“A Hiding Place” is the second album from German retro rockers Zodiac, following 2012’s well-received “A Bit of Devil”, and by the sounds of it this is a band looking to stay for the long haul as “A Hiding Place” is a huge step up in terms of playing, songwriting and overall confidence, although it wouldn’t appear that way on opening track ‘Downtown’, which is a little bit too poppy compared to what comes after it. It’s not bad, just not as good as the rest.
The fun really starts with ‘Free’, a moody run through Deep Purple-esque blues rock that has ‘future live classic’ written all over it. This is followed by the unrelenting heavy funk of ‘Underneath My Bed’, which comes complete with Hammond organ flurries and a blues solo that B.B. King himself would surely approve of, and is probably the standout track on the album.
Not that the band lower the bar after that, though, as riff after sleazy riff gets peeled off as if this album was genuinely recorded in 1973. The Lynyrd Skynyrd flavour of ‘Moonshine’ adds a little character to what could have been a standard rocker were it not for some intricate interplay between drummer Janosch Rathmer and singer/guitarist Nick Van Delft, whereas the more subtle tones of ballad ‘Believer’ may be a little syrupy for some but it never disrupts the flow of the album and helps build to the closing cover of Neil Young’s ‘Cortez the Killer’ by way of blistering two-part rocker ‘I Wanna Know’.
In this day and age of countless bands aping their 70’s heroes it comes as no surprise to say that Zodiac are hardly original, but what they are is tight and armed with an arsenal of great tunes that you’ll remember once the album finishes. The production is bang on, with the drums sounding very full and high up in the mix and everything else having room to breathe underneath those pounding rhythms. Like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Free, Zodiac don’t just bash out straightforward hard rock but bring in funk, soul and Southern rock influences that expand their core sound and if they carry on in this trajectory then hopefully we’ll hear plenty more from this band.