Beggar – Compelled to Repeat Review

Fear always strikes me when a band has a common English word as their name. Finding information is usually a bitch in these cases. But lo and behold, Beggar defy the odds by apparently being the only one sporting this particular moniker, even though there are 10 different bands called Nyarlathotep. Funny how that works. Beggar have been around for 8 years and released a string of EP’s in that time, but with Compelled to Repeat they’ve finally put on their big boy pants and cranked out a proper full-length debut. Have they had enough practice yet, or does it merely compel you to turn it off?

In these uncertain times, you might want something calming and soothing, suave and assuring. Tough luck. Beggar play sludge encrusted with filth, blood and thunder. Yes, that Mastodon reference was on purpose, as the riffs betray clear influence from the US sludge giants. However, Beggar are far from monolithic in their sound. They incorporate psychedelic influences, drawing from hazy Kyuss desert rock, particularly when it’s solo time. But their most effective weapon is the gnarly, grimy screams and furious, pummeling death-influenced attacks that recall a less ambitious 1914 on occasion. Scorching opener “Blood Moon” and the short, nasty “Tenantless the Graves” attest to how well Beggar control that aspect of their sound, owing in large part to vocalist Charlie Davis who has a particularly rabid wolverine taking up permanent residence in his vocals chords.

Still, it’s quite a range of influences to draw from, and the scales seem occasionally hard to balance for the quartet. After the spectacular opener, things take a bit of a dip, with sophomore track “Anaesthete” overtly dependent on a vague desert riff that doesn’t quite flow, and single “Black Cloud” never quite as memorable as it wants to be. While the stoner influences work well for the solos, injecting a welcome bit of melodicism into the harsh vocals and distorted riffs, it doesn’t do quite as well outside these moments. Whereas mellower moments often help contrast against harsher passages to make both stand out more, it doesn’t really work as such here, instead taking some of the energy out of the tracks.

Overall though, this is far from a bad album, despite these shortcomings. When the band lets loose, they really, really let loose, with mixtures of biting screams and growls, snappy riffs, good hooks, and skillful performances on the rhythm side of the tracks. The songwriting is solid and the album is paced well, with the only superfluous material a 24 second throwaway interlude. In addition, the production is more than sufficient. The guitar has nice crunch and the mix is decent, though the drums sound a bit more hollow and more present than ideal. Though the title track which closes the album is not as impressive as most of its preceding material, there is more than enough strong material to compel me to repeat it.

Beggar have been around a while for a band that only now releases their debut, and both their experience as performers and their greenness at writing and recording a full-length experience can be heard on Compelled to Repeat. They can’t quite manage to keep the tension high at all times, and the more mellow material is notably less potent than the aggressive, rabid assaults. But in the balance, Beggar show a lot of promise, pulling together quite a wide array of textures and making it a coherent whole that doesn’t waste time unnecessarily. These guys are worth keeping an eye on if you like your sludge nasty, filthy and diverse.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: APF Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 3rd, 2020

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