Human Zoo - My Own God
(Fastball - 2016)
Human Zoo, a German six piece hard rock act seem to have come equipped for everything, with every style and every instrument - saxophone included - tucked under their creative armpit.
Their fourth album 'My Own God', on having cross-referenced their preceding material lends a lot to the ear and to enjoyment. Trained round a hard rock base, they break every pane around them within forty one minutes. Opening number 'One Direction' promises what it delivers - no, not boy-band slush, before you ask - although a waw-waw pedal intro is a little soon in the album for my taste. The chorus is creamy traditional rock for the 21st century, setting the template for the following ten cuts.
Strong sustained lead notes from guitarist Ingolf Engler before a last assault of the chorus cast a warning that not even 'Cry Baby Cry' with it's criminally Firehouse-like chorus can dampen. With a fantastic overlap of guitar, keyboard and also sassy interludes by saxophonist Boris Matakovic the gear lever is loosened ready for 'Love Train', a high octane trip of heavy rock. Singer Thomas Seeburger's rich nasal melodies seem to move them along under any setting of direction and do ballads like 'Day To Remember' particular justice, coming across as a reinvented David Coverdale for the current day.
'My Own Illusion' swoops in with a plush power ballad groove filled over by a smooth sax melody before moving into something surprisingly heavier and more in the mould of fellow countrymen Edguy and Helloween, and with a soaring chorus vocal to suit. 'NSA', a slightly industrial-edged metal pounder with a crowd-of a chorus qualifies as the likely heaviest track with an unsettling vocal overlap on the chorus that while better left for the live stage, on record just fogs the hook up. Bringing things back to the surface, 'Like A Bitch' rings hugely reminiscent of Brit favourites Vega while '4U' is a feroucious bar room basher built in the Airbourne vein and lead by a bolshy blues solo.
'Solitaire' stomps its way by with stadium rock might, 'Wave Your Flag wisps through in semi-ballad form beyond with another pleasant ripple by Mr Matakovic, before the age old cliche of closing with an acoustic track is visited for 'Reminds Me Of You' with a very sweet Californian haze hanging behind long after the hookline ends. Sweltering stuff from another long kept Teutonic secret now revealed at our end of the channel. Large songs, sturdy instrument handling and huge influence use are why Hunan Zoo deserved to be heard of from the first album inwards...still at least they're here now.
Be your own God and buy a copy of this one.
By Dave Attrill
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Whitesnake, Gotthard, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Heat, Work Of Art, Europe, Dokken & Talisman.