Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons - The Age of Absurdity (2018)

With Lemmy laying beneath the ground in peace and Motörhead being disbanded, it feels really strange to see both Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee in any other musical project. It was definitely expected that they would take their talents elsewhere, but still, imagining them playing something different than "Ace of Spades" or "Overkill" is weird. Well, Mikkey has certainly not been lazy, quickly subbing in with Thin Lizzy on a tour and eventually becoming a permanent member of Scorpions. Phil has taken some more time to reflect his future career, but it is now finally time for him to unveil what he has been working on the last year or so.

Together with The Bastard Sons, Phil Campbell strikes us with "The Age of Absurdity", an album that more or less has nothing to do with Motörhead at all besides some very small bits here and there. This group sounds more like a hybrid of Mötley Crüe, Shinedown, The Offspring, and maybe some Aerosmith as well, it is a mix that do go together well enough, but it is not all that original. It actually comes out as a very standard modern rock band that any rock station would welcome with open arms, playing their singles frequently. I honestly did not expect much more beside of that, so I am not that disappointed, but something heavier would have been more welcome for sure.

Besides, the music is quite nice to listen to. It is easily likeable rock that may not have much substance to it, but it is some groovy shit, so you can definitely dig it. This band is sort of like Slash's solo project, with the backing band laying the foundation and our main guitarist adding that special touch. While I do think Phil does not take as much space as Slash does (honestly, can anybody do that?), he still has some shining moments in this album. He adds a punch to the music that is definitely much needed if any of the songs are going to stick with you. Songs like "High Rule" and "Welcome To Hell" are much more engaging thanks to Phil's nifty work.

How about the rest of the bastards? Well, I cannot say all too much unfortunately, because with such basic music as this, it is very hard to really stand out from the pack, but I do love however that Phil keeps his traditions within the family. 3/4 of the remaining members are all sons of Phil (Dane on drums, Tyla on guitar, and Todd on bass), with the only one being "adopted" is vocalist Neil Starr, making this band a real family business. It is great to see these guys get along for the sake of rock and roll.

As said though, it gets kind of predictable in the end with all of this decent rock songs. Some speedy ones, some heavy ones, some ballads, and even some blues and country to complete the picture, which certainly gives some nice variety to the album, but most of the tracks are just not strong enough to accentuate these differences, not giving this album the dynamic edge it could have needed. This is an album where it is just better to pick out the better tracks, and leave the rest in the dust, creating a nice little EP of material.

So "The Age of Absurdity" is not the most revolutionary thing out there, but it is a good little album of comfort rock. You can just put it on anytime, and get in a fairly good mood in a quick beat. There might be enough small crumbles of greatness in here that could lead to something spectacular in the future, and I just have to hope that they do take the same path as Slash's solo project, with a debut record that is uneven, but with a clearer understanding on what they want to do in future installments. Motörhead fans should absolutely take a listen, but do not expect Phil to carry Lemmy's torch with his new band. This could have definitely used some more absurd elements, but it works for what it is.

Songs worthy of recognition: Welcome To Hell, Gypsy Kiss, Step Into The Fire

Rating: 6/10 Ringleaders

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