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Zodiac – Road Tapes Vol.1

Road Tapes Vol.1
by Matt Willis at 27 May 2015, 10:36 AM

ZODIAC, hailing from Munster in Germany bring you their new CD “Road Tapes Vol. 1”, a compilation of live tracks taken from their recent live shows. Mixing a blend of Indie Rock with a bit of a 70’s sound, creating a very unique landscape for the listener.

“Swinging on The Run” opens the proceedings with a very THIN LIZZY type sound, very fast paced verses combined with a very straight forward chorus, and there is definitely a bit of Phil Lynott in singer Nick’s voice. Very raspy yet powerful but able to change tone and direction without compromising the sound of the song.

“Free” is a very Bluesy-based track, with a lovely Bluesy riff over a Hard Rocking rhythm section giving the track a solid downbeat, before singer Nick Van Delft vocals come in with a swagger. This song has a hint of Led Zeppelin in it, with Nick almost sounding like Robert Plant in the choruses. The guitars are heavily distorted but never throw the rest of the mix. The bassline is solid and grooves nicely. A very solid number.

“Holding On” is a great frenetic Rock number, which at times sounds like early DEEP PURPLE, with a very solid beat and high mixed guitars, along with a solid rhythm section behind, and a very Bluesy type solo, one even Ritchie Blackmore would be happy with. There’s definitely that influence here.

“Cortez The Killer” is a very mid tempo song, and again has a very blues feel to the song. There is no doubt that they incorporate that into their sound. The song opens with a lovely guitar rhythm, before a brilliant lead guitar line brings the song in, with a very steady straight forward beat behind it. Again Nick Van Delft shows his brilliant range of vocals this time showing the more soulful and emotive side of them, with plenty of power behind it. It’s a very well crafted number and again shows the band’s prowess at combining precision and power with emotion.

“A Bit Of A Devil” is another song that DEEP PURPLE would have been proud of. A Funky bass beat and arpeggiated guitar lead lines lead into a main guitar rhythm that’s very strong and solid, before the vocals come in and give the song a very edgy atmosphere. The leads lines in the chorus sections work really well, whilst the bass line and the drums keep the song flowing from end to end. The riff is really catchy and will stick in your head!

“Rock Bottom Blues” opens with an organ intro, before a very sultry lead line comes over the top. It’s almost the kind of intro you can remember from early PINK FLOYD. The song then starts fully, but this really is a Blues number, a very slow and emotive story being told in the lyrics, backed up with the bass, a snare drum and kick drum beat, and occasional guitar chords giving it that sound. The song does pick the tempo up slightly for a bit, as the guitar solo is very sultry, before the tempo drops as the song goes back to the story. To me the song does go on a little bit due to the instrumental sections which does work, but maybe they should be scaled down slightly.

“Diamond Shoes” opens with another catchy little riff, before the drums enter, and there’s even the guitars being played in the country style with a slider, giving it a psychedelic edge. The riff in the verses coupled with the groove of the bass works really well, and again the vocals are strong and performed brilliantly. This one is a very catchy little number and will get stuck in your head after a few listens!

Next is the strangely titled “Penny And A Dead Horse”, opening again with a sliding guitar intro, leading to an arpeggiated melody, before the vocals come in, and again with that raspy soulful tone, to tell a story about a woman and lost love. The sliding guitar is played through the verse, and to this reviewer, is used a bit too much during this song. It doesn’t ruin it but maybe overpowers the song at times. It’s a very dark song, before in the middle, the drums come in with a war-type march, and the sliding guitar again on a reverb delay, gives it a spooky edge.

There is even the use of electronic synths towards the end of that section, and to me that is far too much and ruins the song. If it wasn’t for those effects, the song would be strong enough.

Next is “Moonshine”, which starts with yet another catchy little riff. This is one strength that these guys have for sure. Again the straight forward Rock beat and bass line in harmony together, before the bass line is solidly played through the verses and the guitars chorded every few bars. It’s a great song, and again the vocals are strong and powerful. One of the highlights of this album!

The final track is “Coming Home”, which clocks in at over 15 minutes long. Opening with an almost DIRE STRAITS-sounding keyboard and guitar intro that even Mark Knopfler would be proud of. This is a very emotional track, with the guitar lead lines taking centre stage through most of the song. When the guitars do finally kick in, they give the song so much needed momentum, whilst the rhythm section is solid. The instrumental section yet again features a sliding guitar part, which has been used far too much during this album.

It’s almost as if they rely on it for their sound, yet that’s held up without the need for it in my opinion. The odd different timings during the instrumental section through you a bit, before the bass and drums are having their own spot in the limelight, which I have to admit is lovely to hear. It grooves along nicely and very strong before the lead lines enter again, giving it a very 70’s feel again. It works really well. It’s pretty much instrumental all the way to a minute before the end, when there is one last chorus before the song fades out.

Overall, this album is very strong and has a very contemporary feel to it, and that 70’s influence cannot be dismissed as its very prominent. The singer’s vocals are strong and commanding at times and soulful at others, which is a joy to listen to. The only let down would be the sliding guitar being used a bit too much and some of the instrumental sections do stretch out a bit for no real reason. Otherwise this is a solid release, so if you like rock with a 70’s twist, with a bit of a blues feel, then you would like this album.

3 Star Rating

1. Swinging on the Run
2. Free
3. Holding On
4. Cortez the Killer
5. A Bit of Devil
6. Rock Bottom Blues
7. Diamond Shoes
8. A Penny and a Dead Horse
9. Moonshine
10. Coming Home
Nick van Delft - Vocals / Guitar
Stephan Gall - Guitar
Ruben Claro - Bass
Janosch Rathmer - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records


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