Getting Into: Motörhead: Part 2


Written by: omne metallum
Published: 28.12.2020


Six years and six albums (sit down Radu) as a power trio had seen Motörhead hit highs no one had dared think possible when the band exploded onto the scene in a deafening din of high octane rock 'n' roll. All the infamous tales of decadence and debauchery that had gone hand in hand with the band's stellar output had ensured that the band in its classic iteration could not last, though for that matter, neither could its next line-up.

Following the departure of Robertson and Taylor after the release of Another Perfect Day, Lemmy was left as the sole remaining member of Motörhead; deciding to do what he did best and forge his own path ahead regardless of what naysayers may have said, Lemmy decided to replace Robertson with not one but two guitarists, in the form of ex-Persian Risk NWOBHM veteran Phil Campbell and ex-Warfare six-stringer Würzel, alongside a somewhat revolving cast behind the drums that would eventually settle on the legendary Mikkey Dee.







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1986 - Orgasmatron



All told, Orgasmatron is a divisive album in the band's career; some fans rank it amongst the band's best work, as a welcome return to the band's classic sound that went on a brief hiatus during the Robertson years, while others see the album an overhyped but still appreciated revival of their earlier approach. Orgasmatron sees the introduction of two long-term members in the shape of guitarists Phil Campbell and Würzel, who pad out the sound in a way the band hadn't previously explored, alongside a short-term (only lasting this album) appointment behind the skins in ex-Saxon drummer Pete Gil. The transition is about as seamless as you can get, with each member holding up the more traditional Motörhead sound while also bringing their own personality to the table.

Looming large over the album is the production of Bill Laswell, who is renowned for giving the drums a large, low and explosive sound; it will be of no surprise that Orgasmatron is no different. Gil's drumming sounds larger than life, but ill-fitting coming off of the run of albums with Taylor, with the fast tracks like "Ridin' With The Driver" feeling somehow wrong, or at the very least clipped. On the slower tracks like "Deaf Forever" and the title track, the drum sound fits like an iron fist in a velvet glove, the booming bursts of power adding groove and building atmosphere at the same time. It is fitting then that these two tracks alongside "Built For Speed" make for the album's highlights.

The biggest change the new-look two-guitar line-up has on the band's sound is that it allows for Campbell and Würzel to interplay with each other ("Nothing Up My Sleeve") and serve as their own rhythm section, given that Lemmy has never played as a true rhythm section. Lemmy continues to provide his trademark wall of sound and little changes in terms of his style; the one difference you will notice is during the solos, with the rhythm guitarist able to fill in the void between the solo and the interplay between Lemmy and the drummer. While the band were still firing, they weren't flying on all cylinders just yet; Orgasmatron is worth a spin now and then, but sits in the middle of the band's discography all things considered.



1987 - Rock N' Roll



For as every bit as divisive as the two preceding albums had been, Rock N' Roll was as unifying, though for the wrong reasons. Oft ranking amongst the band's worst work, Rock N' Roll was the lowest point the band had reached up until this point and dragged the band's popularity down with it. The line-up had again changed, with Pete Gil having vacated the drum stool in short order; 'Philthy' would return after a one-album break.

Perhaps the best known track off of the album is "Eat The Rich", written for the comedy movie of the same name, a song that is passable but features some of the worst lyrics I've heard from Lemmy, which will make you cringe. Given the film has been largely forgotten, this caveat explaining the origin of the lyrics is also overlooked, which only compounds the issue. The other memorable moment to come out this album is the guest 'sermon' from Michael Palin, a spoken word section that does make you sit up and take notice.

While I doubt many detractors of the band who say 'every album sounds the same' will have delved far enough into the band's discography to have heard this cut, it is a blessing, given that it would add credence to that argument. Rock N' Roll's problem is that much of its material is just weaker rehashes of ideas the band has produced better before, with "Stone Deaf In The USA" sounding like an alternate version of "No Class" (which is funny, considering that was a rip-off of ZZ Top) and "The Wolf" being a merger of "Overkill" and "Mean Machine". The album does however contain two very overlooked tracks in "Dogs" and "Boogey Man", which are highly enjoyable and make the second half of the album a far more memorable and entertaining run through than the first half.

An album I rarely find myself putting on, it is ironic that perhaps the most impressionable tracks to come out of these sessions didn't actually appear on the album proper, instead being relegated to B-sides. You can easily find them now on the deluxe versions of the album, but I would advise checking out "Cradle To The Grave" and "Just 'Cos You Got The Power", which would have elevated the album had they been included.



