Kings Of The Asylum

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Walking In Circles
02. Too Much Is Never Enough
03. Hammer And Dance
04. Strike The Match
05. Schizophrenia
06. Kings Of The Asylum
07. The Hunt
08. Show No Mercy
09. No Guts! No Glory!
10. Ghosts
11. Maniac

It was probably inevitable that Phil Campbell would continue to fly the flag of ear-wrecking rock 'n' roll, after the untimely demise of MOTÖRHEAD. After four decades of dedication to Lemmy's relentless crew and having learned directly from the best to ever do it, the emergence of PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS felt both noble and necessary. Swiftly but respectfully shrugging off the mantle of a MOTÖRHEAD cover band, the Welsh quintet have been a joy to watch ever since. While many of today's so-called "classic" rock revisionists are too studied and sepia-toned to truly stir the soul, the BASTARD SONS have consistently revelled in blood, sweat, tears and an unwavering ethos of no fucking around.

The follow-up to 2020's absurdly enjoyable "We're The Bastards", "Kings Of The Asylum" sounds massive and joyous. Ferocious but organic guitar tones fill the foreground, frontman Joel Peters roars triumphantly on top and an air-tight rhythm section pound away with authority. "Walking In Circles" is a magnificent opener: bombastic but gritty, and with a giant, arena-size chorus, it drives and grinds with SEX PISTOLS-like forward force, delivering the first of many massive hooks along the way. "Schizophrenia" is even better; a scorched earth hard rock with a thrashy edge and a dark underbelly. "Strike The Match" is a punked-up bruiser, with sublime vocal lines that channel early DEF LEPPARD through a prism of obnoxiousness. The languid blues shuffle of the title track gives '80s hard rock a jolting dose of steroids and snot.

Again, it's the overall sound of this thing that makes it so irresistible. Aside from cementing their own trademark sound, PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS are getting heavier and gnarlier, while simultaneously writing their most incisive, accessible material to date. "Too Much Is Never Enough" and "Ghosts" stand out as the album's most immediate bullseyes, with the latter offering a fiendish blend of NWOBHM-ish riffing and sharp pop-rock melodies. Meanwhile, "The Hunt" makes it plain that this band are more than justified in noisily evoking MOTÖRHEAD when the mood takes them. Fast and furious, just as Lemmy intended, it simply cannot fail to cause carnage at live shows. Likewise, "Show No Mercy" sounds like STATUS QUO and the RAMONES on a runaway train to Hell; "No Guts! No Glory!" is one half blistering Motör-heft, and one half pummelling post-grunge; "Maniac" is a stripped-down rocker with heavy ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE vibes and regular cries of "fuck off!" All of it rocks indecently hard.

Palpably designed to be performed live and at extreme volume, "Kings Of The Asylum" suggests that Phil Campbell hasn't even begun to think about retirement yet. Instead, he and his band are helpfully showing everybody else how to do this rock 'n' roll thing properly.

Author: Dom Lawson
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