Old Lions Still Roar
The new solo album from Phil Campbell is a demonstration of the former Motorhead guitarist’s musical and emotional range. Over ten songs and nine different vocalists, Campbell speaks through guitar work and the voices of some high-level rock singers. Guests Rob Halford and Alice Cooper make early appearances on the solid but by-the-numbers hard rock tunes “Straight Up” and “Swing It.”
Dee Snider wails on the heavy standout “These Old Boots,” with former Motley Crue axe-man Mick Mars. Through simple and power chord-heavy guitar, “These Old Boots” sets a rebellious tone and platform for Snider to lead a head banger of a chorus, which is essentially an anthem to the album’s musicians: “These old boots don’t walk away/I’m standing my ground/These old boots…are here to stay!”
Other energetic cuts, like “Dancing Dogs” and “Walk the Talk,” respectively featuring Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), Nick Oliveri (ex-Queens of the Stone Age) and Danko Jones, are downtuned with swagger and attitude in the style of Velvet Revolver. And though Old Lions is largely steeped in hard rock, several tracks reveal Campbell’s warmer side. The lead cut, “Rocking Chair,” is an acoustic tale of a lifelong, traveling musician. Heartily sung by Leon Stanford, though the song indicates the album will not be a Motorhead-driven victory lap, there is a bit of homage to the late Lemmy Kilmister with the line, “I don’t want to live forever,” famously screamed during “Ace of Spades.”
Campbell surprisingly brings the listener into ballad territory with the piano-led “Dead Roses” and “Left for Dead.” Both explore relationships and loneliness, but neither morph into power ballads and may be quite the left turn for longtime Motorhead fans. Old Lions does not even try to replicate the intensity from Campbell’s output with Motorhead or more recent success while leading The Bastard Sons. Still, this solo debut should cater to fans’ need for new music from a hard rock champion, while showing another of Campbell’s musical personalities.
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Justin Smulison is a professional content writer and producer whose first love is music. Smulison’s digital and print copywriting experience spans music, law, true crime, advertising and real estate, among other subjects. You can often find JS in Long Beach, New York, either running on the boardwalk or in the sand with his family.