Motörhead – Iron Fist (40th Anniversary Edition)

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Overall Score: 8/10
Musicianship: 8/10
Production: 8/10
Song Writing: 8/10
Pros: Classic Motorhead at its best with much improved production and absolutely packed with previously unreleased material.
Cons: The new remaster exposes some of the album's less polished moments, recording quality of some of the bonus tracks may also be off-putting for the more casual fan. 

MOTORHEAD‘s fifth studio album, Iron Fist is a record that really should need no introduction. Originally released back in 1982 when the speed metal trio were at the height of their chart topping power. Iron Fist was the last album to feature the classic three amigos line-up of Lemmy Kilmister, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. Following two landmark releases in the form of Ace Of Spades (1981) and the now legendary live album, No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (1981). Iron Fist was unfortunately met with a mixed reception though.

Many criticised the production of the album and even Lemmy himself has lamented some of the decisions that were made during the recording process. Openly admitting that several of the tracks were essentially unfinished and that he regretted letting go of original producer Vic Maile. Four decades later however, Iron Fist has finally found its rightful place in the MOTORHEAD mythos alongside some of the band’s biggest albums.

Packed with classic tracks that went on to become staples of the band’s setlists over coming years. It’s thankfully just received the full reissue treatment, right on time for its 40th anniversary! Remastered, rearmed and ready to bang heads around the world for another four decades. This new incarnation of Iron Fist features a whole raft of previously unreleased recordings to boot. Making it a treasure trove for the hardcore fans out there that just can’t get enough MOTORHEAD

Starting off with that ever familiar galloping distorted bassline, mosh pit anthem Iron Fist still hits just as hard as it did back in 1982. Sounding raw, energetic and just a little less sterile than the original. The new mix lifts and rounds out Phil Taylor‘s drum sound nicely too, simultaneously putting a little more power behind the trio and fixing one of the original recordings biggest issues. 

As you listen to Iron Fist, it becomes clear what a loss the departure of Eddie Clarke was to the then young three piece. While he may have been lambasted over the years for the production of Iron Fist, his guitar work on the album itself is absolutely sizzling. With just a light touch up of the original master tapes, every tasty lick and full throttle riff finally stands out. With the outro solo of Loser in particular providing a face melting showcase of the axeman’s six string prowess.

Already dominating the mix through sheer presence alone, legendary frontman Lemmy Kilmister‘s growling Rickenbacker and trademark Marlboro and whiskey infused vocals sound a little fuller too. Especially on the aforementioned single, I’m The Doctor. The upbeat chorus of which lands with even more punch than usual.

Aside from the main event, there’s a whole catalogue of extra tracks to enjoy with this new fortieth anniversary edition too. The original demo tracks from Vic Maile‘s Jackson’s studio probably provide the biggest highlight for die hard fans. Finally opening a window into the earliest and most talked about era of the album’s creation. Giving a glimpse of what might have been had Clarke not taken the reins in the studio. 

That’s not all however, as Iron Fist also comes packaged with a never before released full length live show! Recorded at the Glasgow Apollo in March 1982 and broadcast live on Radio Clyde. This recently unearthed gem may be a little rough around the edges but it captures MOTORHEAD at full tilt. Unfiltered and unrestrained by the studio click track, you can almost feel the sweat dripping down off the venue’s roof as the band do what they do best.

Though it may have been much maligned upon its initial release. Listening to Iron Fist in its newly evolved form, you can’t help but feel that it was simply a victim of MOTORHEAD‘s previous successes. Following the mammoth Ace Of Spades and a live album that debuted at number one in the charts, it had some big studded cowboy boots to fill. Heard outside of that context however, Iron Fist is still very much a prime cut of MOTORHEAD.

Still louder than everything else, even forty years later. Iron Fist is an unapologetic and unyielding testament to a band that took no prisoners. Now having finally been given the new lease on life that it always deserved, thanks to this tasteful remaster. This is a release that’s sure to delight hardcore speedfreaks everywhere!

Iron Fist is available now via BMG.

For more information on MOTORHEAD, visit their official website.

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