Spiritual Beggars – Demons

Spiritual Beggars – Demons – 5/5
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What better way to kick off this next special than with an album I’ve been praising since I heard it over a year ago. If there can be one album to define ‘Stoner Rock Perfection,’ this is the all-star line-up that provided it, and I really do mean all-star here. From the familiar guitar tone of Amott (Carcass, Arch Enemy) performing better than I’d have believed him possible, the soaring vocals of “JB” Christofferson (Grand Magus) and the impeccable bass work of D’Angello (Mercyful Fate, Witchery, Arch Enemy) forming the core of three, they are further joined by the keyboardist known for his work with Opeth, and the current drummer for black metal band “Shining.”

The biggest shock of this album comes from the bass work, which is far from pushed back in this mix. There is no rhythm guitar plodding here, for the bass is the rhythm guitarist here, providing a deep bass infused in groove that puts many guitarists to shame, no simplistic chords in sight, time and time again he proves his talent (even providing his own bass solos). Around this comes the work of Amott, not dominating over the bass, instead adding another layer to work in unison with the bass, it’s the frequent solos that he proves his might. Whilst distinct in his own particular style, they are worked to feel integral to the track, following the flow with gusto through slow emotional passages and shredded work he performs beyond what I could have expected.

Not to undermine the keyboards or drums in this line-up, whilst both feel perhaps behind the rest of the instrumentation, neither are performed poorly. Despite all too frequently being unheard in the mix, the keyboards can rally together a solo perfectly playing off against the guitars, as well as short interludes. The drumming is competent and creative, ready to rain a fiery rain of beats to suit the mood of the piece, be it gentle or all out insanity. Vocals providing a finalé to this line-up, he once again performs superbly, lending an often more delicate and softer touch than his work with “Magus,” instantly capable of drawing focus with a charisma seeping out of each word sung, still able to belt out those powerful notes with the best of them.

Every member, despite being better known for other projects, have come together and formed a super-group capable of working together as though they had known each other all their lives. Never over-playing their use solos, providing multiple layers whilst retaining a head-banging rhythm with more little fills and tricks up their sleeve than you could imagine, this is a band without a bad album to their name, and just keep on improving.

Highlights: Throwing You Life Away, One Man Army, Treading Water