Thursday 28 November 2013

Spiritual Beggars - S/T Reissue (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released :  14/10/2013
Label : Century Media

Spiritual Beggars Re-Issue, album track listing

1. Yearly Dying* (03:57)
2. Pelekas* (04:12)
3. The Space In Between* (03:57)
4. If This Is All* (04:46)
5. Under Silence* (03:59)
6. Magnificient Obsession* (09:11)
7. Blind Mountain (1994 version) (04:19)
8. If You Should Leave (1994 version) (04:32)
9. Nowhere To Go (1994 version) (06:00)
10. Sour Stains (1994 version) (05:01)

11. Left Brain Ambassador (1999 demo) (03:16)
12. Save Your Soul (1999 demo) (03:54)
13. Until The Morning (1999 demo) (05:13)
14. Angel Of Betrayal (1999 demo) (03:46)
15. Per Aspera Ad Astra (1999 demo) (04:19)
16. Blessed (instrumental version 1999 demo) (03:28)
17. Let The Magic Talk (1999 demo #2) (04:19)
18. The Goddess (1999 demo #2) (03:24)
19. Mr White (Trouble cover) (03:26)
20. Broken Morning (1996 demo) (02:24)
21. Monster Astronauts (1996 demo) (04:06)
22. Sad Queen Boogie (1996 demo) (06:31)
23. Mushroom Tea Girl (1996 demo) (10:50)
24. Inside Charmer (1996 demo) (04:37)
25. Trouble In My Head (instrumental 1995 demo) (05:09)

 * original album track from 1994
Total running time: 118:37

The Band :

Michael Amott | Guitars
Ludwig Witt | Drums
Christian Sjostrand | Vocals, Bass

Review :

Spiritual Beggars have, incredibly, now been around for twenty years; astounding to think that Heartwork was being recorded by Michael Amott as the genesis of Spiritual Beggars was also in the offing. As incongruous as these two projects may seem, they are both well worth any heavy music fan's time.

The re-issue features lots of cool stuff that you haven't got with the original ten track album. As this is a re-issue, I am not going to give a track by track run down. Instead, a look shall be cast over the record's place in time and the history. Christian Sjostrand puts in a creditable vocal performance- albeit he is no JB (later of Grand Magus). Groove based stoner rock is very much the order of the day here; the band must have been an oddity in the era. Sure, Fu Manchu and Kyuss were around, but they are a very different proposition from the Beggars version of retro/stoner rock.

The guitars have a nice tone to them and the drums are pleasingly live. Indeed, the whole record sounds raw and spontaneous and that is a good thing with music like this. The production suits things well, all in all, and the mix is great too. The sound has not dated- it fits well with the timeless feel of the music on offer. The band has gone through several progressions and changes over the course of their career culminating in their recent Deep Purple worshipping “Earth Blues” Opus.

For me, my favourite would probably be “Demons,” but “Earth Blues” and “AD Astra” gives it a good run for its money. If you have never heard the band in their earliest form, what are you waiting for?! Big grooves, big sounds and big hooks- all the ingredients are there and long before Graveyard, Witchcraft or any other Swedish outfit was ploughing the hard rock furrow. The record is distinctly metallic in places- certainly compared to later releases- but the soulful vocals and deftness of playing elevate it above stoner/hard rock by numbers and handles the heavier riffs and sections subtly.

The band does spread its wings away from the riff-riff-riff formula; check out the nine minutes plus of  Magnificent Obsession for proof. Amott's enjoyment of the jamming feel and solos is obvious; the vibe is just right. There are grooves and blues infected riffs aplenty, great rhythms and some superb guitar playing. The extras come in the form of career spanning demos. Many are not related to this line-up or record at all, but it is certainly interesting to listen through to see how the band has changed and there is even the Trouble cover Mr White from the “Bastards Will Pay” Tribute album. Excellent!

If you have any interest in hard rock or stoner rock then the Spiritual Beggars are a must. If you like your history and want to check out the godfather's of the current hard rock/retro call-it-what-you-will revival, then start here by all means. 1994 had some cracking records and this is right up there with the best of them.

Words by : Richard Maw

You can buy it here

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