Album Review – Dark Zodiak / Ophiuchus (2021)

These Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal are ready to smash us all to the sound of their third full-length album, translating into extreme music the thirteenth sign of the zodiac.

Thrilling live shows, a crushing sound, direct interaction with the crowd and an incendiary fusion of Thrash and Death Metal forged from whipping riffs, vicious drums and thunderous female growls. That’s exactly what Eggingen, Germany-based squad Dark Zodiak stands for, leading the band to rock all over Germany and Europe and to share the stage with renowned acts such as Tankard, Debauchery and Eluveitie, among many others, since their inception in 2011. After the releases of their 2011 debut demo Throwing Stones, followed by the full-length albums See You in Hell, from 2014, and Landscapes of Our Soul, from 2017, it’s time for frontwoman Simone Schwarz, guitarists Charly Gak and Benni Poeck, bassist Steffi Bergmann and drummer Dieter Schwarz to smash our skulls once again with their third installment, the heavy and furious Ophiuchus, the thirteenth sign of the zodiac. A large constellation straddling the celestial equator, having its name taken from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος (Ophioukhos, or “serpent-bearer”), Ophiuchus is a lesson in underground extreme music, showcasing a band that’s not only extremely talented, but that also nurtures a deep passion for Death and Thrash Metal presented as 48 minutes of music split into the ten unrelenting, organic and honest tracks.

A sinister intro evolves into the thrashing beast Do More Say Less, with Simone providing her welcome card through her guttural, she-demon vocals, while Charly and Benni fire razor-edge Death Metal riffs nonstop, and it’s time for Dieter to smash his drums rabidly in the fast and furious Heaven, Earth And Beneath, showcasing a perfect combination of the instrumental madness from Thrash Metal with the vile growling from Death Metal, consequently inspiring us all to smash our skulls into the circle pit. Their sick and violent display of Death and Thrash Metal goes on in Invisible Apocalypse, where Simone invests in some demented Deathslam-inspired screeches while Steffi and Dieter make sure the ambience remains as dense as possible with their infernal kitchen; whereas the obscure vociferations by Simone kick off the infernal Ophiuchus, sounding as if Exodus went full Death Metal and presenting a great job done once again by the band’s guitar duo with their dirty riffs and solos, resulting in over seven minutes of ass-kicking metal with atmospheric passages and endless rage. Then another round of their unstoppable beats, crushing riffage and devilish roars is offered to our ears in the form of Destroy Destruction, a classic Death Metal tune with Dieter showcasing all his dexterity and insanity behind his drums.

The band’s blazing guitars will slash your ears in the also violent, headbanging tune Humor, where Simone’s deep growls walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Dieter, resulting in a solid and entertaining display of old school Death Metal, followed by From Thrash Till Death, once again bringing to our avid ears a pulverizing fusion of Thrash and Death Metal spearheaded by the scorching riffs by Charly and Benni during its three minutes of music tailored for banging our heads like true maniacs. The lyrics in 2020 A.D. couldn’t have represented better the current (and shitty) state of our world, while musically speaking it’s a mid-tempo, hammering extravaganza where Steffi’s bass (together with Dieter’s drums) will make your head tremble in great Death Metal fashion; and after a quick intro, Total Freedom explodes into pure Death Metal in their second to last breath of violence, and you better get ready to growl and gnarl together with Simone during the entire song, not to mention the heaviness of the pounding beats by Dieter. Lastly, blending the gory sound of Cannibal Corpse with the thrashing madness of Exodus and Nuclear Assault the band offers us all Ignorance, a great choice to close the album showcasing Simone’s vicious and demonic growling and the always thrilling drums by Dieter from start to finish, leaving us disoriented but absolutely eager for more of their music in the future.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Dark Zodiak did a damn good job throughout the entire album, offering our ears humongous dosages of savagery, dexterity and passion for extreme music. Hence, we should all hail those Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their music on Spotify, and by grabbing a copy of Ophiuchus from their own website, from their BandCamp page, and soon enough from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon. And may the stars of our beloved Death and Thrash Metal keep guiding Dark Zodiak in their quest for total annihilation, celebrating heavy music with more ass-kicking releases like Ophiuchus.

Best moments of the album: Heaven, Earth And Beneath, Ophiuchus and Ignorance.

Worst moments of the album: Total Freedom.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Do More Say Less 5:49
2. Heaven, Earth And Beneath 4:04
3. Invisible Apocalypse 3:45
4. Ophiuchus 7:18
5. Destroy Destruction 4:40
6. Humor 5:16
7. From Thrash Till Death 3:03
8. 2020 A.D. 4:52
9. Total Freedom 5:27
10. Ignorance 3:57

Band members
Simone Schwarz – vocals
Charly Gak – guitar
Benni Poeck – guitar
Steffi Bergmann – bass
Dieter Schwarz – drums

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