1991 - 1916



The dawning of a new decade saw what would ultimately be a mixed bag for the band, releasing their strongest album in the best part of a decade and raising the band's profile to the extent that they got their first Grammy nomination. With the band later bemoaning label issues and shenanigans for the album not living up to expectations commercially, this argument is lended credence due to the sheer quality that runs through the eleven tracks. From the off, "The One To Sing The Blues" is an assured slab of metal that puts the last four albums in its shade, running the gamut of flavours the band had made their own over the years; it shows that the band were not reliant on the unique chemistry of the 'classic' line-up for quality.

When you hear this album, you will be surprised how an album of such overt quality is somewhat of a hidden gem; while "Going To Brazil" became a live staple up until the end, the rest of the album contains some of the band's better work, like "I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)" or "Shut You Down". The other song next to "Going To Brazil" that would be best remembered is Lemmy's ode to New York punkers The Ramones of the same name, which marries the Motörheadmetallic attack with a punk ethos a la the band in question, which will remind you Motörhead. The album does have its moments where the underlying idea doesn't quite work out the way they planned. "Nightmare/The Dreamtime" and "Love Me Forever" try to be slow-burning, atmospheric yet hard-hitting tracks, which the band have pulled off since; while the former doesn't work at all, the latter does have some great guitar work by Campbell and Würzel, which rank amongst some of their best guitar solos on a Motörhead track.

Perhaps one of the more poignant tracks in the band's history is the title track "1916", a solemn and orchestral number recounting the futility of World War I that was a total tonal shift for fans up to this point. If you come across someone who says the band rewrote the same song again and again, put this on and watch them eat their words. Alas, 1916 would serve as the final full studio outing for 'Philthy', who would leave the band during the recording of the follow-up album; with his commitment to the band allegedly being called into question many times over the years, he managed to go out on a high note at the very least.



1992 - March Ör Die



Widely regarded as the band's worst album (and for good reason), March Ör Die is the least fondly remembered record put out by the band. It sees the band put in one of their more uninspired performances alongside some of the most pedestrian material they would release. For every bit as good as the preceding album had been, March Ör Die was as bad. If you want an easy comparison then listen to both title tracks and hear for yourself; while the former album tried something new and was a new twist on the formula, "March Ör Die" is derivative and disinteresting. Added to this is that the album features two cover tracks (though one was a song written by Lemmy in the form of "Hellraiser"), which suggests a struggle to muster up enough material. Given the band was dealing with the second and final departure of 'Philthy' around this time (his place taken by session musician Tommy Aldridge for the majority of this album), it is understandable why morale and performances were workmanlike rather than enthused. While Aldridge plays the parts well, he lacks the unhinged clinging onto the edge urgency that drives many of the band's classic tunes.

The rest of the band, however, appear to clock in and do the minimum required; few moments of musical brilliance are on show throughout the album, with the band seemingly willing to rest on their laurels and their latent talents. Tracks like "Stand" and "Cat Scratch Fever" sound as if the band only turned up out of obligation and feel devoid of enthusiasm. The only two tracks that I find myself returning to are "Bad Religion" and "Hellraiser"; both find that perfect balance between threatening atmosphere and a hammering heavy groove that will sweep you off your feet by taking you out at the knees. It is telling that "Hellraiser" is the debut appearance by Mikkey Dee and sees the quality of the drum performance elevated, in turn leading to the band upping their own game to match.

While I wouldn't say avoid it outright, it is probably the album you least need to hear and the one you will get the least out of. I usually only spin it to hear the aforementioned two good tracks and even less occasionally I'll let the record play out a few other tracks before I move on to something else.



1993 - Bastards



You didn't think the band were written off did you?

If Bastards had followed 1916, I imagine the 90's would have turned out very differently for the band. Released in 1993 as the new regimes in rock and metal were in full swing, Motörhead decided to evolve rather than die by releasing their heaviest and most unchained album ever. The band found a launchpad instead of a spring in their step and massively overcompensated for the lack of enthusiasm in their prior record by giving Bastards 200%.

The opening six-track run will leave your head spinning between the speed and heaviness brought by the group; between Dee's explosive drumming on tracks like "Burner" and the rhythmic swagger that is "I Am The Sword", you have the peak performances of any of the iterations of the four-piece line-ups. The second half of the album is not as immediately in your face but it is just as enjoyable, with tracks like the rock 'n' roll classic "Bad Woman" (with boogie woogie piano to boot) and "I'm Your Man" and its understated yet pounding stomp keeping you hooked.

