Zodiac’s “Sonic Child” Is Another One Of 2014′s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Pure Rock Records

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

When Prosthetic Records added Zodiac to its roster two years ago, it went without saying that doing so was something of a gamble for the label.  It was such a gamble because much like Century Media, Metal Blade, Roadrunner, and others, Prosthetic is known more for the “extreme metal” bands that make up its roster than for the likes of the Munster, Germany-based band.  That’s not to say that Prosthetic sticks primarily to that more extreme sound.  Acts such as Niacin and Felix Martin both stand out among Prosthetic’s other acts.  Zodiac however has become the label’s most commercially viable band since Lamb of God was signed on with the company.  Zodiac’s mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock has helped the band to stand out among its label mates ever since the release of its 2012 Prosthetic Records debut A Bit of Devil.  Now with its third full-length studio effort, Zodiac has one again set itself apart from its label mates and grown just as much musically.  From the slow blues-based opener ‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ to the more up-tempo neo stoner rocker that is ‘Holding On’ to the equally catchy closer ‘Swinging on the Run,’ this record proves to have not one bad moment.  It proves to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Sonc Child, Zodiac’s third full-length studio effort, is by and large the band’s best work to date.  With its mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock sounds, this record proves to be one that every rock purist should hear at least once.  Right off the top, the band grabs listeners without really trying in the album’s opener ‘A Penny and a Dead Horse.’  The twelve-bar blues churned out in the song’s “A” section conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and so many of the forefathers of the blues.  Anyone that is a fan of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry, and other bands of that ilk will enjoy the more straight forward neo-stoner rock sound of the song’s “B” and “C” sections.  Lyrically, the song is just as enjoyable.  Vocalist Nick van Delft sings about an unnamed woman that has left a man, and left him with basically nothing.  Thus the song’s title.  van Delft sings of the woman, “Oh, woman/Where have you gone with that/Pot of gold/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/You had to leave me/Before the break of dawn/Somebody been haunting you/Somebody run you down/Over the yonder/Beyond the fields/Someone call your name/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/Sweet darlin’/You left me to die alone/With a penny and a dead horse.”  van Delft paints such a vivid picture thanks to the way in which he sings these lines.  The gradual tempo increase as the song progresses makes that picture just as vivid.  The picture goes from a man sitting alone in the darkness, perhaps drinking from a bottle of cheap whiskey to someone who feels something stronger as he and his band mates sing, “So long, so long” in the chorus.  The song’s final strains exhibit perhaps the man’s collapse.  This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation on the song.  Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now at the Prosthetic Records website at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  While there, audiences can also order Sonic Child, which was just recently released at the end of September.

‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ is a wonderful addition to Sonic Child. It is also just one excellent example of what makes this album such a surprisingly enjoyable record.  ‘Holding On’ is another solid example of why this record proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable rock record.  Where the album’s opener almost tells its own story, ‘Holding On’ is more of a straight-forward rock song.  It harkens back to rock and roll’s golden era much like Black Stone Cherry, Fireball Ministry, and others of that ilk.  van Delft sings against drummer Janosch Rathmer’s solid timekeeping and fellow guitarist Stephen Gall’s own work, “What is the point of your life/Your life/All covered up in those eyes/Those eyes/So now free mind/You’re one of a kind/Take a hold of the good things/And give sight to the blind/Tell me the one thing you see/Tell me the one thing you know/Show me the one thing you live for/Holding on.”  This set against the song’s opening verse in which van Delft sings, “Time keeps on ticking/Revealing your patience/It’s only a matter of self-defense/Eager to please/Your only disease/It’s just the weight on your mind/A day of your life/A step on your way to return” makes the song especially interesting.  There is a seeming message about each one of us having a meaning in life and it being just a matter of finding that meaning.  Again, that could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is right, though.  Regardless, the very fact that it could lead to such deep thought serves to make this song all the more enjoyable.  The guitar solo in the song’s final movement adds even more enjoyment to the whole work.  Between that impressive guitar work, the deep, thoughtful lyrics and the overall talent displayed here, ‘Holding On’ shows again why any rock and roll purist should give this record at least one listen.

