Sunday, November 25, 2007

Review: Beggars Ball - 1321 (2007)

Beggars Ball [ MySpace ]
1321
(2007)
self-released

Combining two parts Southern Stoner Rock and one part Hollywood sleaze, Los Angeles rockers Beggars Ball have unleashed an intriguing concoction with their sophomore album 1321. Influenced heavily by bands such as Monster Magnet and Saliva, and to an only slightly lesser extent by Guns n' Roses and Sabbath, the music offered up by Beggars Ball is primarily bottom-tuned, groovy rock with an abundance of attitude.

After a very Doomy intro right out of Tony Iommi's best nightmare, the next five tracks run the gamut of Beggars Ball's sub-genre of choice. Guitarist and founder Eddie Brnabic features prominently on each track, delivering chunky riffs and notable leads. While not flashy, his solos fit comfortably within the context of each track and do very little to distract from the core sound. One could argue that the purpose of a guitar solo is to "steal the thunder" for a brief moment, and that unquestionably has its place in certain styles of metal, but Beggars Ball is no less impactful sticking with Eddie's style of play. Dropping Eddie's riffs to the sub-basement is bass player Luciano Ferrea. Joining the band after the release of their first album, Luciano's style fits in seamlessly as he slaps out some truly heavy lines. While the majority of the first few tracks are at the trudging pace typical of the genre, "Binge" earns a spot as my favorite due to its up-tempo drive and simple, memorable riff. Slightly reminiscent of AC/DC in style and lyrical content, the song also features one of Eddie's most florid - and brief - solos.

Fronting Beggars Ball is D.K. Revelle, who possesses not only a rough-around-the-edges vocal style perfect for the alcohol-and-narcotic inspired lyrics, but sports a look straight out of the Los Angeles sleaze rock scene of the late '80s. Whether with a raw-throated scream or a slight drawl dripping with attitude, Revelle personifies the raucous nature of the music. As this review is going online, however, I learned that the band has parted ways with him.

I mentioned earlier that the first five songs ran the gamut of Beggars Ball's sound. The next five tracks are acoustic versions of the first five, effectively making 1321 feel like two EPs compressed together to make a full-length. The acoustic versions are groovy, mellow, occasionally psychedelic, and quite fit for an evening of chillin' with your "buds". "Binge" still stands out as my favorite, even acoustically. Piano and a slightly Cajun vibe make this a real toe-tapper. Both the plugged and unplugged versions of the songs stand well on their own, but together on one album they result in too much of a directional shift.

Beggars Ball tip their hat to their Southern rock influences by way of a hidden cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man". Shinedown's version has obviously garnered more attention, but pales in comparison to what Beggars Ball have put forth. True to the original, sung with palpable emotion, and closed with Eddie's most prolific solo. Very much a highlight of the album.

For fans of Southern rock doused with Stoner Rock/Doom, 1321 is a solid album that I'm sure you will enjoy. Keep an eye out for Beggars Ball.



Track Listing
1 1321 1:49
2 Helluvaride 3:56
3 Binge 2:53
4 Burnout 3:53
5 Reject 3:53
6 Dragpipe 3:13
7 Helluvaride [acoustic] 4:22
8 Binge [acoustic] 3:44
9 Burnout [acoustic] 3:58
10 Reject [acoustic] 3:49
11 Dragpipe [acoustic] 3:43
12 Simple Man 6:52
Total Runtime 46:05



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