DARK ZODIAK – Ophiuchus
The German outfit Dark Zodiak dabbles in a groovy mixture of death metal and thrash metal where the emphasis is on relatively simple yet catchy riffs, plenty of variety in terms of pace and atmosphere, and thick, rumbling chords with a heavy vibe to them. I would not exactly deem this stuff original or musically innovative, but there are several great ideas and good songs to be discovered and enjoyed on this ten-track slice of hard-hitting metal.
In terms of style and tone, Dark Zodiak recall Obituary and even Destruction here and there; the former because of the oppressive and vile mood of some of the parts and sections and the latter due to the more 80s-influenced thrash metal riffs that permeate the record. The vocals, which are handled by Simone Schwarz; are in many respects diverse and complement the music nicely. The arrangements do offer some wicked surprises and interesting twists where things take a different turn to what one probably expects, which is pretty neat. The sound is rough around the edges and carries punch, and the thing about "Ophiuchus" is that it is neither convoluted nor technically impressive stuff as such – it is all about serving the song and piecing something worthwhile and memorable together so that we are left with a bunch of aggressive tunes that are effective.
It took me a little while to warm to this album and absorb its content, but I must say that I find its blend of death metal and thrash metal quite cool and invigorating. It lacks a thunderous finale, and all the songs are entertaining rather than extraordinary, but this release definitely is worth seeking out, folks.