[ALBUM REVIEW] Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – The Age of Absurdity


01. Ringleader
02. Freak Show
03. Skin And Bones
04. Gypsy Kiss
05. Welcome To Hell
06. Dark Days
07. Dropping The Needle
08. Step Into The Fire
09. Get On Your Knees
10. High Rule
11. Into The Dark



Well my friends, it’s not very often that you put on an album and are genuinely stunned and overwhelmed with a feeling of great privilege in listening before the release.  One of my first considerations was the tremendous though that has obviously gone into this debut album, made manifest in a superbly diverse album.  Heavy Rock, rock ‘n’ roll liberally littered with punk overtones, simply sensational and thoroughly satisfying should be a whole new genre. So before we delve deeper into The Age Of Absurdity, let’s consider for a moment that it remains 2017 as I put digits to keyboard and already we have a contender for 2018 album of the year.  Damn…it’s not released until the end of January and the bar has been set so very high in the allotted genre.   Our expectations were high, but Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons shot us into the stratosphere.

So with some beckoning and direction from the Ringleader, let’s explore this magnificent collection.

What a stroke of genius to select this track for early release to the masses.  The preceding EP certainly had many in keen anticipation for The Age Of Absurdity and Ringleader put the bait in the mouth for many a heavy rock/metal aficionado.  But the astute selection merely teased the aural canals in musical allure and generated interest as a teaser is expected do, but rest assured that as punchy and hooky as Ringleader is, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg.   The best is yet to come and yes Phil, the album DOES have more hooks than a fishing village.  *((All yours mate)- *Refer here to hear the audio interview with Phil Campbell and Neil Starr for context)

Freak Show is the perfect second track with its introduction assuring the listener that the heavy guitar, sizzling beat and sensational vocals in Ringleader would be continued as the central album theme.  We may indeed scratching out our existence in The Age Of Absurdity, but at least is inspiring material for such a killer album.  Elements of this track with it brilliant bridges and melodic leaps remind me of Thin Lizzy and their splendid, timeless proficiency in establishing the same masterful sound.  But not a carbon copy by any stretch.  This is PCATBS wild, let loose and absolutely, on fire establishing their sound supremacy.

Skin And Bones takes on a more malevolent feel and if you can stop your head moshing in blissful approval, you certainly have the epitome of musculoskeletal control.  This is an honest heavy rock track, but again overflowing with hooks and raw appeal.  It’s quite demonstrative of how each band member has enjoyed equal collaboration, thereby capturing the very beast from each.  Neil Starr has established the strength and range of his sensational rock voice and fans of States And Empires will be delighted with his delivery.  A little listening to Dopamine and Attack Attack will give you an idea of how sensational Neil’s voice I, but rest assured that he has dug particularly deep for The Age Of Absurdity, both lyrically and vocally.  Sensational.

Tyla Campbell is absolutely killer in providing the rhythmic power to this album and followers of The People The Poet will certainly recognise his influence in the assembly of some guitar tracks, albeit sticking to bass for this collection.  His experience with Straight Lines and TPTP is evident on this collection and he keeps the rhythmic drive on each track.   Dane Campbell powers through this album with a superb blend of drumming excellence and keeping the group confined to the required beat.  There is something special when your very being is truly feeling the music and at the critical moment you want to hear a high hat belted, a bass kick, a snare sizzle or a tom tom tap, Dane delivers exactly what your soul desired.  Again, a brilliant demonstration that all had an equal hand in creating this magnificent work.  Todd has taken a production break for this recording, but doubtless his proficiency has greatly enhanced his creative guitar contributions to The Age Of Absurdity. Again, those familiar with Straight Lines will be blissfully satisfied that all the lads have achieved their finest yet on this sensational work.

Romesh Dodangoda was responsible for production throughout this creation and his masterful input is evident.  This is surely no surprise to anyone.  Who else would Phil Campbell rely on for such an important album as a debut than a master of his craft.  The pair share an extensive history together in music.  Many would be cognisant that Phil returned home to Wales during the recording of the Motorhead album The World Is Yours, due to his father becoming ill.  Romesh recorded all of Phil’s guitar work for the album during daily sessions in between Phil visiting with his dad.  Therefore it seems perfectly natural that the two appreciate one another’s creative style, personal priorities, professional proclivities and it is evident that Romesh understood the direction of the band for this august recording.

