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How Motörhead influenced extreme metal

Motörhead’s influence reached far and wide, not least into the heart of the extreme metal scene

Fenriz, Tom G Fischer, Abbath, Satyr and more pay tribute to a founding father.

“I got the message that Lemmy died and that whole day my life and memories of Motörhead slowly passed me by, like they say happens with your own life when you die. Of course, no one was shocked he died, but I think a lot of people were sadder than they expected to be.” – Fenriz, Darkthrone

“Motörhead are the godfathers of extreme metal, that is the simple truth. I really don’t know what else to say. I wish I could be as funny, sarcastic and intellectual a person with the same songwriting skills as Lemmy. Nobody is, there was only one.” – Mika Luttinen, Impaled Nazarene

“I still haven’t realised that Lemmy’s gone, you know? I expected him to last for at least another 10 years. He was that guy, unique.” – Abbath, Norwegian black metal veteran and member of Motörhead covers band Bömbers.


It is already clear from the abundance of tributes made since his passing that the death of Lemmy Kilmister has affected those in the extreme metal world profoundly – more profoundly in fact than most would have expected. Yet it should really come as no surprise to see widespread sadness being exhibited by artists from the worlds of crust, thrash, death and black metal – it was, after all, Lemmy and Motörhead that helped create those very genres.

A big claim? Well yes, it is. But it’s also true. Look back at the state of rock and heavy metal prior to the emergence of Motörhead in the late 70s and it becomes clear just how much the band really changed things. It wasn’t a lone effort of course; during the 70s Motörhead took heavy blues rock toward its darker, heavier conclusion as part of a sacred triumvirate completed by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. But while Sabbath and Priest brought darkness and finesse to the metal formula, it was Motörhead who first inserted the genuine sense of aggression, attitude and rawness that would define extreme music in the decades that followed. The result was a sound that appealed as much to the punks as it did metal fans.

“I first discovered Motörhead on an old cassette in 1977,” recalls Tezz of crust/ hardcore punk pioneers Discharge. “I was blown away; I kept playing it over and over. They were, and still are, a massive influence on me. As the drummer in Discharge I was influenced by several drummers, but definitely Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor inspired me the most with his speed and technique. The band turned the ‘punk scene’ upside down and cleared the way for bands like us.”

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