November 1, 2007

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Motörhead, Better Motörhead Than Dead: Live at Hammersmith
SPV Records, Oct. 9
High On Fire, Death is This Communion
Relapse Records, Sept. 18
Battle of the cancer-throats here, two bands — one a legend, another well on its way to becoming one — whose raw power sends nu-metal nancy-boys scampering for mumma. Motörhead’s live two-disc set celebrates the band’s 30th anniversary, with Lemmy giving a shout-out to the Hells Angels — his bread-and-butter demographic — early on. The sound is monolithic, a very clean but thunderous presentation taped before a half-live British audience, who barely utter a peep all the way through to the longest-feedback-note-ever that ends album-outro “Overkill.” 20-year Motörhead vet Phil Campbell’s lead guitar work is ambitious toward its blues-metal ends.

High on Fire’s success is owed to being the only half-Sabbath and half-Motörhead choice in a pre-fab emo world — singer/guitarist Matt Pike is Lemmy and Tony Iommi in the same body. Ear-bleed legend Steve Albini helped put them on the map by producing 2005’s Blessed Black Wings, and Nirvana/Soundgarden producer Jack Endino basically left the mixing board knobs set to Master of Reality for the new album. The riffing is next-level and more complex, a few el-weirdo instruments injected for the sake of War On Terror polemics. Motörhead: A- High On Fire: A- Eric W. Saeger