The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

ZODIAC MINDWARP & THE LOVE REACTION
WE ARE VOLSUNG

 

Zodiac Mindwarp is back with The Love Reaction for their first album in half a decade and “We Are Volsung” finds him embracing his inner Viking!

 

In Scandinavian mythology Volsung was the great grandson of Odin himself, and his clan was the subject of a series of Norse legends dating back well over a thousand years, filled with enough blood, battling Gods, revenge and murder to keep your average high school kid very happy for a day or two.

 

All of which fits nicely in with Zodi’s misogynistic, self-mythologising, acid and murder tainted world view.

 

Not exactly a concept album, “We Are Volsung” is more a mini re-exploration of the story over the first four songs. Starting with ‘Stark Von Oben’ (meaning “The Strong one from above”) and the title track, it’s easy to imagine Zodiac and his own clan standing strong and true at the helm of a Viking longship, such is the conviction of their delivery.

 

Zodiac eschews the Bowie-esque crooning he toyed with on his last album, 2005’s “Rock Savage”, this time round, returning to his trademark sneering growl, and the Norse-fuelled songs especially benefit from this – he has always had a little of the Scandinavian Viking about him, albeit wielding an electric guitar instead of a battleaxe and sitting astride a throbbing Harley as he rides over the bodies of his enemies on the road to Valhalla.

 

I’m no scholar of the Norse Gods, but I doubt that belligerant antidotes to radio pop like ‘White Trash’ and ‘Don’t Touch My Guitar’ are a perfect fit with this ancient Viking legend, but as anyone who has read Zodi/Mark Manning’s books or listened to The Love Reaction’s earlier albums will know, Zodiac has a particularly singular vision and doesn’t tend to compromise that for any reason.

 

It’s exactly that bloody mindedness which makes Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction what they are, for both better and for worse.

 

Regularly spurning commercial interests, The Love Reaction’s albums have always struggled under the crushing weight of expectation, and more often than not fallen short. While their debut EP “High Priest Of Love” and the single ‘Prime Mover’ from 1988’s follow-up “Tattooed Beat Messiah” perfectly tapped into the zeitgeist of the moment, the album sold poorly and the band disintegrated amongst rumours of gargantuan drug abuse, and record advances blown on hookers and comic books.

 

Whilst his lyrics in those crazy early days were the drug-fuelled stream of consciousness ravings of a hyper intelligent madman, they were also very entertaining and a striking point of difference with the hundreds of other bands out there. The band were occasionally written off by some at the time for taking the piss or being clowns, but I for one miss his old lyrical style – nowadays things are just a little too two dimensional in comparison with the colourful, mind-expanding, mad 3D days of old. Of the ten tracks here, ‘Don’t Touch my Guitar’ best showcases the sense of humour that underpins all of his work.

 

Zodi’s partner in crime since day one, Cobalt Stargazer, is here as always, peeling dirty AC/DC meets T-Rex riffs from his trusty axe Sleazegrinder, and The Love Reaction is completed by “The Cat” on drums and “Jack Shitt” on rumbling and throbbing bass.

 

‘Die Pretty’ is another highlight, (“live dangerous, die pretty” shows a tiny hint of his formerly quirky lyrical dexterity) and album closer ‘Kill Me A Mockingbird’ is quite the departure for them, reminiscent of a slow burning metal take on a Nick Cave murder ballad – complete with Stagger Lee reference - laden with bluesy guitar.

 

It’s a heady brew and certainly one of the better – and heavier - ZM albums. They don’t quite hit their stride as well as on the 2002 lost classic “I Am Rock”, but it’s more consistent than their last album “Rock Savage”.

 

With each successive listen I find Zodiac’s bloody-minded vision becoming more apparent and there are treasures within “We Are Volsung” that take some time to tap into – give it a chance to grow on you, and you will be rewarded.

 

The Prime Mover is back, shouts the press release for this album, and he certainly sounds like he’s ready to battle towards Ragnarok.

 

Best bit: Zodiac snarling his way through ‘Stark Von Oben’ and ‘We Are Volsung’ with the psychopathic glint of megalomania ain his eyes like the barely repressed murderer he wishes he was.


Shane Rockpit

 

Release dates
24 September in Germany
27 September in Europe
12 October USA/Canada

Thanks to Riot Entertainment & SPV for the chance to review the CD in advance