Released: 2009, Scarlet Records
Has it really been nine years since the Spiritual Beggars released AD ASTRA? Of course, other than the awesome riffs laid down by Michael Amott, the highlight of that album was the charismatic vocal performance by Spice. Unfortunately he split with the Beggars following that album and has since been floating around the metal landscape with highly regarded stoners The Mushroom River Band (R.I.P.) and the less loved thrash project Kayser.
Given that this is Spice we’re talking about, I immediately assumed that SHAVE YOUR FEAR would be more of the groove-ridden stoner metal that he’s known for. Sure enough, one quick listen to instrumental opener “The Lure” and the following “The Womb” confirms that this is stoner metal through and through. The riffs in “The Womb” are appropriately fiery, Spice sounds in fine form, and everything immediately works.
Then something happens – the songs fade in quality, badly (!), as the album goes on. The riffs become rehashes of other stoner metal bands, the lyrics begin to rely on worn clichés, and even Spice starts sounding uninspired. I can’t even put my finger on it, but from “No One Told” right through to the end the prevailing feeling is boredom. It’s painfully obvious that the band is just going through the motions, which is the kiss of death for any genre. And although there isn’t anything technically wrong with any of the songs on this album, nothing jumps out as required listening either…it’s just so average.
I’m sad to say that SHAVE YOUR FEAR does not come close to measuring up to Spice’s respected past. At this point mediocrity is just not acceptable.