Album review: PLANET OF ZEUS – Loyal To The Pack

No prizes for guessing that Planet of Zeus hail from Greece and, having reviewed a couple of rather ear-catching things from that neck of the woods recently, it might just be time to go bar-hopping and check out the live music scene for myself. Maybe there’s a mile-long stretch like in Camden littered with quality live music venues, and selling meze and ouzo ? It’s always been the case that musical creativity is often driven by angst, rebellion, anger or isolation about something and maybe that’s where these boys get their edge – the urge to rock out in response to “the European capitalist monolithic union’s shoddy treatment of one of its poorer nations”….YEAH !

Whatever…..these lads’ fourth album is in parts very good, certainly interesting, a bit all over the place and a very worthwhile listen. Smidgeons of Clutch, QOTSA, Dead Daisies and Avenged Sevenfold abound throughout. Hard to say which tracks to head for as being typical fare on this album but opener and title track “Loyal to the Pack” goes off like a seven bell alarm at 5.30 in the morning, complete with a rollicking riff and strangled-cat vocals. That vocal style pops up occasionally though isn’t a mainstay of this album – it appeals to some but is confusing here as vocalist, Babis Papanikolaou, actually has power and tunefulness in his voice, coming across a tad Chris Cornell-ish on staccato-punchy “Devil Calls My Name”.

“Them Nights” re-kindles a Walking Papers-type melody and execution whilst “Retreat” is a decent, building anthem a la “Nothing Else Matters”.

“White Shroud” is a bit proggy with “twin-Lizzie” guitars featuring a verse rumble of The Zoo and a Maiden-esque  holler-along coda….confused ? Well, hell – who says everything has to be in a box (well, actually the record companies do but they’re dinosaurs these days). Billing themselves as a southern rock/metal band, there’s naturally a touch of Black Stone Cherry about Planet of Zeus.

“Scum Alive” is screamy and growly over a catchy and less-than-dainty, Clutch-like manic riff – tight as an OJ Simpson glove.

Loyal To The Pack is a slow-burn but definitely gets there in the end. More support slots like the ones they’ve enjoyed with Monster Magnet, Ozzy and EyeHateGod might ensure Planet of Zeus don’t stay a big fish in a little pond. ***1/2

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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