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Zoahr - Off Axis

Off Axis
by Mike McMahan at 31 December 2019, 10:17 PM

On first listening to ZOAHR, a German three piece formed in 2017, I felt a bit refreshed by a newer band paying homage to obvious influences from the Sixties and Seventies-era Blues Rock bands. The guitar work throughout bears an amazing resemblance to that of Jimi Hendrix, primarily around the BAND OF GYPSIES days; and, at times, showing many similarities to both Robin Trower and JON BUTCHER AXIS.

Jessie Schmidt, guitarist and vocalist, has obviously honed his chops over the years; and I have no issue with him showing off that influence and hard work.

From the first track, a two minute and twenty second instrumental called “Interstate ‘68”, this record drives with that same feel. Heavy, pounding bottom end and that multi-phased, over-driven guitar sound, made so famous by Hendrix and the like back in the late Sixties, abounds. It abounds, however, up until the point that it feels almost tedious.

There are a few moments of absolute brilliance here. “Stamina” is a fantastic track, full of great guitar work and some really nice changes in the chorus. Some nice instrumental breaks help it out and give the cut an almost modern Jam Band feel. “Vultures” is another example of fine musicianship. I feel that this band excels when Schmidt steps back from the microphone and they just flow musically.

There are other moments, such as “Pendulum” and “Future Primitive”, the latter of which bears resemblance to Hardcore Punk, where I could do without the vocal at all. I’m certain that Schmidt has a good range and is very talented vocally, as evidenced in the aforementioned “Stamina”, but that goes away here. I’m not certain if it is in the production on these particular songs, or if they were put together to sound as muddied and garbled as they do at times.

I did not hate this record. I feel like this band has a load of potential, as all three have obviously worked very hard on their individual craft. I would, however, like to hear them with a more solid production team around them. I would also absolutely LOVE to hear Jessie Schmidt come into his own identity as a guitarist. This particular piece, although faulty in spots, shows that potential well enough to recommend it with hesitation.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Interstate ‘68
2. Fast Lane
3. Pendulum
4. Stamina
5. Future Primitive
6. Vultures
7. Talisman
8. Escapist
9. Doomina
Thorston Winkler - Bass
Phillipp Dahler - Drums
Jessie Schmidt - Guitar and Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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