Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – Kings Of The Asylum: Album Review

No frills but a surfeit of thrills from Phil Campbell and the gang.

Release Date: 1st September 2023

Label: Nuclear Blast

Format: CD / digital / LP

Kings Of The Aslylum finds Phil Campbell & The BS joining the Hard Rock bands (of whom we’ve noticed a few recently) in making a stand, with eleven songs that run the good old-fashioned album length of 43 minutes. The vinyl revival playing its part maybe with old school values seeping from the core. None of the ‘cram as much as you can onto the 80-minute CD’ nonsense here.

It’s also the first album with new singer Joel Peters who’s bedded in splendidly. He’s got plenty of gigs with the band in his locker, packing stage time with the crowd pleasers (our recent encounter in Leeds), that see the BS’s delving into Phil’s past and keeping alive the spirit of Lemmy. Kings Of The Asylum though, is something else. We know how they can power through a varied live set, but the new songs offer a different MO.

The ambition comes via the title track centrepiece that runs to a lengthy five and a half minutes. Think along the lines of Brotherhood Of Man and The Thousand Names Of God but with a bluesy intent. A vehicle for some searing white hot soloing, yet it provides a rare respite on an album that’s a serial repeater when it comes to an onslaught of explosive blasts of Metal.

Strike The Match is typical. A four to the floor no holds barred, no punches pulled, heart stopping throb of excitement. You might spot the roots without too much trouble, but be ready to get carried away with the late song breakdown that’s set to offer some opportunities for audience participation. Joel will be readying his ‘this side‘ – ‘that side‘ rivalry as we speak.

The whole set is an exercise in riffology – wave after wave of thick and classic stabs and backed by a relentless rhythm section where not surprisingly, given the history, the bass is to the fore. The Hunt reinforces those roots with a machine gun intensity and more beats per minute than you can shake a stick at. Brilliant track and one that reminds us how Metal and Punk were (and still are) strange bedfellows.

Party hard, hit the road – rock and roll will save your soul’” is the message in Too Much Is Never Enough while Schizophrenia builds on another relentless riff and an ominous admission of “I need those chemicals” that cements a place for Phil and the BS in the current premier league of British Hard Rock with Wayward Sons, Black Star Riders and Massive Wagons. Keeping the flag flying proudly.

Speaking of messages, Show No Mercy and No Guts! No Glory!, to coin a cliche, do what it says on the tin. The latter a real battle cry, fearsomely so, which would have the likes of some of the nation’s enemies quaking in whatever they wore on their feet. And while there’s much heavy rock and much heavy roll on offer, Ghosts swings and swaggers at the back end of the album but Maniac brings down the curtains with a real rollicking (and typically PC & BS) attitude. Mucho good humoured and self-effacing profanity and again, onstage there’s lots of potential for audience participation.

As Phil puts it, rather succinctly – “it totally kicks ass!” Who are we to disagree? And deserving of no greater honour than giving the Kings Of The Asylum the middle finger.

…and while we have him in our sights, why not follow his advice as the self proclaimed Welsh Wanker recommends, “put on your dancing shoes and get ready for Hammer And Dance“:

Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons online: Website / Facebook / X / Instagram

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