The selection of Benson as producer was an astute choice, as he fully understood what sound the band needed to enhance what had to be the heaviest set of material the band had brought to the table. With Campbell and Wurzel given a razor-sharp guitar tone that adds a hell of a lot of power to tracks like "Death Or Glory", but is equally adept at the more traditional rockers like "Devils" and my personal favourite track by the band, "Born To Raise Hell". Lemmy is largely left to be himself, which is best; he needs little in the way of production other than being audible in the mix.

Even though this is the band's heaviest release, the sombre and melancholic "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me" is the best ballad the band would produce (a run that had started two albums ago on 1916) and one that shows that the band don't need to be flying at the speed of sound to get your attention. Though it does serve as the only real issue with the record, given its position in the running order, it is a quick and sharp comedown from the party anthem "Born To Raise Hell" before it before being followed up the upbeat rocker "Bad Woman". Highly recommended.



1995 - Sacrifice



Following on in a familiar vein to Bastards before it, Sacrifice carries on the direction of turning the metal elements to eleven and producing another heavy as hell record that will assault your senses. Sacrifice was the last great album by the band for the better part of a decade and yet it remains somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of the band's back catalogue. Serving as the swansong for Motörhead with four members, as Würzel would leave the band shortly after, it is debatable how much he contributed to the album, but luckily the album does not suffer from his lack of input, being a barnburner of a record and one of the bright spots in the mid-nineties for a rock band that formed in the seventies.

The overarching focus on groove throughout the album gives many of the album's tracks one hell of a hook to sit alongside their latent power, with tracks like "Over Your Shoulder" and "All Gone To Hell" having such compelling riffs they could make the dead dance. While Bastards had the power, Sacrifice has the swing that makes you get up and dance as your chest is rattled like a pneumatic drill was placed on top of it. The aforementioned two tracks, alongside the title track and "In Another Time", make up some of the most overlooked gems in the band's whole career and are criminally underrepresented on best of compilations put out over the years. If you are in search of some more unknown tracks and are hard pressed where to start digging, then might I direct you to Sacrifice; it's like striking oil and suddenly being overwhelmed by how deep and rich the well you have struck is.

The only real shortcoming with the album is the double-edged nature of the production. It ramps up the power and accentuates the rhythmic nature of the music, while lending it an atmosphere of unsettling foreboding; however, it has a strange ceiling to it that at times overdoes the effects and reverb to the album's detriment. Case in point are tracks like "War For War", featuring guitars with a strange sound that doesn't make them sound chunky and powerful, but gives them this strange sheen that doesn't allow them to hit as hard as they could.


=========================
It was with the departure of Würzel that Motörhead would return to being a trio once more and settle into what would be their most stable line-up, lasting until the passing of Lemmy twenty-five years later. Closing the door on the band as a four-piece, the band may not have experienced the highs of their earlier years, but they more importantly endured some of the lowest points of their careers before their transition into living legends a few years down the line.



 



Written on 28.12.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments

Comments: 18   Visited by: 61 users
28.12.2020 - 13:32
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
*sits down*
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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28.12.2020 - 13:45
Hyamendacil1450
The departure of Robertson due to peer pressure (yes, Lemmy was pressured by both the record company and his fandom to ditch him allegedly because the music on APD was 'too soft') was a boneheaded move songwriting wise. Wurzel and Campbel, while more beneficial for the band's image and reputation, was detrimental on the long run for the band's songwriting. The Eddie/Robertson era produced more than a dozen terrific songs in some 10 years, while the Campbel/Wurzel era barely made around 5 noteworthy tracks.

Orgasmatron - the first album in the band's discography that has no highlight song. Bomber and Iron Fist, despite being rather average albums, still had 1-2 highlights, i.e. they were not worthless. This one is. Aside from a few good moments in The Claw and Mean Machine, the rest of the album is filler or downright awful, such as the title track. Coupled with that, the lousy guitar sound makes the listening experience a chore, which is unacceptable since Lemmy hired 2 guitarists. Hiring 2 guitarists would normally lead to a thicker, more prominent guitar sound, not a crappier one. 2/5

