Review: Spiritual BeggarsSunrise to Sundown

“There’s a better road ahead, so c’mon!”

Just three years ago, Spiritual Beggars was a hibernating beast waiting for its time to come. Dripping poisonous fumes from its multi-colored mouth, the band re-awakened and conjured new psychedelic and melodic sounds with Sunrise to Sundown, released this year.

BandPhotoSpiritualBeggarsToday the band, commanded by the prolific Michael Amott, creates fine slices of carefully crafted songs with traditional analog production and uncompromising retro attitude. But they are retro in attitude only, because Sunrise to Sundown is a completely contemporary album with original additions to the band’s catalogue. In their latest product, the warm artwork of Costin Chioureanu provides a high fidelity comparison to the overall feelings of the music: sometimes touching the borders of hard rocking adrenaline with spaced song structures or dealing with touching subjects in slow segments of vulnerable textures.

In comparison to the previous Beggars records, Per Wilberg’s (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) organs and keyboard magic are high in the mix, enveloping the other instruments like an ever-expansive forest. The traditional Hammond organ covers the spaces of the one-dimensional strings section, serving as a counterpart for the riffing or even accompanying the rhythm at the same time, similar to Jon Lord or Ray Manzarek’s legendary work. Wilberg’s role in Sunrise to Sundown is probably a high point in his career, showing the versatility of a musician trusting his instruments in an often formulaic genre and pushing himself to move the solid foundation of the band.

“Sunrise to Sundown,” “Diamond Under Pressure,” “Hard Road,” “Still Hunter,” and “You’ve Been Fooled” may be the safest singles the band has released, but you still cannot deny the hard-rocking swagger they have beneath the verses and the uplifting choruses. I can assure to you that Apollo Papathanasio’s (ex-Firewind, ex-Evil Masquerade) vocals are in their prime; the guy can croon, soft spoken between the words, or scream out his lungs without losing key or momentum. Apollo can go from a David Coverdale blues-y beat to a powerful operatic Dio powerhouse scream; his style suits the music in a positive manner, and he uses his voice with passion to enhance the songs and each concept behind them.

Aside from the spectacular vocal department display, Michael Amott’s (Arch Enemy, ex-Carcass, ex-Carnage) infectious riffs are still the blood that drives the Beggars beast’s rampant periods of activity, and the spot-on vibrant soloing is still the roaring menace they employ to express their traditional sound in the bustling crowds. “What Doesn’t Kill You” and “Dark Light Child” are outlier tracks in which the band goes pedal-to-the-metal with Papathanasio’s vocals in tandem with Amott’s exquisite riffs and solos, provided by his majestic, colorful middle range usage of pedals. Steffan Karlsson’s production leaves space for the band to have fun with, and Michael and his boys clearly took advantage of the crystal clear mixing to play with the dynamics.

Casting aside the immediate punches in Sunrise to Sundown, the slower songs are the ones that take more time to get used to but are probably more rewarding. The band remembers the sentiments of the first Black Sabbath era and their own first records, directed towards more psychedelic segments, with cuts like “No Man’s Land,” which sports a beautiful Beatles-esque interlude; “I Turn to Stone,” their stoner rock soundtrack to hell; “Lonely Freedom,” a killer groove jam provided by a giant Sharlee D’Angelo bass (Arch Enemy, ex-Mercyful Fate); or the marvelous “Southern Star,” analogous to their other closing epics “Mantra” (From Ad Astra) or “Lonely Road” (From Earth Blues). All these songs explode in different spheres of their personal palette and the melodic metal paradigms with adventurous might.

Ludwig Witt’s (Firebird, Grand Magus) drumming is tribal and intense, conjuring the perfect mixing of his instrument recordings and developing his own trademark; aided by Sharlee mountain moving range in the bass, I can safely assure the win of a rhythmic section cemented with professionalism and fury.

Of course the album is not without flaws. Previous records like Earth Blues and On Fire have tracks that can be compared extensively with some of those presented in Sunrise to Sundown. For fans like me, this is not a problem; but the rehashing of some rhythmic marks or some chord progression can tap some similarities to some with their preceding hits like “Beneath the Skin,” “Dreamer” or “Wise as a Serpent,” for example.

On the other side, if you enjoy the tiny bits of details the band left behind on the linear path of the record, you will definitely enjoy this one and be like me, listening to this to ease my need for melodies. Push aside the blogosphere;s idle comparisons to Deep Purple or Rainbow; this record will provide numerous entrances to the band’s already killer live set-lists.

