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:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.