Rock N' Roll - slightly underrated, particularly when you compare it with the undeserved rating of Crapmatron. Unlike Crapmatron, this one has a highlight, namely the title track and 3 more good songs, Blackheart, Stone Deaf in the USA and Boogeyman. The 2 bonus tracks are also solid. Eat the Rich is crap, and it reveals Lemmy's hypocritical left-leaning side... Lemmy ya little closet Marxist, you had more rich friends than your average Joe, not to mention that you had amassed a sizable fortune yourself from the music biz and here we have another caviar-eating-champagne-drinking-virtue-signaling guy showing the middle finger towards those rich people who made him successful and... rich. Ok, exaggerating with the champagne thing, he was more of a whiskey guy. Got confused. 3/5

1916 - overrated, as expected, but it is arguably best album the Wurzel/Campbel tandem came up with during their stunt as dual guitarists in Motorhead. Like Rock N' Roll, this one has a terrific song, namely I'm So Bad, 3 very good ones (Going To Brazil, Make My Day, Shut You Down) and a solid one, The One to Sing the Blues. This album also marked the sign of Lemmy becoming interested in the world of power ballads. A questionable decisions reflected in the very embarrassing Love Me Forever, where Lemmy actually tries to SING! Want to hear a hippo serenading a cat? Check the rendition of this song with Doro. You can't get more embarrassing than that. 3/5

March or Die - I would rate it even lower. Very, very, very abysmal album. Lemmy's lowest career point and his failed sell-out. This album contains the 2 worst songs in Motorhead's career, namely I Ain't No Nice Guy, which is Lemmy trying to do a Guns n Roses, and Hellraiser, which feels as if Lemmy is trying to be Desmond Child. Anyone who rates this album more than 3 should cut their ears because they are useless. 1/5

Bastards - overrated. 3 solid tracks, Bad Woman, We Bring the Shake, Devils and the rest to the trash bin. No idea why this is so liked by Motorhead fans. Yes, it is well produced, has a good guitar sound, but the songwriting? 5 stars for this album means that I can expect similar quality to Ace of Spades or Overkill by Motorhead standards. Even the 3 solid songs would rank below the worst songs on those albums. Can we finally get a sense of proportion for once? 2/5

Sacrifice - Motorhead going Pantera light with a good dosage of boring blues. Since Lemmy's foray into glam failed miserably, why not try to cash in on the groove movement spearheaded by Pantera? This album was made as an excuse to have new material for touring. Except March or Die and to a lesser extent, Orgasmatron, this one has no good song. This album feels like there was no quality control involved in the songwriting process. Whatever Lemmy came up with on tour or in studio, that became album material. This was before the internet killed physical CDs, when even lower quality products, despite low sales, could still be financially viable compared to the post-internet era. 4.5 out 5 for this is simply ridiculous. Again, can we get a sense of proportion? Based on this rating, one should expect quality similar to the band's heyday. Wanna bet that the next 2 albums who are as crap as this one will be rated lower, for whatever monkey-ear reason? 1/5
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28.12.2020 - 13:52
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Why sacrifiece has wrong year
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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28.12.2020 - 14:55
nikarg
Mod
Cannot believe it's been five years already. I appreciate the write-up and thanks for posting this today of all days, but Motörhead have no albums below 3/5 in my opinion.
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29.12.2020 - 08:14
Cynic Metalhead
Nasha Vich Paisa
Written by Hyamendacil1450 on 28.12.2020 at 13:45


Anyone who rates this album more than 3 should cut their ears because they are useless. 1/5


Not only you raised my serious doubt about the quality of your ears - but sabotaged all your opinions about Motorhead records here.

It seems you are clueless about the nitpicks for the sake of deliberating nit-picking albums you might listen to with unsustainable ears.
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29.12.2020 - 08:20
Hyamendacil1450
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 29.12.2020 at 08:14

Written by Hyamendacil1450 on 28.12.2020 at 13:45


Anyone who rates this album more than 3 should cut their ears because they are useless. 1/5


Not only you raised my serious doubt about the quality of your ears - but sabotaged all your opinions about Motorhead records here.

It seems you are clueless about the nitpicks for the sake of deliberating nit-picking albums you might listen to with unsustainable ears.


I know my ears are of high quality. Good that you noticed. Did I touch a sensitive chord? Whether you like it or not, March or Die is Lemmy's worst cesspool of an album. Unlike Sacrifice, which is boring from start to finish, but not awful, this one is awful all the way. Asylum Choir is the only song that would qualify as average. Not only that, this is arguably the first album where the sell-out tendency is apparent. This is the closest Motorhead came to make a glam album.