Zodiac shows throughout the course of its latest full-length release why this record is just as good as any album released by its bigger-named counterparts.  That is evidenced in the songs previously noted here.  From its more blues-tinged rock to its more neo-stoner sound, there is not one moment that disappoints on this record.  There is almost something of a more modern rock and roll influence in the album’s closer ‘Swinging on the Run.’  Much like the album’s opener and other tracks on this disc, ‘Swinging on the Run’ is not one for anyone with a short attention span.  This track clocks in at just over six minutes.  It’s not the album’s longest work.  that honor belongs to the aptly titled ‘Rock Bottom Blues.’  That song comes in at just over the nine minute mark.  And anyone that is a fan of the likes of The Allman Brothers Band will especially enjoy this piece with its smoky, old school blues-rock sound.  Getting back to ‘Swinging on the Run,’ audiences can clearly hear influences from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, and so many others that have come before as the song progresses.  It shows a good song doesn’t necessarily always need lyrics to be enjoyable.  that being the case, it makes perfect sense why it was chosen as the band’s final statement on this record.  It leaves audiences knowing that they have experienced something very special.  It leaves listeners knowing that along with those tracks noted here, and the remaining seven not noted, they have in Sonic Child an album that is just as deserving of respect from rock purists as any album released by the band’s more well-known counterparts.  And given the right support from listeners and radio programmers alike, it could become just as big a record as those released by said bands.

Sonic Child is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Prosthetic Records online store at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  More information on Sonic Child and all of the latest updates from Zodiac is available online at:

Website: http://www.zodiac-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Zodiac.Rock

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Atlanta Based Hard Rock Band As Raucous And Irreverent As Ever On Its Latest LP

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV Records

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV Records

Nashville Pussy front man Blaine Cartwright and his wife Ruyter Suys (pronounced Rider Sighs) have spent nearly two decades making hard rock for the masses.  While the husband and wife duo have largely stayed just under the radar that whole time.  That hasn’t deterred them, either.  The pair (with their latest band mates) is set to release the band’s sixth full length studio release later this month. Up The Dosage is scheduled to be released Tuesday, January 21st via Steamhammer/SPV Records.  And it goes without saying that this new record shows Cartwright and company have not lost any steam over the course of their careers.

It goes without saying that Up The Dosage is a fitting title for the latest release from Blaine Cartwright and company.  The band has continued on this record, its long-standing tradition of crafting some of the most raucous and irreverent rock songs that the music world has ever heard.  The album’s opener, ‘Everybody’s Fault But Mine’ is a prime example of this.  Musically speaking, its sound is similar to bands the likes of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry and others of that ilk.  Its lyrical side makes it even more enjoyable.  It comes across lyrically as a proverbial middle finger to all those that would want to blame others for their problems.  Imagine Hatebreed’s ‘Defeatist’ only aimed in a different musical direction.  Audiences will hear that for themselves as Cartwright sings, “If you see me coming/You’d best get out of my way/Cause I don’t wanna know you/You’ll just lead me astray/If the world comes crashing down/I’ve left it far behind/If I don’t make it to the top/It’s everybody’s fault but mine.”  If indeed Cartwright and company were intending a certain sharp commentary with this song, then message well received.  There are people everywhere like the individual portrayed in this song.  They are the typical “oh-woe-is-me” type that refuses to stand up and take responsibility for their own actions and the results of said actions.  Considering the history of Nashville Pussy, this is the perfect re-introduction for fans of the band that are more familiar with its material.  On the other hand, it is just as welcome an introduction for anyone that might be less familiar with the band’s catalogue.  And it’s only one of so many stand out songs that the band shares on this record.

