Dependable as snow in winter, MOTÖRHEAD keeps releasing albums. The band has also stuck to a pretty reliable routine as far as the quality of those albums go, usually putting out one very good disc and then following it up with a mediocre offering. This pattern probably started with 1986's terrific "Orgasmatron" and has been fairly steady ever since. With "Inferno", the band's nineteenth official album (I think — there's been too many live records, repackagings, and other types of collections to count), this tradition breaks slightly, as the disc is a mix of high quality and lesser material.
MOTÖRHEAD is one of the few bands that does very little to alter their sound from album to album, like AC/DC, and there's both comfort and tedium inherent in that. On the one hand, the band has their own unique style, marked, of course, by the inimitable vocal and bass style of frontman and metal icon Lemmy Kilmister. MOTÖRHEAD (the trio is still rounded out by guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, their longest stable lineup) virtually defines meat-and-potatoes hard rock, their sound blending metal, punk, and Fifties rock'n'roll in a consistently heavy, urgent, and lively mix. Lemmy himself, gravelly voice and all, is also capable of writing infectious vocal melodies, and it's these that usually separate good MOTÖRHEAD from lesser MOTÖRHEAD material.
"Inferno" starts off strong with "Terminal Show", a sleek, fast metal monster in the best tradition of many of the band's album openers, and is followed up by the equally strong "Killers" and "In The Name Of Tragedy", the latter featuring a solid rock groove and catchy riffing. The middle of the record begins to sag somewhat, with the songs taking on an overall sameness that is relieved only by later cuts like "Smiling Like A Killer" and closer "Whorehouse Blues", which could best be described as country-folk-blues done MOTÖRHEAD style. It's different, but it works to add some variety to the record.
MOTÖRHEAD is such a legendary band, Lemmy is such a legendary figure, and the band is so tight and well-oiled a machine at this point that the band has made very few all-out bad albums (1992's "March Or Die" is probably one exception). But they've also settled into a pocket that allows them to continue creating good MOTÖRHEAD music without hitting any exceptional peaks. "Inferno" is neither especially great, and certainly not bad. It's simply MOTÖRHEAD, which for them and their fans may just be enough.