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Spiritual Beggars - 'Return To Zero' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a9/96/10/652_spiritualbeggarsreturntozero_1285702150.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 28, 2010    
 
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Not as strong as 'Demons', but it's not far behind and that's good enough for me.

Have you ever liked someone's side project a lot more than their main band? Of course you have, and the problem with that is that because it doesn’t pay the bills their output is usually sporadic at best. Swedish guitarist Michael Amott's releases with Spiritual Beggars were originally quite frequent when he first left Carcass to form the band in 1993, but the recent success of Arch Enemy has put them on the backburner and ‘Return To Zero’ follows on five years after their last album, ‘Demons’. Another problem is that it’s hard to keep musicians on board when you’re not doing anything so this album was made without singer Janne ‘JB’ Christoffersson, but the good news is that the role has been filled by Firewind’s Apollo Papathanasio.

Commonly referred to as ‘stoner rock’; a description I hate as it sounds too loose for what SB do, the band have a more classic rock sound to my ears, particularly due to the killer Hammond and piano of Opeth’s Par Winberg. After a short instrumental intro ‘Lost In Yesterday’ actually gets the album off to a slow start on a doomy vibe with a downtuned Zakk Wylde-style riff, and to be honest it isn’t one of my favourites. Thankfully things pick up with the cool melodies and superb bass lines (courtesy of fellow Arch Enemy member Sharlee D’Angelo) of ‘Star Born’. This album is nothing if not varied and ‘The Chaos Of Rebirth’ has tempo changes and some tasty guitar and organ and kicks off a lengthy run of great tracks like the simple ‘We Are Free’ and the laid back ‘Spirit Of The Wind’, whilst ‘Coming Home’, ‘Concrete Horizon’ and ‘A New Dawn Rising’ are all tuneful rock songs with Apollo on fine form and Amott peeling off a series of nice old school riffs and solos.

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In context of the melody on this album the angry riffs of ‘Dead Weight’ seem quite an oddity, especially coming directly after ‘Believe In Me’ with its bluesy vibe and honk-tonk piano, but the best is saved for last as the piano led ballad ‘The Road Less Travelled’ brings the disc to a classy end. I honestly don’t think ‘Return To Zero’ is as strong as ‘Demons’, but it’s not far behind and that’s good enough for me.

Phil Ashcroft

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