If ‘Everybody’s Fault But Mine’ doesn’t grab audiences right off the bat, then the adrenaline-fueled song that follows definitely will prove the band’s reputation.  That song is ‘Rub it to Death.’  Musically speaking, this is a song that bears quite the Motorhead style influence.  Lyrically, it is everything that has made certain groups hate rock and roll since its early days. There is mention of both sex and drugs throughout the song that comes in at just under three minutes.  Of course so much of said material is so explicit that it can’t be reprinted here.  That content aside, ‘Rub it to Death’ is still another great addition to this record when one puts the song’s high-energy musical side next to the more adult lyrical themes.  Simply put, it’s a good fit for anyone that is a fan of Hank III.

The energy and themes established early on in Up The Dosage barely lets up as the band makes its way through the course of the thirteen tracks that comprise the album’s standard edition.  On a side note, the album will also be available in an extended edition that includes two bonus tracks.  The one time when things take a different direction–albeit a slight one at best–is on the album’s shortest song, ‘Taking It Easy.’  The song comes in at just under a single minute.  To be more precise, it clocks in at just forty-seven seconds long.  Things take a different turn here primarily in that Cartwright’s wife takes over vocal duties.  And instead of singing about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, she sings about taking a break from said topics.  She sings, “What are y’all doing on a Saturday night/I’d rather be sleeping than getting in a fight…you rock it all over like a heavy metal beast/You know you got’s to/takin’ it/takin’ it easy.”  The real irony of the song is that for a song that is about…well…taking it easy, it is quite the adrenaline-fueled anthem.  That juxtaposition alone makes it well worth the listen.  Add in the fact that it is able to say so much and make such a hard-hitting impact in such a short span of time, and audiences get a song that is far less simple than it seems on the surface.  It’s one more of so many songs that audiences new and old will appreciate on this album.

Fans overseas will get to hear even more of the band’s music beginning at the end of the month when it kicks off its European tour.  The first date on that tour is Thursday, January 30th at Le Forum in Vauxreal, France.  The latest list of the band’s tour dates is available on the band’s official website, http://www.nashvillepussy.com.  Fans can also keep up with the band via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nashville-Pussy/13091707669 and http://twitter.com/bashfulpuppy.

KingShifter’s Debut LP Takes The Top Spot As 2013′s Top New Hard Rock Record

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

2013 has been a good year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Holy Grail, Black Sabbath, and Sevendust have made this a great year for the metal masses the world over.  Now with the release of its debut full length LP via Pavement Entertainment, Wichita, Kansas based KingShifter has just made the hard rock landscape that much more interesting.

KingShifter’s debut full length release, 26 Tons is an aptly titled record.  This eleven-track record is a heavy-hitting wrecking ball of hard rock.  From start to finish the album’s energy lets up only once.  That one time is in the near minute and a half acoustic piece, ‘.00125 lbs. (The Year of the Rat).  Other than that single moment, every other song on this record makes it one of the best debut records from a rock band (either mainstream or indie) in a very long time.  Its combination of hard hitting guitar licks, drums, and equally scathing lyrics make it a record that any purist metal head will appreciate.  And it all starts early on in the form of, ‘Revolution Generation.’  Front man Sprout sings about what’s happening to the country today.  From the epidemic of companies and doctors working together to sell their drugs, to the issue of school violence, Sprout runs the gamut.  Along the way he and his band mates wave a defiant musical flag declaring, “If we don’t do anything now/We’re soon to be doomed/We’ve got to stand strong/We shall not be moved/We are Americans/And we have proof/That we survived/The taxes, fiscal cliffs, and all of the wars/We’re here to tell you now/We won’t take it anymore!”  The song’s declaration of pride and self-empowerment is a call to arms and an anthem for a whole new generation.  And given the right support, could very well be the opening salvo in what breaks this band into the mainstream.

If ‘Revolution Generation’ isn’t enough example of what makes this a solid debut from KingShifter, then perhaps the equally hard rocking and defiant (yet far shorter) ‘STFU (& Die Already)’ will.  This punk styled piece comes in at just under two minutes long.  In that short time, this song hits just as hard as ‘Revolution Generation’ and any of the album’s other songs.  It is an intense song that goes after the news media—Sprout sings, “Television/I wanna burn it down”—and all of the negativity that clots television today.  In connection, he notes in no uncertain terms the effect that television has on people and his displeasure on the matter.

