Album Review: Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – “The Age Of Absurdity”
Phil Campbell is, of course, probably best known to Pure Rawk readers as Motorhead’s longest-serving guitarist, joining the band in the mid-’80s and staying with them right up until the bitter end. And during that spell it has to be said he played on some pretty damn good albums as well. However, with Motorhead understandably disbanding following Lemmy’s passing, Phil has now turned his attention to a new project put together with his three sons Todd (rhythm guitar), Tyla (bass) and Dane (drums), plus singer Neil Starr. And it’s safe to say hopes were high for this one when it landed in the old review inbox.
Unfortunately though, I’m gonna come right out and say it, The Age Of Absurdity is a disappointment. Given what a trailblazing and influential band Motorhead were, it’s a bit disheartening that the first few songs in Campbell’s new band have gone for a much more straightforward radio-friendly unit shifter sound, right down to a vocalist in Starr who sounds like a gruffer version of Myles Kennedy, or maybe a deeper-voiced Chris Jericho from Fozzy.
Sometimes it works – the Therapy? style cut and thrust of Dropping The Needle packs an undeniable punch while the bluesy Dark Days, the angry High Rule and the slow-building closer Into The Dark show that the group can vary up the pace a bit. The trouble is that sometimes it sinks into being ultra-generic and forgettable angst-rock by numbers. And it doesn’t help that there are some absolute howlers on here lyrically, real sub-Blink 182 “no mum I won’t tidy up my room!” stuff. Just listen to Skin And Bones, Step Into The Fire, Get On Your Knees or Welcome To Hell and prepare to cringe. A lot.
I get the impression that this is a band that’s maybe still finding its feet a bit, and the shadow of Lemmy is always going to be a very big one to escape from. However, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons are still quite a way from finding the necessary consistency to lift them up into must-listen territory on this evidence.
The Age Of Absurdity isn't completely without merit and there's a few decent tunes on here, but it's so completely lacking an edge that the bugger might as well be spherical. I dunno if this band are still taking the stabilisers off in terms of songwriting, but it's disappointing how predictable and safe a lot of this album is. Hopefully next time they'll have got the awkward growing pains out of the way and be ready to properly kick loose.