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Spiritual Beggars: Earth Blues

Muscular Scando Sabbing in excelsis.

While not a wholesale return to the fuzzy tones and retrogressive flair of earlier works like Mantra III and Another Way To Shine, Earth Blues is a grittier affair than the Beggars’ 2010 album Return To Zero and it bulges with 70s proto-metal trimmings.

From the insouciant thud of Ludwig Witt’s drums and Per Wiberg’s rippling Hammond flourishes to founder member Michael Amott’s pointedly authentic blues-rock riffing, this is an impassioned love letter to the era of Purple and Sabbath. In fact, Turn The Tide’s opening riff is a dead spit for the Sabs’ Supernaut, but somehow the Beggars have wrung fresh impetus from such hallowed source material.

Apollo Papathanasio has the perfect voice for this kind of rambunctious revisionism: both soulful and strident, he brings pathos to Sweet Magic Pain’s Heep-esque mid-section, and testicular fortitude to the tumultuous, funky bluster of One Man’s Curse. Right now, no one does this stuff better.