There's just a little bit of me which will be forever
stuck in the early seventies. I just can't help it!
I don't want to let go of it (I couldn't if I tried!)
The same would seem to be true of Swedish heavy-rock
band Spiritual Beggars. Their new album 'Return To Zero'
made an old Wolf smile. It has stepped out of a time capsule
fully-formed and glistening with perky period detail.
If you can get past the cover artwork without giggling
then you will find some real anachronistic treasures inside.
The band are : Apollo Papathanasio/vocals, Michael Amott/
guitar, Per Wiberg/keyboards, Sharlee D'Angelo/bass and
Ludwig Witt/drums. As befits their chosen craft long hair
and splendid moustaches feature heavily. They also happen to
play very well together with buckloads of good dark energy.
Mr Papathanasio is a fine singer with a strapping pair of
lungs. He deploys it with just the right amount of drama
which these twelve songs (and a moody little instrumental
introduction) demand. When he opens up and lets rip, as he
does convincingly on 'Lost In Yesterday', his larynx is
truly an instrument to be feared but he is also capable of
restraint and not a little tenderness, as he demonstrates on
the gently rolling, near-folksy number, 'Spirit Of The Wind'.
Mr Amott gives good riff. There are some absolutely huge ones
to deal with. He also spins some powerfully elegant solos
without ever descending into excess or bathos (an omnipresent
risk in this genre!) There are a couple of particularly good
ones on 'Lost In Yesterday' (where he howls like a banshee
over Mr Wiberg's swirling organ) and 'Concrete Horizon'
(which may well have made a few nails jump out of the studio
Things relax nicely for a few minutes on the rather lovely
'The Road Less Travelled', a song which would not have
sounded out of place as Sweden's entry to The Eurovision Song
Contest some time way back when (I mean this in a kind way!)
Final track 'Time To Live' is, probably unintentionally,
rather funny. The main thematic motif is more than a little
histrionic and Mr P struts, screams and yodels like a man possessed.
The fact that the band is clearly deadly serious about both
the composition and the intense gravitas of their performance
is, in the end, both convincing and highly entertaining.
It is what it is and I liked it a lot.
on 1 April 2013
Are you Spiritual?
Are you a Beggar?
Are you a Zero?
Do you have Long Hair?
Do you like Retro ROCK?
DO you like Swedes?
Do you like Retro Rocking Swedes?
I'm sure you do. I do. These guys ROCK. Heavy, but not ccompletely METAL but then again METAL enough.
My recommendation is BUY and party like it's 1975. or earlier.