German rockers Zodiac are back with their sophomore album A Hiding Place, due out October 29 via Prosthetic Records. This is the eagerly-awaited follow-up to their critically-acclaimed debut A Bit Of Devil that also had fans frothing at the mouth. Working once again with producer Martin Meinschäfer the band was able to capture a warm and clear sound, even partly recording some of the album live in the studio. The results are a great blend of rock and blues that sounds just as at home in days of yore as it does today.
Leadoff single and video “Downtown” is the kind of song that will be stuck in your head hours, maybe even days after you first hear it. I was walking around singing it for about three, myself. “Free” is a groovy affair that takes you on a ride, cool organ in the background and all. It is a seven minute magical journey, and who knows where we’ll end up, but let’s go! The playful funk of “Underneath My Bed” will have your toes tappin’ in no time flat, and the beautiful piano ballad “Leave Me Blind” is elegantly played, and is one of the album’s best.
The likes of Humble Pie and Led Zeppelin are channeled for “Moonshine” a swampy-blues piece of goodness that kind of goes its own free-form way in the closing minutes. “Believer” is another epic, organ-driven with some seriously hot guitar work, too. The rich guitar tones carry over into brief instrumental “I Wanna Know Part 1” which gets all revved up for its second half, solos flying about, so as to carry us into, you guessed it, “I Wanna Know Part 2”. On the verses, it’s definitely one of the more low-key pieces of music found here, and the harmonies on the choruses are warm and inviting for sure.
Now let me state this for the record: I am NOT a Neil Young fan. Quite frankly, his music irritates me to no end. Having said that, I was completely floored by Zodiac’s cover of one of his old tunes, “Cortez the Killer”. Obviously I think it’s an improvement over the original, but even as a stand-alone song, it simply smoulders. Nick Van Delft’s vocal delivery is pained and world-weary, and the guitars simmer on a low flame setting till it’s time to turn up and burn on the solos. Well done!!
There is no sophomore slump happening with Zodiac. A Hiding Place is not only as good as their first album; it leaves it squarely in its rearview. I can’t wait to see/hear this stuff live.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Leave Me Blind”, “Believer”, “Cortez the Killer”, “Free”, “Downtown”