Arguably better known as chief axe-wielder for defiantly brutal metal crew Arch Enemy (and, for a time, a member of the UK’s own Carcass), Michael Amott has been celebrating his love of 70s hard rock with Spiritual Beggars for more than 20 years now.
What’s remarkable about these reissues is how fresh and fiery they remain. Debut Another Way To Shine (7⁄10) injected technicality and compositional verve into the stoner rock movement of the mid-90s, Amott’s love of Frank Marino and Michael Schenker informing the band’s Sabbathian tirades.
But it was 1998’s MantraIII (8⁄10) that alerted bong-carrying metalheads to the Beggars’ true soulful power, with songs like Monster Astronauts and Sad Queen Boogie aping the thunderous momentum of prime Purple while still packing a jarring, metallic punch.
The band’s masterpiece arrived in 2000: Ad Astra (9⁄10) is a near-perfect album that bulges with ageless anthems and sounds absolutely fucking huge. If there’s a better retro hard rock song than Wonderful World, we’d like to hear it.
2002’s On Fire (7⁄10) saw much-loved vocalist Spice replaced by ‘JB’ Christoffersson of fellow Swedes Grand Magus; a logical swap but one that didn’t reap its greatest rewards until the band’s Demons album three years later, despite a couple of gems in the shape of Street Fighting Saviours and Killing Time.
If much of the retro rock swarm strikes you as lazy and insipid, you need these heavy, heartfelt Beggars in your life./o:p