Spiritual Beggars

Ad Astra

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More colorful and evolved songs like "Sedated" typify the dynamic but still quite heavy sound of Spiritual Beggars' third release, Ad Astra. The band had previously stuck to a contemporary stoner palette somewhere between the thundering Kyuss and chaotic Corrosion of Conformity, but everything from the Doors ("Per Aspera Ad Astra") to Deep Purple ("Wonderful World" and others) gets folded into the retro metal mix on this release. Christian "Spice" Sjöstrand's more aggressive vocal work clears up any confusion about the group's modernity, but relevance really isn't an issue with music this crushing (yet listenable). Just like the first two Spiritual Beggars records, Ad Astra's opener, "Left Brain Ambassadors," is a hard rock juggernaut, and its only fault is the setting of a musical standard that is practically impossible to maintain through the following 13 tracks. The band almost pulls it off with cunning takes on '70s elders like Kiss on the Love Gun-influenced "Save Your Soul" and during more traditional Kyuss references like "On Dark Rivers." If it weren't for the out of place ballad "It's Over," Ad Astra would bake like a sun dancer in the heat of stoner rock perfection.

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