Article By: Kira Schlechter ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
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 Self-Titled 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 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.