I have been looking forward to this album for quite some time. My curiosity in what Motorhead‘s Phil Campbell would do next when it came to musical output was huge and full of excitement. But with all the anticipation came an undying devotion to support a member of one of my favorite bands of all time. Not to mention to also support a fellow Welshman in his future endeavors. Don’t get me wrong though this will be a fair review no matter where my loyalties lie.
“Ringleader” starts the album off with plenty of power as the guitars bounce out of the mix. Not surprisingly since the boss of the band is a guitarist. The double kicks are smashing their way through the mix and the vocals are powerful and grinding. It’s almost like Motorhead with a different voice. This is much more than I expected from Phil Campbell and his bastard offspring. There’s a cracking guitar solo ringing off the walls of the surround on this very well produced album. It has all the Motorhead traits but it’s definitely something different. From the off, this is a very likable track and a powerful opener.
I love the opening riff on “Freakshow” but it reminds me of something familiar. It’s very upbeat and reminds me a little of Buckcherry with that little bit of danceability in the rhythm. The little-upstroked riff that plays over the verse is an ear catcher and then in comes the chorus. The bass is prominent in this one. It gives the track the fullness it needs to compete with Phil‘s guitar. Again a wailing guitar solo rings out over the surround system in my living room. I can feel the air displacing in the room with the beat.
“Skin and Bones” Oooooh baby, that riff when it comes in is full and hard. There’s plenty of power in this one. I really like the vocals so far throughout the album and they fit so well on this song. This one is full of groove and bottom end. I can feel the wind coming off the subwoofer and passing over my legs as I sit here bashing away on the keyboard. One thing I’ve noticed so far about this album and especially this track is it sounds very American. The pace change around the 2.5-minute mark gives the track a whole new dynamic before the solo comes in.
“Gypsy Kiss” from the off sounds very punky and has that Motorhead ring all over it. You can almost imagine the legend that is Lemmy all over this one. It’s fast-paced powerful and has that pounding bass throughout pushing its way through the mix. Around the 1.5-minute mark, I love that ringing on and off guitar sound that’s playing away in the background.
“Welcome to Hell” – The vocals blast in straight away on this one and remind me again very much of Buckcherry. The guitar riff that plays beneath it has all those little intricacies that make it ear-catching from the off. Listening to this as a musician I can hear all the little bits of guitar added in the background and it sounds like ear candy to me. To put it straight this song is as heavy as shit. My ears are loving the pounding they are getting.
“Dark Days” – The deep clanking blues guitar that starts this one off is so deep and resounding, I love it. This is where the blues come to town and it sounds like it’s straight from the streets of Chicago. There’s little bits of blues harp thrown in throughout, the chorus is strong and makes you want to sing along. That solo around the 3-minute mark is sweet and fits so perfectly in the structure of the track. As it should do for the length of time Phil Campbell has been playing. This is now my favorite track on the album.
“Dropping the Needle” starts off with a fast-paced little drum ditty before the guitar falls over it like a smashing waterfall during a hurricane. Again we are in Motorhead territory and I’m liking it. Oh yeah, I’m liking it so much it’s already in contention for 2018’s album of the year and it’s going to be hard to beat. One of the shortest tracks on the album but it was in-your-face from the off.
“Step into the Fire” – Loving the little bit of lead played over the opening riff before the pounding on and off riff comes in proper as the vocals flow in. After eight tracks I’m liking the vocals on this, they fit so well. Probably the weakest song on the album so far but by no means a bad song. Around the 2 minute mark it all slows down and the bass pounds out a rolling riff which sounds so good and then that sweet solo comes in.
“Get On Your Knees” – There’s that Motorhead riffing again that we’ve all come to know and love. Seriously if you’re a fan of the head you should be loving the sound of this album as it’s stamped all over it. It’s no one trick pony though and this song is a prime example, even though it starts with that Motorhead riff it quickly evolves into something else entirely. There’s little notes all over this that make my ears prick up at the sound of them. The solos all over this, as in every song on this album, are immense and expected. I’m glad Phil is back and smashing the crap out of his guitar again, I think Lemmy would expect nothing else from his six-string warrior.
“High Rule” – The bass that kicks this track just rumbles a tremor through my body and the riff that comes in over it again crushes. I love the little widdly bits of guitar playing beneath the vocals on the verse and when that riff comes in over the chorus it’s bouncing all over the place. I love the bridge that comes in at the 2.5-minute mark which features the aforementioned rumbling bass over the vocals.
“Into the Dark” The guitar that starts off the song is so sweet and crisp, it may be simple but it brings something different as the beat and bass play out over it. This is much different to the rest of the album. Again it has that bluesy sound and when the vocals come in it really showcases what this guy can do. This track reminds me so much of classic Gary Moore and Whitesnake it just has that sound all over it. If there’s nothing else you listen to on this album then you have to hear this solo because it’s the finest one on here. It’s full of emotion and wrenches every living bead of sweat out of the plank it’s played on.
Final thoughts on the album
It may not be to everyone’s taste but I found it very appetizing. If you love Motorhead you will probably love this but it has elements of other great bands and styles throughout it. There’s so much more on offer than people’s expectations hold from the ex-Motorhead six-stringer. This album is my first 10/10 for 2018 and it’s going to be hard to beat, I loved it and now I’m off to buy it like you should!
Decibel rating 10/10