I had never heard of anything from four piece Blues based Rock band Zodiac prior to reviewing this album. Zodiac hail from Munster, Germany and this will be their third album release, with their previous album “A Hiding Place” having only been released last year. I was looking forward to reviewing this album after reading in the bands bio being “Rooted in blues, enriched by elements from classic and hard rock but never wallowing in bygones“. This sounded like my cup of tea and I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised
I don’t like to start with a negative, but it is the only real negative of this album for me. The album opens up with a melodic musical intro “Intro Who I Am” in which really does not set you up for the rest of the tracks that follow at all. It is a slow opener that does sound like some background shopping channel music, or music you would hear when being put on hold over the telephone. At the same time it is very relaxed and chilling but one track I think was not necessary to include in the album. Second track “Swinging On The Run” would have been a better choice to begin proceedings. This is a mid tempo rocker, with a nice tight groove and blues elements during the lengthy guitar solo and instrumental which closes out the track.
Title track “Sonic Child” starts with strong vocals from Nick Van Delft. “Sonic Child” has this infectious classic blues rock groove in a similar vein to the likes of ZZ Top, with nice bass sounds coming from Ruben Claro, keeping everything tight in the rhythm section with Janosch Rathmer on drums. The song is short but sweet. “Holding On” has a faster tempo, and mixes Hard Rock with Classic Rock majestically, softening its tone but however still manages to maintain that edgier feeling. The bass and drums are prominent with some fine solo guitar work, both guitars working really well together here.
“Sad Song” is the first real ballad on offer, and is sublime acoustic guitar working along with some nice slide guitar and great vocal harmonies. It is at this point you get a sense of how great and strong Van Delft’s vocals are. There is a sense of fragility in the gritty, gravely sounds that I hear, yet it is still very rich sounding. You can really feel the emotion and Van Delft’s voice kind of reminds me of a young Chris Rea!
“Out of the City” picks up the tempo again with a pacy, funky rocking groove, followed by another mid tempo rocking song “Penny and a Dead Horse”. This starts off slow with simple but effective slide guitar and the vocals again demonstrate Van Delft’s warm, rich, deep gravely tones. This is as whiskey soaked blues as you can get, with a Southern Rock vibe, and sounds superb. The tempo picks up after the first verses and chorus, with some crashing tribal drum sounds and fantastic lead guitar riffs and effects. Seemingly about a relationship break up where one half is left with nothing, the lyrics are simple but precise and effective. It is one of the highlights of the album for me.
Another main highlight is “Rock Bottom Blues”. This starts off with some keyboard and blues guitar tones which reminds me of Pink Floyd back in their hey day. The sultry richness in van Delft’s vocals add to the bluesy atmosphere, with guitar playing that the late Gary Moore would have been proud of in this 9 minute plus epic, which picks up pace towards the end.
The low key mood continues with mid tempo blues rocker “Just Music”, before we get to what’s probably the heaviest track on the album. “Not Fragile” is a gritty blues rocker with superb guitar tones and effects used through the long instrumental section, backed up with infectious funky grooving bass from Claro. The drumming again is superb through this one. The album finishes with a funky heavier toned classic rock number “Shine”. Think Thin Lizzy crossed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
Over the past few years there have been some great bands I have heard who keep that rock, blues and soul spirit alive. Bands like Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement and The Graveltones are a few bands who spring to mind. Having listened to Zodiac for the first time, their latest album “Sonic Youth” makes me think this band also has what it takes to be on a similar level and should continue to do great things. I like the fact they bring some different influences and styles into the blues based classic rock that is dominant throughout this album. The musicianship is top notch and tight, with killer guitar all the way through, which effortlessly accompany the very strong and gravely rich vocal tones from Nick Van Delft. “Sonic Youth” is an album that may not grab your attention in the first listen, but it will quickly grow on you!
1. Intro Who I Am
2. Swinging On The Run
3. Sonic Child
4. Holding On
5. Sad Song
6. Out Of The City
7. A Penny And A Dead Horse
8. Good Times
9. Rock Bottom Blues
10. Just Music
11. Not Fragile
“Sonic Child” is available through Napalm Records on 19/09/14 in Germany/Austria/Switzerland, 24/09/14 in Norway/Sweden, 26/09/14 in Finland/Benelux, and 29/09/14 in the UK and rest of Europe.
Nick Van Delft – Vocals/Guitar
Stephan Gall – Guitar
Ruben Claro – Bass
Janosch Rathmer – Drums