After a very gruesome touring schedule with his main band Arch Enemy and the infamous Carcass reunion, Michael Amott finally had some time to work on new material for Spiritual Beggars. This is his fun band where he can spread his love for seventies rock bands such as Rainbow, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. To cut a long story short, the band are back with their seventh full length, entitled Return To Zero.
I don’t know whether the title hints to any approach to get back to basics, because musically speaking this album goes further where On Fire (2002) and Demons (2005) left off. Michael Amott and Co take the listener on a twelve song nostalgic trip inspired by classic Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.
Most songs are fairly straightforward in nature. They’re built around a catchy riff or a memorable hook, supported by the ever present Hammond organ play by Per Wiberg (Opeth). The songs themselves are quite memorable as well, with The Chaos Of Rebirth, We Are Free, Star Born and Lost In Yesterday being the best examples of that.
Return To Zero also marks the debut of singer Apollo and he is somewhat the weakest link on this album. He’s a fine singer, but his vocals miss the soul and timbre which made the vocals by Spice and JB so powerful.
The production of Return To Zero is clear and somewhat vintage sounding, adding to the whole stoner/seventies vibe of the album.
Spiritual Beggars certainly deliver on Return To Zero. The songwriting is tight and the whole seventies vibe is present as well. It’s just the vocals that put me off somehow. Besides that, this is a very solid effort.
written by Raymond Westland