And what of our masterful protagonist in Phil himself?  Well as you would expect after 32 years right beside Lemmy, the Motorhead archetype is alive and well, albeit absorbed within the sound that is Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons.  There is no doubt that almost two years to the day since his passing, there’s a Lemmy shaped hole in all our lives.  Motorhead will always be Motorhead and nothing will ever fill the void left by the bands end of days.  I must reflect that I perhaps I hoped for the Motorhead sound in anything that Phil or Mikkey progress on with post Motorhead, and a large part of me wishes for more Warpig wonders.  After watching Mikkey at the kit with The Scorpions, he still carries the legacy of his time with Lem. Perhaps it is wrong and I sincerely hope I cause no angst to anyone, but listening to Phil playing on The Age Of Absurdity, I gleefully hear and shamelessly feel the legacy of Motorhead carried on for another generation.  Please realise that I make no particular comparisons and am cognisant that it could merely be my muddled, post Motorhead rock mind searching for some satisfaction, but I hear and feel their legacy carried on in Phil’s work, all supported by the sensational contributions from the remainder of PCATBS.  They are Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and they play the hell out of their very own rock and roll.   Phil Campbell is humble and hands the credit to the rest of the band for this superb collection but his mastery is perticulary evident.  It may be an unspoken air of respect and homage, but this album bursts with a Todd, Tyla, Dane and Neil performing at their very finest so far, presumably lifted to the challenge by the very presence of the master himself, Phil Campbell.  He may still be a humble Welsh wanker called wizzo to a close few, and I have only been in the same room as Phil a couple of times, but you can’t help but want to be more Motorhead in his presence.  They may all be family, or as near as damn it, but I can only imagine the weight of responsibility shared by those who would help create the first post Motorhead album with the legendary Phil Campbell.

Now you will play the introduction to Gypsy Kiss and know exactly why the last paragraphs preceded further album exploration.  You will hear each and every band members seamless and masterful blending on this track, with familiar elements of stepping to the fore for equal recognition.

Welcome To Hell is truly sensational with its devil may care rock appeal as it ebbs and flows like a tidal lava, lapping at shores of perdition.  The lyrics and the music are truly superb as both draw you in, like the protagonists within the wording, regardless of the eternal damnation that may follow, you willingly surrender to the temptation of the track. Sensational.

Now, Dark Days is a phenomenally brilliant track. Sultry and bluesy, complete with harmonica, bursting with Southern Rock appeal and that solo…DAMN.  A genuine, and let’s call it shameless advertisement of the bands capabilities providing excitement for the future laid before Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, with us as the beneficiaries through their subsequent recordings.   This track is sequenced perfectly at the mid-point providing all the enthusiasm required to trek further, Dropping The Needle on track 7 to see what treasures lay in wait.

You too will feel the camaraderie with Dropping The Needle as PCATBS provide vindication to our reasoning behind buying this album.   Its rock and roll alright and sufficient reason all on its own to pre-order this collection of vinyl.  Mine is the limited clear vinyl exclusively from Nuclear Blast.   Fuck it…I’m getting them all.

Step Into The Fire will have you alight with raw rock ‘n’ roll glee and the ever so subtle punk elements nudge their way a little further forward.  Get On Your Knees (if you’re not there already in reverence to this record)

Get On Your Knees reinforced the unique sound the band have achieved before feedback fittingly provides the atmosphere and Tyla has his bass usher in a warning that band are about to put boot to bot bot and kick your arse with heavy rock brilliance.  This is exactly what transpires, but with a relatively relaxed beginning lulling the listener into a false sense of security.  More deliberate than ironic when one considers suddenly finding oneself on bended knees in this The Age Of Absurdity.   Tyla absolutely shines on this well-constructed and tremendously clever track.

Into The Dark is a brilliantly fitting finale, providing a slower beat and a blues atmosphere blended with classic rock.  This blends into an eventual feel of an 80’s hear metal ballad but without losing the raw rock ‘n’ roll direction.  Perhaps it is the lifetime of experience that Phil brings to the bands creative soul because this track provides an opportunity for each band member to step forward in turn to announce their presence, much like introducing each performer at a live show.  This song is also demonstrative of the wealth of influence and experience that fills the quiver of each member as they group together offer The Age Of Absurdity as their debut release and announce loudly for all to bear witness, that this is merely the beginning of something extremely special in rock and roll.  That something special is Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, and they create phenomenal rock ‘n’ roll.    Bravura lads.