May 11, 2016 Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown (Album Review)
Different from other all-star-musical projects, which disappear as soon as they come up, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars are looking back on an almost two and a half decades career now. Begun by mastermind and guitar wizard Michael Amott following his departure from Melodic Death Metal pioneers Carcass and before launching Arch Enemy a few years later, Spiritual Beggars was something vastly different than he had done before. Influenced by ’70s Rock-n-Roll, Spiritual Beggars crosses into a Psychedelic Metal realm, a style that has become even more popular in the years to follow with other bands.
Debuting in 1994 with their self-titled album, since that time the band has released eight more studio records, including their 2016 output, Sunrise to Sundown. With the stable lineup of Amott along with Arch Enemy’s Bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, Grand Magus/Fire Drummer Ludwig Witt, ex-Firewind Singer Apollo Papathanasio and Candlemass’ Per Wiberg behind the keyboards, Sunrise To Sundown was produced by Staffan Karlsson, who has worked with Amott for Arch Enemy albums. Released via Inside Out Music on March 25th in the USA, like Spiritual Beggars previous work, Sunrise To Sundown takes the music if a different direction.
Although many assume the songs of Spiritual Beggars are solely written by founding member Amott, the songwriting process on Sunrise To Sundown was in fact a spontaneous band collaboration. There were tracks written by each member as they entered the studio, regarding it in just a few days. Here the talented group of musicians figured and worked out their parts in live-rehearsal before pressing the red button to record. From the opening, very riff-oriented, title track, the band displays spirit and passion that penetrates throughout the album. The music sounds smooth and natural, thus showing listeners that there was little pressure involved with creating this album. A matter of fact, it is full of potential Hippie hits, rendering homage to bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Uriah Heep. The following song, album leading single “Diamond Under Pressure,” is reminiscent of the aforementioned Deep Purple, mixed with a Southern Rock flair. The enjoyable listen would make the late great Jon Lord proud of Wiberg’s Hammond sound.
Moving along, “What Doesn’t Kill You” has the feel of a brisk Rainbow song. While many will enjoy this, some may feel like they have already heard something similar to it in the past. Nonetheless, “Hard Road” is a solid tune which sees Amott lend glory moments with his wah-wah guitar leads as an addictive riff holds things together. Then, “Still Hunter” goes down smoothly as it is coupled with a catchy chorus, sounding like a track one would easily hear in heavy rotation on Classic Rock radio. Coming on a little heavier, Rainbow or Whitesnake apostles will enjoy and celebrate “No Man’s Land” where Papathanasio sounds a bit like David Coverdale. In addition, the track mixes a variety of textures midway through with keyboards, complementing the guitar sounds and faint vocals in the backdrop.
More than half way through the record, “I Turn To Stone” falls out of the standard frame, playing out with little guitar at all as eerie keystrokes and drums dress the landscape. It is an ambient piece that will send the listener on a trip they will not want to get off. Then, waking the audience from the trance, “Dark Light Child” jolts back into heavier Rock, even spreading memories on the band’s glorious debut album. Giving Stoner and Southern Rock fans their money’s worth, “Lonely Freedom” comes along with a very inventive style. A groove that is undeniable, it is a track late in the album worth putting on repeat. This is prior to the album’s conclusion with ruckus rocker “You’ve Been Fooled” and mellow sounding “Southern Star,” which features some excellent jam-style musicianship to close the journey out.
With Sunrise To Sundown, the Spiritual Beggars do not offer a groundbreaking record, but that really is not the point. They took to the studio and let their impulses flow, and that transported into a solid Retro-style Stoner Rock album. There is no doubt that Spiritual Beggars fans will dig this album, and with Retro-Rock being very popular these days, there is no reason why they should not attract more new listeners as well. CrypticRock gives Sunrise To Sundown 3.5 out of 5 stars.