`Iron Fist' was and is all things considered a bit of a let down. The previous 3 Motörhead records were thoroughly excellent, particularly `Overkill' and `Ace of Spades' which set a new standard for loud, fast and Philthy rock `n' roll. Lemmy admits that the band got way too complacent after the success of `No Sleep Till Hammersmith' which to this day remains the bands only number 1 album, well in the UK at least. As such `Iron Fist' is a weaker album, directionless and features a couple of unfinished songs. But as its Motörhead its still quite good.
`Fast' Eddie Clarke handles production is what is his last Motörhead album. This has been a point of contention for many fans, people absolutely despise this production. However, a slightly thinner sound is not `Iron Fist's real problem and in actual fact this "raw as a badgers arse" sound is very much suited to Motörhead. Although many the line up of Eddie, Phil and Lemmy is widely recognised as the classic Motörhead line up from the sheer lack of development (yes, Motörhead do actually change and develop just their too good at it, so you don't really realise) and sonic stagnation on display here I feel it was a necessary step for Eddie to leave.
`Iron Fist' does despite my criticism feature some awe inspiring songs and these make more than essential listening for Motörhead fans. The title track occupies a place in the bands encores to this day, simply because it's a classic, too fast, dangerous and brimming with a rock `n' roll attitude sadly lacking in a lot of today's...um rock `n' roll. The lyrics happen to be some of Lemmy's finest too with a menace and darkness he rarely displays, `Sacrifice' is another example of this. `Go to Hell' in my mind is a Motörhead classic, some very memorable riffs from Eddie and brilliant good-love-gone-bad type lyrics...because remember children, women are bad and should not be trusted. `Loser' is one of the more interesting songs on `Iron Fist', the sliding riffs aren't typically Motörhead by numbers and the song catchy on the whole. `(Don't Let 'Em) Grind You Down' is a more mid paced number at which the band excel (Motörhead never really get any recognition for doing a lot of mid paced numbers...which probably felt like funeral dirges to a band who did so much speed, the drug not the tempo).
Sadly the much of `Iron Fist' is forgettable and often comes across as with a feeling of déjà vu...as the band had done it before and better. `Heart of Stone' is perhaps the worst example of this, Lemmy says `Iron Fist' features two unfinished songs and I'm guessing this is one of them as I'd like to believe Lem wouldn't submit such a mediocre exercise in speed as a finished product. `(Don't Need) Religion' isn't bad per se its just a blatant rip off of Ted Nugent's `Cat Scratch Fever' and no where near as good, Motörhead seem to have a thing for Special Ted as they covered the aforementioned track (badly might I add) on `March or Die'. There are some other good songs on `Iron Fist' namely `Speedfreak' but much of it descends into a bland Motörheady mush and that's not something I'd like to say about one of my favourite bands.
Somewhat surprising on such a comparatively weak album (Motörhead don't do real stinkers...well maybe `Snake Bite Love') is that the performances are great and energetic. `Fast, but probably the slowest guitarist in Motörhead' Eddie Clarke is a magical player, he's so simple yet effective, Eddie generally only uses simple chords and as such when he puts an extra 5th in a power chord he sounds immense...even more so than usual. Eddie's playing shows economic guitar playing at its best; no balls but all balls. Philthy Animal pre `Rock `n' Roll' as always is a great drummer the logical successor to the unrestrained energy of the late great Keith Moon. Lemmy is well just Lemmy, no surprises...everything you want.
`Iron Fist' is a weaker album from the band and is in the unenviable position of being sandwiched in between many superior albums, its sad that Eddie's swansong in Motörhead is a tad patchy, ending the era with a whimper.