Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – ‘The Age of Absurdity’ (Nuclear Blast Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Phil Cooper   
Thursday, 25 January 2018 04:20

Phil Campbell ATBS ArtworkThe 28th pf December 2015 was the day the world lost two legends. With the passing of Lemmy Kilmister so too did Motörhead cease to be a touring band. There was no question that without Lemmy, Motörhead could not continue. Therefore, Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell went their own ways - Dee to Scorpions and Campbell to a newly developing side project. After tinkering with the name and line-up, Wacken festival saw the birth of Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons. A self-titled EP and support slots with likes of Saxon and Guns ‘N Roses soon followed. The music indicated a difference from the sound of Motörhead, but Campbell still held true to his hard rock ‘n’ roll style.  Now the debut album is set to be released, what can we expect?


‘Ringleader’ is first up on the album and it is immediately apparent that the band have been developing their sound since their initial EP release. A thick textured wall of sound contains a trademark Phil Campbell riff.  The relentless drums drive everything forward and the vocals of Neil Star cut through the mix with clarity. It’s a catchy, hard rocking start to the album and certainly pulls the listener in from the get go.  With a wah pedal wash, one of the most memorable riffs on the album provides the intro to ‘Freak Show’. Once again, the tight rhythm section of Dane and Tyla Campbell form the back bone allowing freedom of movement for the guitars of sibling Todd and father Phil. It’s a high tempo head down no-nonsense type of track with a catchy groove provided by the guitar riffs.


‘Skin and Bones’ adds a doomier side to the bands sound, a brooding guitar riff powers the melody along and the double kick drum increases the tempo. The guitar solo is well crafted Phil Campbell style, complimenting the feel of the track especially when combined with the phase and panning effects.  Taking the album back up a notch is ‘Gypsy Kiss’, a high-speed punk rocker with a pounding bass line leading the charge. This is a track that is sure to be hit on the live shows, expect to see a mosh pit open up as the relentless pace builds to the final crescendo and the sing along with lyrics are bellowed out.



‘Dark Days’ offers a twist to the by now established sound of the album. A gutsy blues number complete with acoustic slide and harmonica. It holds a solid twelve bar groove that underpins the low-down feel with Star’s ominous lyrics. With a ZZ Top esque guitar solo forming the centre piece, incorporating double stops, slides, pre-bends and all the usual characteristics of Campbell snr’s playing style. ‘Dark Days’ offers an excellent edge to the album. Coming in at just one minute and 50 seconds, ‘Dropping The Needle’ is the shortest offering on the record. Worthy of the Ramones with its short punky punch, it’s easy to see some of the rock and roll influences bleeding through. The drums of Dane take the lead role from the introduction right the way through. With a breakneck pace it’s as if the rest of the band are working to keep up with him. However, it doesn’t come across as a hastily added album filler. Rather a well crafted punk number with shifting dynamics and staccato guitar chords, there’s a fair bit going on in under two minutes.


Album closer ‘Into The Dark’, has an echo of latter day Motörhead track ‘Dust and Glass’. With a reflective sounding guitar riff building a slow burning atmosphere that couples with the remaining instrumentation to form a framework around the vocals. The vocals cut cleanly through the mix as the band builds towards the inevitable crescendo which sees a swirling guitar solo take shape and take charge of the track. Laden with emotive playing, the solo builds to a final point before relinquishing its grip and the full band sound with vocal harmonies lead back to the main framework of the track. It’s a shame there isn’t a final reprise of the guitar solo for the outro as the verse section is played to a fade out. There is some guitar work in the background but it feels like there could have been more to provide a big finish.


It’s not a record entirely without criticism, there is at times elements of repetition with the likes of ‘Step Into The Fire’ and ‘Get On Your Knees’ sounding as if they echo earlier numbers on the album. The listener does get the feeling that this could have been a leaner album, with some of the padding stripped away. With that being said, there is an awful lot to like about ‘The Age Of Absurdity’, it’s sufficiently different from Motörhead so that it doesn’t come across as Phil Campbell running out of ideas and resting on past glories. However, it is still evidently laced with his sound and style that has by now become well established in the hard rock world. It builds on the bands previous releases and allows them to firmly nail down their creative style. With their first EP it felt as if there was still a degree of feet finding and experimentation with ideas to be done. ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ definitely showcases the final cohesive formula. Certainly, with the calibre of songs they can create Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons will prove to be hit both recorded and live.


‘The Age of Absurdity’ is released tomorrow (Friday 26 January). You can get your copy HERE.


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