I’ve been drowning my sorrows in metal. For the last three weeks, I’ve been listening to the entire back catalog of Motorhead’s studio albums, all 22 of them, from their eponymous debut in 1977 to their last, Bad Magic, released a year before band founder – and heavy music legend – Lemmy Kilmister died. That was one year ago today, and his passing made for a crappy end to 2015 and ominous start to 2016. In Lemmy’s honor, and to distract myself from the rough beast slouching towards Washington (to paraphrase Yeats), I have been wallowing in Motorhead’s beautiful noise.
I worried this marathon would be grueling, filled with albums of marginal material – they made records for 40 years, for crying out loud – but it’s been a pleasure. The early records were seminal, influencing every metal band since, but my personal favorites are the albums from the middle years with Wurzel as the second guitar player: Orgasmatron, Rock ’n’ Roll, 1916, March or Die, Bastards, and Sacrifice. I hadn’t heard the subsequent albums until I started this listening session, but they are all solid: no frills, no surprises, just Motorhead. It’s been a nice way to round out my own personal Year of Metal.
I set out to see at least one metal show per month in 2016, and I almost made it, too. I missed July –although Kristin Key’s comedy set was a nice alternative – and November and December didn’t work out for me, but I still managed to bang my head and mosh at more metal shows in one year than I ever had before: twelve gigs in twelve months. I wrote about many of the performances (I’ve embedded links to those posts, if you’re inclined to reflect with me), including:
- Venom Inc., where my friend Sean finally got to see his favorite band and we met drummer Abaddon. Best night ever.
- Black Sabbath, where I bid farewell to the band that invented heavy metal along with my young friend Zach, for whom it was his first metal show.
- Several performances of local heroes Evil Awakening and Twisted Heroes, who proved to me that exciting new heavy music is in no danger of going extinct thanks to these talented young musicians.
- Two performances of Iron Kingdom, my current favorite “old school” band of youthful Canadians, who I hope will give me sanctuary should the political climate grow too desperate here in America.
- Viking warriors Amon Amarth, who laid the audiences to waste in two performances.
- Thrash legends Megadeth, Suicidal Tendencies, and Metal Church, who partied like it’s 1988 (that was a thinly veiled reference to Prince, RIP, who is, believe it or not, another of my musical heroes).
As a lifelong metal head, it’s a joy to reflect on a year filled with so much sound and fury. I feel fortunate to have seen so many shows, and, more importantly, to have spent time with fellow headbangers moshing it up and shouting along with every word and riff. And 2017 promises to be another great metal year. DevilDriver, Death Angel, Overkill, Cavalera Conspiracy, Testament, Kreator, Obituary, and more are going to be assaulting the area this Spring. So many bands, so little time, and such a small budget allotment for concert tickets. Decisions, decisions. It’s a nice problem to have, and, if you could see me, you’d see a big smile on my face.
Now, instead of drowning sorrows, I’m going to raise a glass – filled with Lemmy’s favorite cocktail: Jack Daniel’s and Coke – and raise a toast to the metal year that was, to the year that is ahead of us, and to the memory of Lemmy, may he rest in peace with Ziggy Stardust, Snape, Princess Leia, and all the others we lost. You gotta have faith (yup, I even like George Michael).
May you all have a wonderful New Year pursuing your passions and enjoying your friends and family. Cheers!