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Spiritual Beggars: Earth Blues

My how time flies. Three years have passed since Spiritual Beggars released their excellent Return To Zero album, yet Earth Blues still finds this stoner/classic rock band joyously celebrating the seventies through the likes of Sabbath, Purple and especially Uriah Heep. Boy, do they do it well!

With a now stable line-up consisting of bandleader and guitarist Michael Amott (also of Arch Enemy and once of Carcass), drummer Ludwig Witt (Grand Magus), bassist Shalree D'Angelo (Arch Enemy, Witchery), keyboard maestro Per Wilburg (ex-Opeth) and singer Apollo Papathanasio (ex-Firewind), not only have Spiritual Beggars really hit their stride with Earth Blues, but they've done so in a style which reeks of confidence and assuredness. Yes the basis for this album's outlook is still the huge Hammond swirl that made Uriah Heep such a force all those years ago (and still does up to this very day), but when you add in the ever present stonerness of Monster Magnet, the SB lads have a great mix of power and passion on their side. However this time round there's a little something more brought to the seventies induced party in the shape of the odd hint of the more commercially successful aspect of King Crimson, bringing a maturity to the sound and scope of what is on offer here.

However let's not pretend that Earth Blues isn't all about humungous riffs, howling keyboard and throat bursting vocals - it is - and thank goodness for that! Sample the groove-tabular "Too Old To Die Young" to discover the sound of the seventies brought bang up to date, or the stomping Dio era Sabbath meets Heep of "Kingmaker" for a power packed punch of riffola. Papathanasio absolutely revels in this setting, using his expressive delivery to hammer these songs home. However if there is a star on show it is a straight fight between the riff-monster Amott and the Hammond demon Wilburg. Although what really wins you over on the likes of the pulsating "Road To Madness", schizophrenic power one minute introspective the next "Sweet Magic Pie", or rabble rousing honker-stomper of "Wise As A Serpent" is the manner in which the two expertly combine.

Unashamedly retro, yet slap bang in the here and now in terms of execution and sound, Earth Blues is a thunderous release that demands your attention. Imagine what these guys could do if this wasn't merely a side-project!

Track Listing
1. Wise As A Serpent
2. Turn The Tide
3. Sweet Magic Pain
4. Hello Sorrow
5. One Man's Curse
6. Dreamer
7. Too Old To Die Young
8. Kingmaker
9. Road To Madness
10. Dead End Town
11. Freedom Song
12. Legends Collapse

Added: April 13th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Spiritual Beggars Online
Hits: 3751
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Spiritual Beggars: Earth Blues
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-04-13 09:50:18
My Score:

If you've been following the career of Spiritual Beggars, you obviously are aware that the band are much more than a side project for Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott. In fact, it's no secret that Amott holds this band in high regards and has been waiting for their breakout moment, which with the release of Earth Blues could very well be upon us. The reason why this might happen now you ask? Well, for starters, the album kicks ass, but more importantly, Amott has brought on board a secret weapon in the form of vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Gus G's Firewind, who can now devote more time to this band. Blessed with pipes that are perhaps only second to Jorn Lande, Papathanasio is the perfect fit for Spiritual Beggars' brand of '70s styled hard rock, doom, & stoner metal, much better than with the power metal act Firewind. Add to the fact that keyboard player Per Wiberg is no longer in Opeth, and both Amott & bassist Sharlee D'Angelo are on a break from Arch Enemy, the time seems ripe for this band to finally take that next step.

Of course, the material has to back all this up and it certainly does. Tracks like "One Man's Curse", "Wise As A Serpent", and "Turn The Tide" just ooze that '70s hard rock vibe that so many of us still adore, complete with meaty guitar work, tasty Hammond organ, and powerful vocals. "Dreamer" is dripping with Wiberg's dreamy Mellotron, Hammond, and Fender Rhodes alongside Papathanasio's bluesy vocal and Amott's emotional guitar solo, making this track a must for fans of Deep Purple MkIII.

"Too Old To Die Young" is like the perfect marriage of Purple, Uriah Heep, and Whitesnake, while "Kingmaker" brings up images of a midnight jam between Dio era Sabbath and Uriah Heep's Hammond wizard Ken Hensley. Throw in kick ass rockers like "Road to Madness" and "Freedom Song", complete with sizzling guitar work from Amott and Papathanasio's soaring vocal histrionics, as well as the grueling, grinding Sabbath/Heep scorcher "Legends Collapse", and you have the makings of a wonderful heavy rock album.

Throw in a 2nd CD of scorching bonus live cuts (US edition) and Earth Blues becomes even more potent. Along with the latest from Voodoo Circle, this brand new one from Spiritual Beggars is a must hear for anyone into vintage hard rock & metal styles, and shows a band that is really peaking and ready to take over the world.

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