REVIEW: PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS – Self Titled [EP]
Patience (fuck the literary code) Swag is a virtue that should be respected and not taken for granted. I mean, in a world where Miley Cyrus Instagram pictures of hand prints on her ass cheeks, how many people do you know who ooze the ‘rock star’ charisma of the 70s and the 80s? I might have my hand down my pants when I see a jazz virtuoso perform whirl winds around a drum set at 3000 miles/ hour, but I will most effin’ definitely achieve the truest of erections when I see somebody like Lars Ulrich stick his tongue out while beating 50 different kinds of shit out of the snare while playing “Sad But True”.
The world lost one of the trailblazers of rock ‘n’ roll on the 29th of December last year – a man who defined swag. It would suffice to say that Motorhead would not or rather COULD NOT carry on without the presence of Lord Lemmy, even though Phil Campbell was one of the brains behind the slab of rock ‘n roll that the band put out in their post-Robertson era. Nevertheless, the riffmeister was itching to give the world his music, and decided to do so while keeping things within the family.
The Campbells (Phil and Todd on guitars, Dane on drums and Tyla on bass) joined hands with Neil Starr (vocals) to form Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. The band will release their self-titled debut on November 18th via Motorhead music.
The EP starts with “Big Mouth” which has a very alternative rock-influenced intro before going into a standard rock ‘n’ roll structure. The song oscillates between these patterns before going into the solo. “Big Mouth” is followed by “Spiders”, which is nothing short of mesmerizing. This track has a very southern doom feel to it, with Neil Starr trying to bring the Anselmo out in his vocal delivery. Very different from what Campbell usually does, this track, compounded with a brilliant solo, ups the ante on the album.
The third track “Take Aim” has got all elements of rock ‘n’ roll in it, but also has a tinge of grunge-inspired rock that was a rage circa the late 90s/early 2000s. The song changes texture for a short time in the middle to go into a very Sabbath-inspired passage in the middle, but again with hints of grunge in it. “No Turning Back” is your quintessential Motorhead track, albeit lacking Lemmy’s gruffness which has become a signature in the genre’s blueprint. Neil Starr, even though a brilliant singer, just does not do justice to the track. Like the previous track, this one changes texture in the middle to go again into a very Down-inspired passage before going into the solo, one that is layered with a rock ‘n’ roll-infused accompaniment. The EP closes with “Life in Space”, which is an acoustic track, again very Alter Bridge-influenced, but goes into a very blues rock-inspired (think ZZ Top) section in the middle.
Phil Campbell might not be Lemmy, but he does have a certain rugged grandeur characteristic of the “rock star” with the I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. This EP just does not meet those standards of virility, however. I like bands like Alter Bridge, but it just does not fit in with a band whose name is ‘Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons’. Sure, there are excerpts from the album that cater to bad-assery, but other than “Spiders”, there is no track that makes me go “holy titty fuckin’ shitballz” even once.
All in all, this EP is undoubtedly a mixed package. While the band succeeds in giving the listeners a sense of charm, it fails to hit the mark and does not give them a sense of euphoria. It just cannot be called a good old-fashioned, shit-kicking rock ‘n’ roll record to sink a few beers and play air guitar to. The sound is also a tad bit too polished for the record, makes for an erratic listen, and there will be times when one will go “Oh Damn… I wished they had continued that”. It does not do justice to Phil Campbell’s name, and I hope the band keeps that in mind for their next effort.