SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - AD ASTRA - MUSIC FOR NATIONS
Instead of encountering a band hooked on Black Sabbath, what we have here is a band indeed with the obvious Cathedral, Sabbath et al influences; but equal parts Deep Purple and other Hammond bands from the 1970's. The heavier moments are mixed with more up tempo rocky instances and acid rock-laced interludes. It's all a lot of fun if you are in the right frame of mind. But what strikes me the most is the dominant role of Mike Amott, who not only is at the verge of blurring any distinction between his playing here with his performance with Arch Enemy, but also is the sole stand out in Spiritual Beggars. The entire ensemble does contribute and certainly do so with some talent, yet it's Amott's performance and only Amott's performance which shines and stands out. Ok for what it is really. - Ali "The Metallian"
SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - ON FIRE - MUSIC FOR NATIONS/KOCH
Spiritual Beggars, the other band of Arch Enemy's Michael Amott, is back with a new album featuring a revised line-up. The cover is in keeping with the theme established on the previous albums, thus implying that a drastic change should not be expected even given the presence of a new front man within the group. With On Fire the group has made an album whose title is the opposite of what it implies. The group, with On Fire, has issued an album that simply doesn't take any risks. By staying so close to the conventions and parametres expected of the genre, the acid rock band fails to ignite the fire under the listener. This is specially odd for an album which kicks off with the sound of tribal drums and a wailing siren! Furthermore the rhythm guitars are almost missing resulting in an album with little crunch. Emphasis is, therefore, placed on the organs, leads, and a so-so vocal performance from new singer JB who compared to the departed Spice comes across as a little more mellow and a little less rough. JB, of course, still makes a fair imitation of your favourite 70's singers - something that has been perfected by Lee Dorian in Cathedral. Overall the album is rather middle-of-the-road and stylistically more Mountain and less Black Sabbath - Ali "The Metallian"