For Phil Campbell, the many years spent as guitarist for Motörhead are both a blessing and a curse at this point. On one hand, the status of being in one of the greatest metal bands of all time is hard to one-up and carries buckets of clout within the genre. It’s also a virtually unassailable benchmark that any future output will, unfortunately, have to be judged against. And thus, here’s Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons, the new project featuring Campbell alongside his three sons Todd, Tyla and Dane, and vocalist Neil Starr.
As such, judging ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ ultimately feels like a pointless exercise. Not only because of the immediate disadvantage of coming after Campbell’s previous, seminal work, but because this is as clear of a vanity project as it gets. Thus offering any sort of criticism isn’t going to change anything. But even so, this is pretty thin all the same, the sort of boring, half-hearted hard rock album that you won’t struggle to find plenty of doing the rounds on the pub circuit. The only difference is that this one has a recognisable name attached, and it would go absolutely nowhere if that wasn’t the case.
It’s difficult to really know what else to say about this, mainly because almost every positive and negative can be attributed to other bands with the exact same frequency. The playing is passable, Starr has some power as a vocalist, and tracks like ‘Gypsy Kiss’ and ‘Dropping The Needle’ are the customary moments of increased pace and feigned excitement. Otherwise, this is as bog-standard as hard rock gets; variation takes the form of slight changes of pace or, in the case of ‘Into The Dark’, a slight southern rock twang. While everything else is the paint-by-numbers UK radio rock that has its audience but has never done all that well. Given how derivative a track like ‘Skin And Bones’ is, it’s easy to see why.
At the end of that day, this isn’t an album worth caring about. It doesn’t inspire any flashes of real emotion, and even at its best, it’s passably reliable more than anything else. Again, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons is a band reliant on name recognition and nothing else; take that away, and would anyone really care?
‘The Age Of Absurdity’ by Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall(@nuttall_luke)