Keep your eyes and ears opened, and you will find a million ways to transform your life. In the case of Phil Campbell, that saying has proven to be true many times. From his humble beginnings learning guitar, to forming the ambitious yet short lived Persian Risk to joining Motörhead, his path has been a curious one, which could be defined by adaptation as much as consistency.
The longest standing member of Motörhead aside from Lemmy himself, Phil went through many lineup and style changes with the band, and was forced into reinventing himself once again when the commander-in-chief passed away in 2015. It would be easy to get Mikkey Dee, the other surviving member, and go out playing tunes of his deceased group in the nostalgia circuit forever, but he chose to tread uncharted territory one more time. And so, in the aftermath of Motörhead’s dissolution Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons was born.
It all started as an excuse to go out and play with his sons Todd (guitar), Tyla (bass) and Dane (drums) and powerhouse front-man Neil Starr, but the profile of these Bastards kept rising and rising as more shows were booked. They were quickly elevated to new heights after securing a prestigious support slot on Guns N’ Roses’ 2017 summer stadium run. Fast forward to 2020, and with Covid-19 getting in the way of more touring, it was time to put together a new album. Their sophomore effort “We’re the Bastards” will be available on November 13th, and brings their passion, swagger and raucousness to a whole new level. In short, it’s the sound of a great band hitting their stride and buzzing with confidence.
Kicking off with both a nod to the fans and a toot of their own horns, the all-guns-blazing title track was carefully designed to be the opening song of their set, with a chorus that will be quickly embraced by a crowd sporting denim jackets, white sneakers and tight pants. One doesn’t spend thirty plus years in a band and leaves it completely behind, and echoes of Phil’s previous band can he heard on the equally explosive “Son of a Gun”, with Tyla doing his best to emulate Lemmy’s beefy bass tone, and on the frantic and heavy “Animals”.
It takes a delicate balance to combine a raw approach with the attention to detail, and the Bastard Sons manage to do that with ease. While the rawness can be exemplified by the overall distortion and loudness of the instruments, the dedication to their craft is clear in Neil’s lyrics. Never one to resort to clichés, he also avoids one of the most dangerous traps of rock and roll, which is to have the song titles endlessly repeated in the chorus. On the contrary, his lyrics are always spirited and adventurous, as exemplified in songs like “Bite My Tongue” and “Hate Machine”.
“We’re the Bastards” is not only more inspired than its predecessor, it’s also a much more diverse and adventurous affair, as Starr and the Campbells expand their vision to include a greater sense of dynamics and atmosphere and even. Contrasting the high octane numbers like the aforementioned opening track or “Hate Machine”, the stomping, mid-tempo and bluesy “Born To Roam” and the trippy and atmospheric “Desert Song” point towards the American influence on the band’s songwriting.
Elsewhere, “Keep Your Jacket On” and “Riding Straight to Hell” bring a little touch of AC/DC with a modern edge and great production. The album ends with another perfect example of how the wise use of contrast can yield great results: the punk-ish “Destroyed” and the spacious and grungy “Waves” couldn’t be more different from each other, and bring things to a close in the highest possible note.
Recorded and engineered by Todd in his studio in Wales and mixed by Soren Andersen(GlennHughes/TheDeadDaisies/TheAnswer), “We’re The Bastards” works as a soundtrack to a night out in a smoky bar, a road trip or a street riot. There’s anger, tenderness, romance and adventure in equal measures, and showcases the convincing leap forward the band has taken, in a very short period of time. Depending on you look at it, the songs here will make you angrier or uplift you, which makes this a perfect soundtrack for a year like 2020.
Released By: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: November 13th, 2020
Genre: Hard Rock
- Phil Campbell / Guitar
- Todd Campbell / Guitar
- Tyla Campbell / Bass
- Dane Campbell / Drums
- Neil Starr / Vocals
“We’re The Bastards” Track listing:
1. We’re The Bastards
2. Son Of A Gun
3. Promises Are Poison
4. Born To Roam
6. Bite My Tongue
7. Desert Song
8. Keep Your Jacket On
9. Lie To Me
10. Riding Straight To Hell
11. Hate Machine
Bonus tracks (limited digipak):
14. Big Mouth (Live)
15. Freak Show (Live)
16. Dark Days (Live)
17. Rock ‘N’ Roll (Live)
Mixing the experience of an old lion like Phil and the youth and fire of his sons proved to be the perfect match. "We're the Bastards" solidifies the initial impression of the debut "The Age of Absurdity", and captures the hypnotic energy of their live performance. An album with the “Highway to Hell” and “Appetite for Destruction” stamps of approval!