Phil Campbell – Old Lions Still Roar (2019)

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When the iconic Lemmy passed away in December of 2015, most people were probably wondering what the surviving members would do with themselves.  There was still Motörhead related work to do, with a covers album emerging in 2017, plus a slew of re-issues, but the allure of playing live music was always going to call to them.  Drummer, Mikkey Dee joined Scorpions, but guitarist, Phil Campbell went his own route, first with the Bastard Sons, and now with his first ever solo album.

Old Lions Still Roar is the title of the record, and roar they certainly do.  Well, mostly they roar, but on opener, Rocking Chair – featuring Leon Stanford, it’s more of a subtle country meets blues ballad.  Acoustic strumming and an excellent vocal usher in the rest of the album.

Straight Up ramps things up, with fiery guitars, bombastic rhythms and a guest spot from the metal god himself, the one and only Rob Halford.  Don’t expect any of the trademark wailing from Halford though, the song doesn’t require it.  This is a great hard rock track just the same.

Orange Goblins Be Ward drops in for Faith in Fire, and there’s definitely more of a chugging heavy metal feel here.  Swing It, featuring Alice Cooper, is another metal banger, and Alice is the perfect voice for this track.  The backing band is also made up of a who’s who of rock musicians – Chris Fehn, Ray Luzier, Matt Sorum, Joe Satriani, Chuck Garric, and Phil’s sons Tyla and Todd Campbell.

Left for Dead scales back the metal vibes, for an impressive ballad, featuring some stellar guitar work, and a great vocal from Nev McDonald.  Nick Oliveri adds bass guitar and his fiery vocals to Walk the Talk.  This is a groove laden track with moments of aggression that get the blood pumping.

These Old Boots was the first single, and makes for a major highlight.  Dee Snider adds his killer vocals over the top of rollicking hard rock riffs and fist pumping rhythms.  These old boots are here to stay, they say, and I hope they are, because old boots are comfortable.

One of the most underrated vocalists of all time, Whitfield Crane, of Ugly Kid Joe pops up on Dancing Dogs.  Each vocalist selected on this album does a fantastic job of complementing the material, but maybe none better than Whit right here.  There’s a certain madness to his delivery that works with the chugging riffs and lead guitar work.  This is a banger.

Dead Roses completely blindsided me.  Benji Webbe of Skindred and Dub War fame is the vocalist here, and it’s not at all what I expected from him.  This is a gentle piano driven track, and I expected his unique brand of reggae metal – this is not a bad track by any means – definitely a pleasant surprise.

To close out a pretty good album, we have the instrumental number, Tears From A Glass Eye.  This showcases the guitar prowess of Campbell, offering up techniques that you may have never heard from him.  It’s another gentle moment, cutting through the mostly heavy record.  I like an energetic closer, but this works well.

As far as solo albums go, this is great work, but I do prefer Phil’s work with his Bastard Sons.

7/10

Shayne McGowan.

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