According to Wikipedia, “Ophiuchus is a 13th large constellation straddling the celestial equator. Its name is from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος (Ophioukhos, serpent-bearer)”. It is also reflected in astrology: the mysterious sign of zodiac and all the stuff. And it is therefore not surprising that German female-fronted Thrash/Death Metal band Dark Zodiak named their new album that way: Ophiuchus: The Thirteenth Sign Of Zodiac.
Today Dark Zodiak are: Simone Schwarz (vocals), Steffi Bergmann (bass), Charly Gak (guitar), Benni Poeck (guitar) and Dieter Schwarz (drums). The band was formed in 2011 in a small town Ettingen, southwest Germany. In 10 years of existence the band released their debut EP Throwing Stones and two longplays See You In Hell (2015) and Landscapes Of Our Soul (2017). Also Dark Zodiak played in Europe, sharing stages with such bands like Tankard, Debauchery, Eluveitie, Stillbirth and many more. And now the time has come for their third album.
Musically, Ophiuchus is an old school Death Metal with wide use of Thrash Metal elements. Musicians put the accent not on technics or playing speed but on the heaviness and brutality. As a result, we have a meaty and quite various Death Metal album, which will not be boring after first or second listening.
The first thing I want to emphasize here is a rhythm-section: Dieter’s drums are exactly what this music need – fast and ferocious, with a lot of blast beats and double pedals while Steffis’s mighty bass sounds on par with guitars here on Ophiuchus. Simone’s vocals also worth to mention: she combines various extreme vocals, using growls and screaming and from time to time she goes “pig squealing”, sometimes unexpected.
The opening “Do More Say Less” pretty well shows the listener what to expect from this album: potent bass with drums join the grim guitar in intro and then the music goes sharply to Thrash Metal aggression, changing with Death brutality further, while guitar solo changes with bass one. The same Thrash and Death blending can be also heard in titled “Ophiuchus” with good bass intro and Simone’s sinister whispering and the song named “From Thrash Till Death”.
“Heaven, Earth and Beneath” goes more to old school Death Metal with Charly and Benni’s fast and brutal guitar riffs. The same can be said about “Destroy Destruction” and “Invisible Apocalypse”, which sounds pretty evil. However, if we are talking about “evil” sound, as for me, it reaches the climax in “Humor” (man, I love the songs’ naming here!): starting with a mid-pace, seems like the band slowly increase everything – heaviness, brutality and somber. Nevertheless, in actual “2020 A.D.” Simone put all her anger and brutality in vocals. “Total Freedom” tries to go somewhere to Prog territory but this impulse fades pretty quickly and the music becomes a typical Death Metal with hammering riff. And finally the ending “Ignorance” returns to changing Thrash and Death that were in the beginning of the album.
In my opinion, Ophiuchus isn’t pretending for some innovativeness or something similar in extreme music and it hardly needs this. Like I said before, the main things here are heaviness and brutality and Dark Zodiak gives them generously, even in abundance. So, all in all, Ophiuchus became good old school Death Metal album with modern approach, diluted with Thrash Metal and recorded qualitatively. So if you a Death Metal fan or just in need of some meaty music, don’t miss this album!
Ophiuchus will be released on January, 30.
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