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September 23, 2017


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Spiritual Beggars
On Fire (Koch Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

The more things change, the more they remain-- well, the same. In this case, October 2002 is a prime example of sucking in the seventies; Where the strength of Sabbath and the early dawn of those sludge rocking, dope fiend, Duster types who milked the Birmingham baddies for every drop-- and then there were the forward thinking progressivists like UFO, B.O.C. and the Heep's of Uriah-- who added a heavy dose of Hammond to really grind it in good; guys like "Stormbringer" era Coverdale, who's bluesy, youthful vibe is absolutely all the fuck over this record, particularly in the voice of new singer JB, formerly of Grand Magus-- and easy to see why he brought his stiff whiskers and throaty twang to the mighty SB. The fit is a classic cork-popping twist on feel good jeans' Rock from cab to club to arena to laser light, to the Deepest shade of purple you're likely to find since the "Machine" went the way of the damned; "On Fire" is an all in one decade long feature of all yer fave hey day highlights. Guitarist Michael Amott, showing a somewhat crude and necessarily restrained form as he breaks from the breakneck pace of his successful Death campaigns, Arch Enemy, et al (but what an opening riff on "Street Fighting Saviours"!) drives the tunes that by comparison, are deeper, denser, and equally resourceful; so where lightning flashes give way to truncated chops, they're set above by harmonically sound surges of guitar and keys for that emerald over coal quality; Think of a meatier Deep Purple of the day, maybe more the Nazareth type. Spiritual Beggars are pleasantly away from the one dimensional trap-- fuck, up to now I thought Orange Goblin were one of the only few that got it, but these guys are larger scale, (Stoner? Doom?) that so many well-intended players fall into only to discover the pigeonhole allowed too little air for future expansion and exploration once the haze thinned down. "On Fire" is a derivation of every Heavy Rock band that was worth their weight in denim in the day, modeling on the best in Blues-backed campaigns past with an exciting sonic element of defiant hooks, catchy chorus and quickened motor skills wrapped in prime time production compliments of guys named Bengston, Amott, and Sneap. So Spiritual Beggars ain't about reinventing the wheel, but think more in terms of restoring that old classic Ford or Chevy-- and yeah, there's the obligatory Buick of the day in there somewhere-- maybe track nine, "Tall Trees," and "The Lunatic Fringe," which disappoints only because it's not the Red Rider cover! This one's more a "Planet Caravan" giving way to rising flames that blare their way through your brain and you're consumed until momentarily stunned by this shadowy figure off to your left-- Lee Dorian? Lasts for a few seconds anyway, then we're back to Coverdale's "Love Hunter" or if you will, your WS oldie of choice without the sexploitative lyric, which generally speaking, don't bring it home here. Can't say enough about this album; it's a reinvention of the '70s spirit that were as much fun to be a part of then as they are to make fun of now; "On Fire" is a hard rockin' blast from the past for a new generation of black lighters with a bellyful and a bowl.
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