Album Review – Motorhead – Orgasmatron

May 2, 2016 — Leave a comment

Motorhead – Orgasmatron (1986)

“Look, if I see things as being f*cked, I’m gonna tell you they’re f*cked. I can’t sit there any say, ‘Oh, everything’s nice because I’ve got a new Porsche…[not that I do].” – Lemmy

1986 was such a landmark year for metal already that a new Motorhead album must have seemed like extra icing on an already dense, heavy cake. During a time when the metal genre seemed inexorably careening into ever-crazier realms of extremity, Orgasmatron was an important reminder that metal’s roots were unforgotten. At the time, it was the first studio effort from Lemmy and friends in three years–which is a long time for them!

Assuming they spent all that time just drinking and writing, the effort really shows: the songs on Orgasmatron are some of the band’s finest…and angriest.

1. Deaf Forever
2. Nothing Up My Sleeve
3. Ain’t No Crime
4. Claw
5. Mean Machine
6. Built For Speed
7. Ridin With the Driver
8. Doctor Rock
9. Orgasmatron

Unlike the gentlemen of Motorhead themselves, I’m not as critical of Orgasmatron’s production, which was mixed by an engineer from the then-untested, 80s hip-hop world. It can sound a bit thin and tinny at times, but it’s nothing to really complain about. Lemmy’s vocals are a bloodthirsty roar throughout, the best and clearest I’ve heard from those whiskey-soaked pipes. Especially on “Claw,” where he tries his hand at a climbing, banshee yell. “Deaf Forever” is a rousing call to attention, a fist-raising rally of shouts calling the fans to order. “Nothing Up My Sleeve” is noteworthy to me for its well-phrased, Old West style guitar solo.

Despite the hot start, I think this is one of those albums where the second half is even better than the first, and a key factor is the title track, a dark anti-religion-and-politics scree. “Orgasmatron” finds Lemmy diving below the audio surface of his usual yell. The song is deceptively simple, but it is Motorhead’s sheer force of will that makes it a classic. It is an unstoppable march. Sepultura covered the song as well, and Max Cavalera claims he got completely hammered just so he could experience what it was like to rip through a Motorhead cover while blackout drunk. I’m surprised he made it through the intense lyrics:

“Your bones will build my palaces
Your eyes will stud my crown.”

Not all the songs are angry, though. The live classic “Doctor Rock” has been the Motorhead show opener for many years, and it’s a rollicking fun time. I wonder how many headbangers have complimented a woman by telling her she has “a body like a Marshall stack.” If you do attempt this and she responds well…keep her.

Another reason the second half of Orgasmatron rips even more than the first is “Mean Machine,” one of the band’s fastest all-time tracks. The band is simply all over this song in tight form, and then you have two of Lemmy’s most autobiographical songs to follow. They describe his life to a T, “not giving a good god damn” (in “Built For Speed”) and “spitting in the devil’s eye” (in “Ridin With the Driver”). “Don’t you listen to a single word against rock n’ roll” is a lyric that rings with ultimate truth in its delivery.

Sadly the world is no less of a shitshow today than it was in Lemmy’s 1986. But like the hell-train on Orgasmatron’s cover, the force of Motorhead’s music remains an unstoppable ride with a big grin and a big Jack and Coke into the future…one that is better, or worse.

Lemmy Kilmister (RIP)
Phil “Wizzo” Campbell
Wurzel (RIP)
Pete Gill

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