Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons — Kings Of The Asylum (Nuclear Blast)

The phoenix-like rise of Phil Campbell is a fantastic tale of canny reinvention and a refusal to surrender.

But not even the man himself could have expected his Bastard Sons to become so beloved of the metal public so soon.

It only seems like yesterday that a still-grieving Campbell revealed his new band at Wacken Open Air — more in hope than expectation.

And yet ever since that first blast of the Bastards on hallowed German turf — less than a year after Lemmy passed away — an unstoppable force has barely paused for breath.

If early sets, based on a self-titled 2016 EP, were inevitably peppered with his old gaffer’s classics then it’s not taken long for Phil and his brood to build their own bruising back catalogue.

Incredibly, this is the Bastard Sons’ third long player in five years and Kings Of The Asylum boasts plenty of festival-ready bangers ripe for live revelry.

But it’s the band’s first album to feature ‘new’ vocalist Joel Peters.

And while it can’t be easy for the only unrelated member of the Bastard Sons to make his mark, the febrile frontman already feels — and sounds — like one of the family.

Peters screams and hollers his way through 43 minutes of amped up rock and roll on the royally entertaining Kings Of The Asylum.

And the ‘brutally unrepentant tone’ we first identified at Call Of The Wild in 2022 fits the Bastard Sons like the proverbial glove.

If this was meant to be the twilight of Phil Campbell’s career then nobody bothered to tell Lemmy’s old mucker.

It’s looking increasingly like a brave new dawn for the veteran six stringer.

Kings Of The Riff

There’s no messing about on the abrasive and compelling Kings Of The Asylum.

Only one of the 11 songs here dares to advance beyond the five-minute mark.

And that’s the doom-laden, blues-heavy title track as Campbell fuses a punishing 70s-styled groove with A7X at their most commercial.

Elsewhere almost everything is short, sharp and typically shatterproof.

The teasing Too Much Is Never Enough plays on a cracking title and a spit roast of a riff.

Hammer And Dance marries a funky rhythm to Peters’ throaty roar.

And Schizophrenia is a skull-crushing banger that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Bay Area circa 1984.

Campbell can do heavy. He can do blues. And the Motörhead alumnus even reprises Ace Of Spades with The Hunt’s familiar fretwork.

But nobody’s going to complain.

The Bastard Sons never tried to reinvent the wheel.

For Phil and his boys it’s always been about staying true to their roots and keeping metal alive.

Kings Of The Asylum could be the band’s crowning glory.

But we’d wager there’s still plenty more to come now Peters is on board.