It’s absurd to wish that a band that isn’t Motörhead sounded more like Motörhead, I know, especially given the fact that after thirty two years it’s entirely reasonable that Phil Campbell should want to get out and explore other musical avenues, but… there are moments on The Age of Absurdity when you find yourself wishing just that, and, if I’m honest, it’s coloured my judgement of this album just a little.
You find yourself thinking these thoughts most obviously on the tracks where the Bastard Sons almost break into full Lemmy, like album opener Ringleader. The pulse starts racing, drummer Dane Campbell gets a little Philthy on the drums, you think it’s gonna happen, but then the band draw back, leaving the listener teetering on the brink. It’s a tease, for sure, and when the band then go on to indulge in a little generic, modern hard rock like the next tracks Freak Show and Skin and Bones you really will – if you’re anything like me, that is – be feeling a bit grumpy and frustrated.
However it has to be said that, for all this almost certainly unreasonable whingeing, there is some really strong material here, which really takes repeated listens before giving away it’s undoubted favours on the ear. Final track Into the Dark, a slow-burning, serpentine epic, really sends the album off in spectacular style, the whole band moving as one to deliver really classic hard rock of a timeless nature that you’ll find yourself returning to over and over again.
Elsewhere the bluesy Dark Days is pretty classy, and if the sleazy Get on Your Knees doesn’t excite your musical tastebuds even a little then I’d have to say that , to quote the great Steve Wright, you might need a ‘check up from the neck up’…
Dropping the Needle is a nice sub-two minute rocker that gets the feet tapping, whilst High Rule is another track that definitely deserves a mention in dispatches, riding in on some cool bass from Tyla Campbell before adopting a lurching, misshapen riff that’s one of the best on the record.
At the end of the day, Phil Campbell is a master craftsman, and The Age of Absurdity echoes just that. He’s marshalled his young padawans well, and whatever my opening comments might allude to in spirit, I truly hope this band go from strength to strength in the future… without any Motörhead comparisons at all if need be!
The Age of Absurdity is released by Nuclear Blast on January 26th.