May 1, 2012
Zodiac N Black - The Aftermyth ...
'The Aftermyth' is the début album from London band Zodiac N Black. Now we have reviewed a lot of bands with the retro-rock sound and vibe but about half of them have been hit or miss. A few of course really stand out, Gentlemens Pistols for one but here is another one that is a all-round winner in my book and a band that has extreme amounts of potential for the future. This band, like so many others has one foot in the 70's hard rock style but while others just simply recycle a well used formula, Zodiac N Black really seem to be trying to do something else with it and make it their own. This album has the usual trademarks; the sabbathian bottom-end rumble, the sometimes bluesy Led Zeppelinish vibes and endless infectious classic rock grooves but I still think they are more modern sounding than most other bands doing the retro-rock thing.
As well as having a great band name, these guys are excellent songwriters first and this album never sticks to one formula per-se. At times it is pure 70's, other times it heads off into early Monster Magnet psych-metal land while at other times, it sounds positively unique. Kicking off with the monster riff work-out that is 'Bastinado,' this album gets off to an amazing start. Catchy heavy riffing with a nice amount of fuzz, Geezer Butlerish bass playing and an energetic performance from the band members themselves - this track is a pure joy to listen to but there is even better material to come. 'A Necessary Evil' and the somewhat funky 'Only The Lonely' are both infectious tunes that married the very best of 70's US hard rock with early 90's grunge and psychedelic metal. A lot of people cringe when they read the word "grunge" or any talk of "alternative rock" but then again most people have forgotten that at its best, that too was music rooted in the 70's style. This band at times adds a touch of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden flavor to the mix but it is done with finesse and is always tastefully executed.
As this album plays on, the better it seems to get. 'The Joke Is on Us,' 'Better off Dead,' and the full-on energetic assault of 'Seems Like Better Times' keep this very varied album going at a rapid pace as these songs fly by in no time at all. To add another angle to the already diverse collection of songs, 'Who's The Fool (Part One)' is somewhat of a power-ballad but it is a good one and thankfully devoid of any cheese. It showcases their ability as musicians to switch directions at will and to play songs with different feels to them. The album ends on three more great tracks ending with 'Lights On Blues' that has breath-taking guitar work that you only usually hear from the 70's masters (eg: Page, Iommi & Blackmore).
What is truly wonderful about 'The Aftermyth' is there is so many different sides to the band. There is garage 70's rock a-la Grand Funk Railroad, there is powerhouse bluesy rock like Zeppelin and there is also the bottom-ended rumble of a Black Sabbath. Add to that, the 90's grunge-rock element, some southern-rock and a psychedelic side, you could say this band has got it all. About the only thing they don't do is straight out doom but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't do something like that in the future as well. The album is nicely produced but the real magic is in the songs themselves. Without a doubt, this is the best new band playing in this vein that I have heard in well over a year. A real surprise for 2012, this is one album you can't miss....9.5/10.
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