KingShifter’s debut record has plenty of social commentary and hard rock.  For all the commentary that it offers, there is some lighter material on this record, too.  Case in point, ‘Downin’ Booze – Raisin’ Hell.’  This song is a party song.  It’s an anthem for the blue collar workers across the country.  The influence from hard rock supergroup HellYeah is quite obvious both lyrically and musically in this song.  This is clear in the song’s second verse as Sprout sings, “I’ve been inside/Of this dirty cage/Locked inside for five whole days/I’ve gotta ease my mind/And leave that bulls*** behind/This ******’s gonna go on a rage!”  With such high energy lyrics and equally high energy music, this song is more than certain to become just one of so many fan favorites and fan anthems both on KingShifter’s record and at its live shows. 

The songs noted here are just a few examples of what listeners can expect from Kingshifter’s upcoming debut record.  There is much more that audiences will appreciate throughout the album.  So much more could be written of 26 Tons.  But to do so would require more time and space than is available.  Simply put, given the chance by radio programmers and by Pavement Entertainment, 26 Tons could make Kingshifter one of the next big names in hard rock.  The album will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 3rd.  Fans can hear just some of the band’s music now online at the band’s official Reverb Nation page, http://www.reverbnation.com/kingshifter.  There’s even a music video from the band on its page, too.  Audiences can also check out the band’s music on its official MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/kingshifter.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from the band, fans can follow the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KingShifterRock and on its official website, http://www.kingshifter.com

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Gypsyhawk’s Sophomore LP Another Hit For Metal Blade

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Guitars, bass, drums, and vocals.  That’s really all rock and roll needs.  And that’s what Pasadena, California’s own Gypsyhawk has brought to the game once again with its new album, “Revelry and Resilience.”  This album is a straight forward hard rocking work that will have every warm blooded rocker out there banging his or her heard, and putting his or her horns high with pride.  “Revelry and Resilience” is an example of everything that is and ever has been right with rock music.

The whole rock party kicks off with fittingly with the song, ‘Overdrive.’   To quote the line, this song is all killer, no filler.  From the killer guitar solos from Andrew Packer and Erik Kluiber, to front man Eric Harris’ Lemmy Kilmister-like vocals, to drummer Ian Brown’s driving beat, this song is a perfect start to the record in every way.  The band barely lets up from here, kicking right into ‘The Fields’ with equal adrenaline.  ‘Hedgeking’ follows in similar fashion, keeping the adrenaline and the blood flowing in its listeners’ veins from start to finish. 

There’s little letting up from there on throughout the remainder of this record.  Gypsyhawk’s sound has obviously evolved from its first album, “Patience and Perseverance.”  The band had a solid old school rock and roll sound on that record.  But the band’s sound seems even more honed this time out.  The band is right up there with the likes of Fireball Ministry, Airbourne, and others of that ilk on this album.  What makes Gypsyhawk better than those bands though, is its ability to cross the rock and roll spectrum, rather than stick to one style.  Airbourne is more closely linked to AC/DC and Fireball Ministry is compared more to classic Ozzy.  In the case of Gypsyhawk, this band has guitar work that pays homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Priest, and even Iron Maiden just to name a few.  And as already noted front man Eric Harris’ vocals are weirdly similar to that of Lemmy Kilmister.  All of that being noted, Gypsyhawk’s new album, “Revelry and Resilience” will be a favorite among the fans of true old school guitar driven rock and roll, this reviewer included.  In fact, there is little doubt that by the end of the year, it will find itself on this reviewer’s list of the year’s best hard rock and metal albums.

“Revelry and Resilience” will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, August 28th.  It can be ordered direct through Metal Blade’s website at http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/gypsyhawk.  The band will be performing a handful of live dates this Fall and Winter to support the album.  Fans can check out those dates and all the latest from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/Gypsyhawkusa, http://gyspsyhawk.bandcamp.com, and http://gypsyhawkusa.blogspot.com.  

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