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Album Reviews : Spiritual Beggers – Return to Zero

By on December 18, 2010

Despite the term ‘supergroup’ being a fairly overused term these days, it’s hard not to have the word cross your mind when you see Spiritual Beggars line up. Formed by guitarist Michael Amott after his departure from Carcass in the mid-90’s (he also formed Arch Enemy not long after), Spiritual Beggars was a means from the axeman to express his love of classic rock, stoner and doom metal all in one project. With Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio making his album debut, and being backed by keyboardist Per Wiberg (Opeth), drummer Ludwig Witt (Firebird) and Amott’s Arch Enemy band mate Sharlee D’Angelo on bass, it’s obvious that Spiritual Beggars has a pretty damn impressive calibre of musicians lined up for their newest album Return to Zero.

“Lost in Yesterday” is an awesome way to start the album, with a crushing riff and Papathanasio’s very 70’s-rock sounding voice leading the charge, before a mellow organ middle section gives way to an archetypal Amott guitar solo. Up-tempo rocker “Star Born” is a great follower, with Witt’s swinging beat keeping the tune on edge, and a key changing main riff adding layers of taste and intelligence. The fake crowd sounds and lyrics in “We Are Free” are pretty lame, but a cracking bridge section riff and groove redeems the track tenfold. With a dirty and raw sound, the under polished mix works perfectly for the band, with a nice big, live drum sound showing off how over-produced some modern metal albums really are.

The sheer magnitude of monster riffs across the album is outstanding, with “The Chaos of Rebirth”, “Concrete of Horizon” and “Dead Weight” built upon hefty slabs of guitar. Meanwhile the laid back, space jam of “Spirit of the Wild” is a nice mid-album detour, while the biggest surprise on the album belongs to the closing “A Road Less Travelled”, which is essentially an Elton John styled piano ballad, and is an elegant way to finish the album.

“Return To Zero” is just a fantastic album, to simply put it. The songs will no doubt appeal to fans of the band members full time gigs, but will obviously appeal to a elder generation of hard rock fans, as the tunes are enriched in the classic heavy sounds of the 70’s and 80’s – but without ever feeling tired, recycled or basically clichéd. A top release from a classy group. 8.5/10

Band: Spiritual Beggars
Album: Return to Zero
Year: 2010
Genre: Classic Rock/Metal
Origin: Sweden
Label: Inside Out

Track listing:

1. Return To Zero (intro)
2. Lost In Yesterday
3. Star Born <- Reviewers Choice
4. The Chaos Of Rebirth
5. We Are Free
6. Spirit Of The Wind
7. Coming Home
8. Concrete Horizon
9. A New Dawn Rising
10. Believe In Me
11. Dead Weight
12. The Road Less Travelled


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.