As a proud Welshman, I’ve always had a soft spot for Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, even if their musical offerings haven’t always got me salivating. I was bemused when they got rid of vocalist Neil Starr, but having had time to live with their new album, Kings of The Asylum for a while now, I’m pleased to announce that the band have managed the changeover from Starr to new throat Joel Peters as well as can have been expected, meaning that they’ve pretty seamlessly moved into their second era as a band without doing too much damage to their overall sound.
If anything, Peters has slightly less presence than his predecessor; That makes generic rockers like Too Much Is Never Enough a bit problematic, as his voice just doesn’t have the heft to lift the material. However, repeated listens to the album reveal that there is actually very little here that could be regarded as ‘generic’; Taken as a whole this is far and away the strongest album this band has committed to tape.
Tracks of the calibre of Hammer and Dance, The Hunt and No Guts! No Glory! don’t trouble the repertoires of most bands very often, so to come up with three of them on the same album is something of a feat, and one which the band can be justifiably proud. The bluesy swing of the title track is rather spiffing too, giving the central core of the album an indestructible feel. This really is top draw material, the irony being that recruiting a vocalist with less personality has actually enable the band to really forge their own identity with some success.
That identity lies in the field of heavy, classic rock n’roll with a smirk on the lips and a swagger in the hips that at times sounds ready to take on the world with it’s cocksure aplomb. Schizophrenia, for instance – an unlikely marriage of Guns and Roses and Bush-era Anthrax – might just be the best song of it’s type written in the last decade. And even if it isn’t, it’ll have audiences everywhere it’s played in rapture from note one – of that I am sure…
So, troubled waters have been negotiated successfully, and hopefully now the band can go on to bigger and better things armed with an album that suggests the time is now ripe to do just that. Good luck guys!
Kings of the Asylum releases on September 1st.