Exciting return from one of Germany's finest rock exports...
Zodiac have unleashed another stomping rocker of an album with Grain Of Soul, their fourth full length. The German rockers are experts at hard driving dirty bluesy heavy rock, not in the Black Crowes kinda way but more in the Four Horsemen, Raging Slab or The Almighty mould (point of fact the title track, and possibly the best track on the album, sounds like an Almighty/AiC mash up without any of the Seattle bullshit).
With Arne Neurand (Guano Apes, Subway To Sally, Revolverhead, The Intersphere) at the controls Zodiac have produced another slab of brilliant fist in the air hard rock. Also worth noting is that that Grammy Award winner Jean-Pierre Chalbos (Gojira, Kavinsky) mastered the album, so sonically you know you’re in safe hands. The band is as tight as ever with bass player Ruben Claro locking into a f’kin solid groove throughout , he and drummer Janosh Rathmer ensure the album pelts along at a gloriously rockin’ pace.
Album highlights include the excellent Rebirth By Fire, sporting a great groove that sets the tone for the album in both sound and feel. Vocalist Nick Van Delft has improved his vocals with each album and channels Chris Cornell in the chorus of the opener, he also offers a fantastic little lead break – that would be easier to appreciate if you weren’t furiously head banging to the rhythm under the solo. Animal kicks straight into a Lizzyesque riff before breaking down into a smooth groovy sexy swagger that perfectly fits the theme of the song, we all become animals when driven by our desires, everything becomes about base instinct.
Crow, with its twangy intro is the big open desert sound of Sky Valley inspired stoner interset with shotgun crashes of guitar and cymbals, lush keyboards handled beautifully by Claro that reinforce the feeling of open skies and vast plains. Like The Sun, Sinner and Grain of Soul are all excellent choices to close out the album, they’re three of the harder rocking songs on the album and make you want to hit play and listen to the whole thing again.
I do miss the fact there’s no ‘epics’ (the longest track is 5:44) like on the previous three albums (the excellent Coming Home from the 2012 debut, A Bit Of Devil, Rock Bottom Blues off 2014’s Sonic Child and their killer (no pun intended) cover of Neil Young‘s Cortez The Killer from 2013’s A Hiding Place ).
One of the reasons I love Zodiac is they have a similar pub rock vibe to some of those great iconic Aussie bands that I grew up with. It’s honest, heavy, groovy, thumping and played by blokes that are wanting nothing more than to give you the time of your life. I’ve asked the band a couple of times if an Aussie tour is in the plans, and have had a response somewhat in the positive so all you Aussie fans of good time heavy rock n roll with swagger n grunt let the boys know they wouldn’t be wasting their time hitting our shores. Can’t help but think these guys teaming up with Canberra’s Tonk for an Aussie tour would be something special.
If you love your rock hard, your groove dirty, your blues sexy and your stone cruisy then this album is for you!
Grain of Soul is released through Napalm Records on July 29th