Sonic Child

Written by: BV on 01/01/2015 15:59:12

Zodiac, hailing from Germany, have both feet planted firmly in the ground laid out by their 60’s and 70’s forefathers and rock pioneers in bands such as a Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Deep Purple – spiced up with a few hints of progressive and psychedelic rock for good measure. “Sonic Child” is their third release and their second one under the Napalm Records banner. “Sonic Child” is also the band’s by far most ambitious project yet, emphasizing a desire for working with a loose concept for the album, rather than just a string of riffs tied together.

As such, “Sonic Child” seems to emphasize a genuine, albeit a bit too monotonous, showcasing of just how much these guys seem to love music. Spoken-word album opener “Intro – Who I Am” makes this abundantly clear with the relatively corny lyrics; ”It is war and peace at once / it unites me with the world / and makes my heart beat faster / music, is who I am”. Detailed lyrics aside, the intro track others little else of interest in its short, ambient runtime which occasionally favors the pompous build-up tendencies of mid-seventies British progressive rock. It’s a nice novelty item on the album but seems irrelevant on its own.

The following track, “Swinging on the Run”, leans far more on a straightforward rock n’ roll approach reminiscent of Humble Pie and Canned Heat with a groovy blues-rock riff that, albeit showcasing an affinity for predictable chord progressions, has me nodding along. The guitars are well-produced, perhaps a tad overproduced as they ring clearly through the remainder of the soundscape, albeit with relatively little edge to them. They’re audible and crunchy but a bit of edge or nerve is lacking. Nick Van Delft’s vocals are classic in this sort of setting – never really trying to be more than what they are, instead just going along with the flow and adding a certain sense of charisma to the proceedings. It is evident that, in spite of an abundance of great musicianship, it is indeed Van Delft’s vocals and the dual guitar work that seems to carry the most weight in the band’s favored soundscape.

“Sad Song” adds a certain sense of melancholy to the proceedings and actually delivers a bit more than one would expect from the relatively straightforward and not-so-promising title of the track. Functioning as a tender acoustic ballad spiced up with some beautiful (and I do mean beautiful) slide-guitar playing, the track is relatively simple. However, Van Delft’s somewhat storytelling lyrics work perfectly within this sparse setup, letting lines like; ”Another dawn that is gone / another day and another night / it’s just another tired run” stand out and draw attention on their own. Van Delft is not a poetic genius of sorts, but the lyrics are easy to connect with, thus fulfilling the primary purpose of including a melancholic ballad like “Sad Song” on the album.

“Rock Bottom Blues” is by far the longest track on the album, but it showcases several aspects of the band rather nicely in that Van Delft’s vocals suit the delta-blues setting of the track nicely whilst the length of the track permits some more explorative blues-guitar solos that strangely never seem like instrumental wanking, but more like a necessary part of the soundscape.

As a concept, I think “Sonic Child” still needs some polishing as it seems a little rough around the edges. However, as a collection of songs it is indeed quite listenable and although the slick production seems to take away a bit of my personal joy of listening, I’m sure others will find it to be a perfect fit. Zodiac’s third outing still marks them as interesting but I have yet to see them do something remarkable. They’re getting closer though, so perhaps their fourth outing will yield something spectacular? One could always hope, I suppose.

Download: Sonic Child, Holding On, Rock Bottom Blues
For the fans of: Scorpion Child, Rival Sons, Graveyard
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.09.2014
Napalm Records

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