We’re The Bastards is the second album by Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons which is coming out on Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, November 13. The band of course comprised of ex-Motorhead man Phil Campbell and his 3 sons Todd (guitars), Tyla (bass), Dane (drums) alongside their friend Neil Starr on vocals formed back in 2016 after the death of legendary frontman and bassist Lemmy and up to now have released 1 EP and 1 album back in 2018.
The band said they decided to make another record home in Wales whilst they cannot get out on the road, the place they are all itching to be it would seem. Like previous recordings, this is a mix of classic rock and metal, with of course some Motorhead moments but mixed with AC/DC and Blackstone Cherry amongst others. They write anthemic songs with strong choruses whilst having the energy of a charging rhino. The production is top-notch and it sounds (to me anyway) more in your face than the previous outing.
Into The Songs:
They open with the title track which is a song for fans and crew pointing out they are all part of their family. We might not be related but that doesn’t matter to them. Rather appropriately in these Covid days, they open with the very accurate lyrics “music is medicine, music is therapy” which I will agree with. Personally, music is the one thing keeping this reviewer sane and mentally managing. They even do a throwback to the last album The Age Of Absurdity using the title here to say we have fully reached it. The song continues about their desire to hit the road and crank it up as they “love the music loud“. The music is rocking, having plenty of groove with the opening riff showing their intentions rather quickly.
One of the things I like about the production is that the bass is nice and clear and often upfront. The second song “Son Of A Gun” has a touch of cymbal and a thudding bassline intro before the rest of the band join in. The bass is heard throughout. The song could be political as they suggest “doesn’t matter where you turn, either way, you lose“.
In fact, the following song “Promises Are Poison” keeps that possible theme going and has a go at a leader who isn’t “as dumb as they think you are” however they sing that they cannot wait to “watch them suffer“. It could be about politicians in general or about one in particular. Or it could be about a person in life that has pissed them off. Either way, it is scathing. The music like the lyrics are nothing fancy, it is solid rock music performed with some panache and intensity.
They do like to branch out into more southern grooves at times. Both “Born To Roam” and “Desert Song“. The latter making me think of the first Badlands album in particular (highly recommended). Between them, there are slide guitars and harmonica action, one more upbeat and the other softer and more reflective. Both add extra colour and variety to the album.
At the other end of the scale, we have a song like “Destroyed” which is punk in sound and attitude. With lyrics often ending up with a shout of “fuck you“, this is one that live will certainly get the crowd moving and screaming the words. I also felt that it had a little of that very early Twisted Sister grit and mindset.
“Lie To Me” has a touch of Black Sabbath about it, one riff making me think of “After Forever” quite a bit. And “Riding Straight To Hell” has a hint of “The Jean Genie” by Bowie meaning they definitely have a varied record collection in the household! “Riding” has a great groove about it with little changes keeping it interesting. I particularly like the drop-down to bass and drums before the vocals come back in. Nicely constructed all around. The guitar solos on this as on all the album’s songs are short but effective with some tasteful interplay between father and son. And they alter them to suit the style of song each time so they blend well each time.
Final Thoughts (with one final surprise!):
On the whole a damn fine record of old school rock and metal with some of their influences showing through. Thankfully they have a few so the record never becomes too samey. The album is easy on the ear due to strong melodies and grooves yet packs a punch. Vocally strong with clear diction so the lyrics can be followed. And those lyrics have a bit of attitude in them. Most of the songs will sound great in the live environment (whenever that happens again). And I am sure crowds will merrily headbang and sing to virtually most of them. The only thing that is still freaking me out is “Animals” reminds me in places of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” by Yes in the bits that don’t sound like Motorhead! Obviously a lot bloody heavier but it is there! Can 2020 get any stranger?