(By Kira Schlechter, Guest Contributor/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
To do something new after decades in a comfortable situation – even when you could easily rest on your laurels – is the mark of a true survivor. Guitarist Phil “Wizzo” Campbell, one of the two remaining members of arguably the most successful incarnation of Motörhead, has done exactly that.
Their full-length debut studio album, “The Age Of Absurdity” (ain’t that the truth), is now out from Nuclear Blast; the EP “Live at Solothurn” came out last year, while a S/T EP surfaced in 2016.
The album is enough like Motörhead to be familiar, full of piss and vinegar and Campbell’s blazing, gritty playing, but it backs off on the flat-out speed in favor of heaviness and plenty of bottom. His solos are a treat, his riffs are dependably awesome, and he has always had an energy belying his years.
Starr sings with grit and energy; he can scream, he can deliver an Axl Rose-worthy purr, and he can just outright deliver straight-out rock vocals with aplomb and maturity.
And it’s one great tune after another.
“Freak Show” has a great swing, a paean to the pleasures of excess — partying, being up too late, and playing rock and roll — marked by Campbell’s unmistakable biting tone. “Skin And Bones” has an irresistible groove and a crushing bridge, plus fantastic drumming from Dane.
“Gypsy Kiss” could pass for “I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)” or a host of other Motörhead classics, with its instantly familiar, insanely catchy riff pattern, a killer bass line, and a kiss-off chorus. It’s reminiscent, but not derivative, and altogether a blast.
The snide “Welcome To Hell” is full of punchy wordplay and has an inescapable elastic groove, while the slinky and fabulous “Dark Days” is a bluesy meander, laced with harmonica and a world-weary resignation.
“Step Into The Fire” is a concise ripper, with a Velvet Revolver-esque slide that makes you wish it went on longer – always best to leave ‘em wanting more. “Get On Your Knees” has the kind of clever rhymes that make a lyric freak like me grin insanely.
“Into The Dark” is the lush, sexy closer – Starr croons and snarls and is completely effective, the perfect counterpoint to the twisting main guitar line.
It is so encouraging to see that Campbell has chosen the next generation – in the form of his very capable and talented band – as his means to continue on. To his immense credit, he gives everyone plenty of room to shine, even though he’s now in charge.
This is a fantastic full-length debut, not that anyone would expect less. It replaces or continues nothing – no, not Motörhead – and it’s no vanity project. It’s a legit, potent effort that stands soundly on its own.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.