A Hiding Place

Written by: BV on 06/02/2014 15:34:48

When I first encountered Zodiac I was initially impressed. Showing off their massive prowess in the bluesy aspects of retro-styled hard rock, their debut album “A Bit of Devil” etched its way into my memory by being an uncompromising, notoriously rock n’ roll piece of music vastly reminiscent of Rival Sons or, for a slightly more up to date reference, Scorpion Child. How would they then manage to follow up on such a piece of hard rocking mayhem? Well, let’s see…

Initially I was horribly disappointed with the forerunning single “Downtown” which sounded somewhat cheesy and, well, not at all like I had come to expect of Zodiac. It was, to be brutally honest, completely sub par. How then, would “A Hiding Place” make a comeback from being initially portrayed by a single of such disappointing caliber? - Simple enough really, as the rest of the album just needs to as hard rocking as ever, to cover up such an otherwise fatal mistake.

Rightfully so, tracks like the impeccably crafted “Free” run along for 7 minutes, never once wavering in terms of quality as they portray the true strengths of Zodiac. Granted, blues-rock acts like Zodiac aren’t generally known for risk taking and neither is “A Hiding Place” any sort of ingenious genre-bending masterpiece. However, with tracks like “Underneath My Bed” – coming across as Deep Purple as Deep Purple should indeed sound, Hammond sweeps and furious soloing in abundance, it certainly seems like Zodiac have got their bases covered when authenticity is being questioned.

In terms of soloing, any genuinely great rock record contains a guitar slinger of a certain caliber. In terms of that, “A Hiding Place” could genuinely be called great as Nick van Delft, the guitar slinger in question, lives up to the challenge as he provides tasteful and melodic lead guitars throughout the album. The guitar work is most noticeable on the mid-album rocker “Moonshine” which gradually involves into a feverish, albeit relatively short, rush of notes being played whilst gently returning to the original, subtle and most of all melodic form of the track. Equally so, Zodiac also show some balls by covering Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" - embarking on a proto-metal-esque sonic journey with the track that I daresay improves upon the original in some ways. At the very least, it's more to my personal liking in this version.

In shorter terms, Zodiac’s “A Hiding Place” does exactly what you want a retro-tinged rock album to do. It performs within the holy grail of rock aesthetics, adhering to the form and function of the early 70’s where the physical format was the only format and abundant soloing wasn’t necessarily seen as taking a wank on stage. Is “A Hiding Place” better than “A Bit of Devil” then? Not by a long shot, but the album itself stands relatively strong on its own – even if “Downtown” wasn’t quite the track it was cracked up to be.

Download: Moonshine, Cortez the Killer, Underneath My Bed, Leave Me Blind
For the fans of: Scorpion Child, Wolfmother, Rival Sons, Graveyard
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.10.2013
Napalm Records

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