So yeah, if you rate this album more than 3 stars, don't bother getting an ear check. Cut them off. Bad hearing, musically speaking, is worse than being deaf.
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29.12.2020 - 17:52
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 28.12.2020 at 14:55

Cannot believe it's been five years already. I appreciate the write-up and thanks for posting this today of all days, but Motörhead have no albums below 3/5 in my opinion.

To me those ale decent piece whit upps n downs, like all bands albums after Ace. To live or hate band.

Btw writer said about lyrics. When did Lemmy wrote good lyrics? Those are made to rock n roll not doom.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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29.12.2020 - 18:06
JoHn DoE
Written by Bad English on 29.12.2020 at 17:52

Written by nikarg on 28.12.2020 at 14:55

Cannot believe it's been five years already. I appreciate the write-up and thanks for posting this today of all days, but Motörhead have no albums below 3/5 in my opinion.

To me those ale decent piece whit upps n downs, like all bands albums after Ace. To live or hate band.

Btw writer said about lyrics. When did Lemmy wrote good lyrics? Those are made to rock n roll not doom.


tell me when did Lemmy write bad lyrics?
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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29.12.2020 - 18:43
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Jonny döä
He was not a poet, fact.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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02.01.2021 - 23:52
Nokturhn
Yes!!! Really enjoyed reading this.
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06.01.2021 - 11:12
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Written by Hyamendacil1450 on 28.12.2020 at 13:45

A questionable decisions reflected in the very embarrassing Love Me Forever, where Lemmy actually tries to SING!

You know Lemmy actually sang with Sam Gopal and Hawkwind, right?
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"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
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06.01.2021 - 11:13
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Also, BOOO! at the Rock N' Roll and March Or Die ratings.
----
"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
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06.01.2021 - 12:43
Hyamendacil1450
Written by M C Vice on 06.01.2021 at 11:12

Written by Hyamendacil1450 on 28.12.2020 at 13:45

A questionable decisions reflected in the very embarrassing Love Me Forever, where Lemmy actually tries to SING!

You know Lemmy actually sang with Sam Gopal and Hawkwind, right?


I know, but I mentioned this in the context of Motorhead. Not Hawkwind. The kind of vocals he does in Hawkwind is rather different. But here it just doesn't fit and it sounds forced and Spinal Tap~ish. Especially his duet with Doro is cringe.
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06.01.2021 - 12:56
JoHn DoE
Written by Bad English on 29.12.2020 at 18:43

Jonny döä
He was not a poet, fact.


A poet? If you make an accusation, bring a proof, a logical argument. Unless you give examples of bad lyrics from Lemmy, your "he was not a poet" is just... well, ridiculous, void.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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06.01.2021 - 13:02
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Written by JoHn DoE on 29.12.2020 at 18:06

Written by Bad English on 29.12.2020 at 17:52

Written by nikarg on 28.12.2020 at 14:55

Cannot believe it's been five years already. I appreciate the write-up and thanks for posting this today of all days, but Motörhead have no albums below 3/5 in my opinion.

To me those ale decent piece whit upps n downs, like all bands albums after Ace. To live or hate band.

Btw writer said about lyrics. When did Lemmy wrote good lyrics? Those are made to rock n roll not doom.


tell me when did Lemmy write bad lyrics?

We Bring The Shake, maybe?
----
"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
Loading...
06.01.2021 - 13:06
JoHn DoE
Written by M C Vice on 06.01.2021 at 13:02

Written by JoHn DoE on 29.12.2020 at 18:06

Written by Bad English on 29.12.2020 at 17:52

Written by nikarg on 28.12.2020 at 14:55

Cannot believe it's been five years already. I appreciate the write-up and thanks for posting this today of all days, but Motörhead have no albums below 3/5 in my opinion.

To me those ale decent piece whit upps n downs, like all bands albums after Ace. To live or hate band.

Btw writer said about lyrics. When did Lemmy wrote good lyrics? Those are made to rock n roll not doom.


tell me when did Lemmy write bad lyrics?

We Bring The Shake, maybe?


I just looked at the lyrics of the song you mention, can't say they are bad.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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06.01.2021 - 14:41
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Then read any doom band as poema arcanus, saturnus, draconian anf so on, not rock n roll. Pure art n poetry
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
06.01.2021 - 14:46
JoHn DoE
Written by Bad English on 06.01.2021 at 14:41

Then read any doom band as poema arcanus, saturnus, draconian anf so on, not rock n roll. Pure art n poetry


again, this is not a counterargument.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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