Stoner rock is just about the most simplistic style out there, and oftentimes it’s at its best when stripped down even further to its core elements – riffs, vocal hooks and fuck you attitude. This is the rudimentary recipe Greek power trio Beggars bring to their stoner attack on their fifth album, The Day I Lost My Head. Borrowing elements from Orange Goblin, Monster Magnet, and Kyuss, Beggars also inject a large dose of Mötörhead into the mix, creating a rowdy, RAWK hybrid with plenty of swagger and a few killer moments. But is it potent enough to make you lose your head too?
Beggars are a band that can hit home runs when they get their pitch, as they do on punchy opener “Book of Days.” It’s a righteous mix of groove, heaviness and hooks, with vocalist Yannis Passas sounding a whole lot like a young Lemmy as he rasps over some in-yer-fez riffs and fat grooves. This is biker bar rock done right and you’ll be left wondering why nobody smashed a beer mug over your dome by the song’s conclusion. An entire album of this stuff is exactly what I want for summer fun and festivities, and as the title track thuds into life, it seems that’s what I will be getting. It’s another simple but satisfying rocker where the riffs do most of the talking, but the vocals add just the right amount of bravado, bluster and bullying. The riffage has heft and reminds me a lot of the recent Freedom Hawk opus, which is a good thing.
Other killer cuts include the gloriously jammy rock of instrumental “Intersolar Traveller” and the laid back Kyuss meets Uncle Acid desert groove of “Medusa.” “Blind” is the most Mötörhead-y cut, sounding for all the world like a deconstructed and reconfigured version of their timeless classic “Overkill.” Later cut “Chief Commander 1945 – 2015” is an ode to the late great Lemmy, channeling the proper respect as well as the brash, hard rocking energy suitable for the occasion. The funky guitar harmonics are a great touch rounding out a nifty fist pumper.
As good as much of the album is, there are some weak points that bring things down a few pegs. “Game” has all the makings of another winner, reminding me of the material on Jason Newsted’s 2013 solo outing, but the lyrics and unsatisfying chorus undermine the otherwise solid music. “You Break Me” is worse, taking a riff that could’ve appeared on any early Black Sabbath album and hooking it to an annoying tune with awkward, amateurish vocal lines, making it the only track I feel the need to skip. With a bit more consistency in the writing, this thing would be a certified rock monster.
Yannis Passas is a solid vocalist with the near ideal voice for this kind of hard-edged rock/metal. His similarity to Lemmy lends a strong familiarity and gravitas to the material. His riff crafting is also admirable. Nearly every song locks into a fat lead and plunders it for all its worth, coming up just shy of beating it to death. His solos are jammy and loose without being indulgent and they fit the music like a glove. The trio is tight as hell, and the drumming by Petros Kotsidas is also especially noteworthy, thundering away with reckless urgency, locking into the grooves like a tick, and branching off with sweet fills and rolls whenever appropriate.
Beggars deliver 43 minutes of burly, upbeat stoner rock that would serve as a good soundtrack for any party or road trip. It’s good enough to send me hunting for the band’s back catalog, and I expect this to feature prominently in the Truck ov Steel for the coming months. Good times, bad attitudes and rough music within. Best served with cold beer, cheap bourbon and brass knuckles.