Album Review: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, We’re the Bastards

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

On Christmas Eve, 2014, the heavy metal was dealt with a huge low blow. Lemmy of Motöhead had departed this world for the great poker table in the Big Sky. That meant no more Motörhead shows or new albums, and I will never get to see them live. His comrades-in-arms have gone on to bigger things. Drummer Mickey Dee has become the new drummer for German heavy metal legends Scorpions (with a new record on its way next year), while longtime axe man Phil Campbell embarked on a solo career with own band that features his three sons; Todd, Dane and Tyla. They dub themselves Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, featuring Todd as a second guitarist, Dane on the drums, and Tyla as the bassist. With Neil Starr handling the microphone, Phil and his little bastards look to kick metalheads in the balls further following their successful 2018 debut, The Age of Absurdity, with their sophomore release, We’re the Bastards. 

We start the album off with the title track. The opening riff is thick and juicy, with Phil and Todd getting their hands dirty with bombastic licks. Starr sings with an upbeat enthusiasm as he tells the listener he cannot wait to return to road and the shake the ground where we stand. This is the way to make an entrance. Tyla’s bass rolls out a mighty beat to start “Son Of a Gun,” the record’s first single. I see this song as a statement that media is so far gone and will dilute everyone for ratings. Phil rages an insane yet humble solo, while Dane is a rock on the drums. They took aim, and the Bastards hit the bullseye. “Promises Are Poison” is smoking right out of the hard rock gun barrel. Starr is very refined but poignant at the same time with his vocal delivery. Phil once again blazes a white-hot solo that highlights his skills. “Born To Roam” has the great Southern rock swagger that is accustomed with .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It is awesome to hear Phil and his sons pay homage to that subgenre. “Animals” is an explosive hard number that features an intense, smoldering solo that Phil makes so crispy that it is so delicious. Starr penned a great lyric in “I’m not addicted, I just can’t walk away,” meaning he is the life of the party.

“Bite My Tongue” is laced with commanding riff, but I felt the lyrics were a bit generic. Other than the excellent musicianship, I see it as one of those throw away songs meant to be a filler for the album. It is still enjoyable though to hear. “Desert Song” is very country-oriented where Todd displays his harmonica talents. Lyrically, this is one of their best-written songs because it is full of raw emotion and somber, as heard through Starr’s cultured singing. Phil does a stellar job mixing his metal vibes on the guitar with the country melody. We approach “Keep Your Jacket On,” where the music sizzles once more. It jolts your senses and fires up your motors for what lies ahead. Dane creates an upscale drum harmony that compliments the sweet solo Phil lays down. All the while, Todd wails on the rhythm section, as if he is Malcolm to Phil’s Angus. “Lie To Me” starts off with a brief moment of silence, and then the guitars come roaring in. This is song is pure Motörhead influenced, extremely heavy with a slight thrash thrown in there. Dane and Tyla are a deafening duo with their blasting riffs. Lemmy would definitely descend from Heaven to jam on this song.

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons now have us “Riding Straight to Hell.” This song is a straight-up head banger all the way through. Armed with an old-school rock riff, you can crank this song to 11, particularly during Phil’s electric solo. The wheels are coming apart, and we are enjoying the ride. “Hate Machine” is a throwback to the punk rock scene. The guitar beats are blazing at rapid speed and bass is crunchy on the main riff. Starr punches a hole in the sky with his vocals on the song aimed at taking down hate and indifference. I can envision mosh pits going fucking crazy over this tune. I look forward to that. “Destroyed” is the album’s shortest song, but it still delivers a prevailing right cross to the face. Fast-paced and melodic, the listener will be destroyed by this song. We’re the Bastards concludes with “Waves.” Tyla gets the spotlight with his opening bass lick that puts this power ballad in motion. The main riff is just 3 notes that shine brightly. It might seem strange for Phil to end the record like this, but he pulls it off with his 80s style solo. After head banging almost non-stop, this ballad ends the album on a more than satisfying note.

Nuclear Blast Records does it again with this group. We’re the Bastards has defined what Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons are hoping to accomplish; make the album they want and have fun doing it. Todd does a brilliant job producing this record. Aching for shows to start-up again, this group is gearing to tear 2021 a new one and this album is going to help them do it. To Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, I salute you. Horns up!!!


Track Listing:

We’re The Bastards
Son Of A Gun
Promises Are Poison
Born To Roam
Bite My Tongue
Desert Song
Keep Your Jacket On
Lie To Me
Riding Straight To Hell
Hate Machine

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