To finish my lines, in an objective moment of madness (and to back up Dubs’ opinion towards this release), this deserves 4 flaming toilets out of 5 because of the slick presentation, but, in my narrow-minded perspective, this is right now my favorite release of the year.


Sunrise to Sundown is out via InsideOut Music and is also available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon. A 7″ of two covers is also out from the German label H42 Records; check it out, because the Mountain cover rules. You can find Spiritual Beggars on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you ever contact with the band (or with Michael Amott) tell him that his elfic fan from the Venezuelan Toilet ov Hell division says hello!

Cover art made by Costin Chioraneu. Photo: VIA.

  • Lacertilian

    Cool review Link, your love of Michael Amott has no bounds!
    Strong “My Woman From Tokyo” vibes on that first linked track, that key change in the solo is rad as fuck too.

  • JWEG

    A Link Review is, for sure, a good way to end the blog day on a high note.

    The ‘import’ version of the album is unbelievably low-priced on Amazon Canada (it’s even less than non-imports of pop junk), so I should definitely add that to my next binge-purchase list.

    • Thanks for the kind words, man!

      The band recently reissued their old albums through Music For Nations, I don’t know if they pressed other things than vinyls. But, at least is very cool that this new record is pretty cheap!

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Cool review Lonk, but for me this was one of Spiritual Beggars’ lesser oned. Though I got past the”bad DP pastische”- feel I got from the single, the album just wasn’t much better.
    I think Mikey Mike pushes himself much too hard with his projects, requiring himself to release something all the time.

    • Thanks for the thumbs up and the opinion sharing, Beargod. I can feel you, my best friend didn’t liked the singles either, but I think the work is better in the slower and ‘irregular’ songs. The two riffy-driven ones are pretty cool too! “What Doesn’t Kill You” is becoming a personal favorite.

      I also can understand what you think about Mike’s pushing. I felt it with Arch Enemy in all these final years :/

  • Joaquin Stick

    Very comprehensive review Link, excellent job. This definitely has a no-fucks-given vibe to it. They know the sound they are trying to achieve and are kicking its ass.

    • Thanks, man! Hope you find it and enjoy it! Is available in Spotify 😉

      • Joaquin Stick

        Haha thanks for looking out for me 🙂

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Sounds like it’s right up the Janitor’s alley

  • Eliza

    I like that this kind of retro sounding style, but the fact that band add quite a lot of personality to their music makes it really stand out. Thanks for reminding me to check this out. Good review!

    • If you want to, I can write my never-finished The Porcelain Throne version of Spiritual Beggars discography. I know Joaquín Palitos can back me up with that 😉

      • Eliza

        Yes, if you can, please do that!

  • I saw Ammot and knew this was a Link review.

    • You’re right, I’m an open book!!

      • We are all so transparent here Link.

        • Rob M

          Not me…Im deep like a stormy sea…

          …or some other kind of poetic bullshit

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            I’m like a Flint drain pipe.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            A Cicero sewer under a Steak N’ Egger?

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Lol, that’d definitely be just as bad! Or the shared makeshift bathroom in a Lower Wacker shantytown during a heatwave.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            ewww haha

  • great review Link! i found the whole thing streaming on YouTube, but it’s in mono (or some un-listenable shit). good music though. i guess the band is too good for Bandcamp.

  • Waynecro

    Nice writing, Link!

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    There’s some major league duck facing going on with that guy on the left.

    Great review and article, as usual, Link!

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I’ll listen to this soon. I’m on an Elvis binge at the moment.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Careful, man, you know what happened the last time Elvis and a toilet were in the same place!

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        That is a good point.

      • more beer

        But you don’t get fat dead bloated Elvis without the assortment of pills.

        • mmmmm and donuts

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          And a clenched fist full of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and his other hand clenching his chest.

          • more beer

            Apparently he isn’t dead.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            They have him confused with Abe Vigoda.

          • more beer

            The FBI knows the difference between Elvis and Abe Vigoda. They are not digging up Abe. Plus Elvis is bring just what the world needs. Another silly religion.

    • crazy to think you’d post a comment without somehow diverting to another band…


    Nice write up Link! I’m digging this!

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls
  • Óðinn

    Thanks Link.

  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Dagon

    This sounds like cold beers and a gust of wind on a very hot day.

    • Can I share a cold beer and a gust of wind on a very hot day with you while jamming this record?