Monday, October 17, 2011

Power of Zeus - The Gospel According to Zeus (1970)

Power of Zeus were a hard rock/psychedelic group that had the misfortune to get signed to a Motown subsidiary. The folks at the label really had no experience with this kind of music, and the result of their efforts packs less of a punch than it might. The band members have expressed dissatisfaction with the album, claiming that it did not capture their live sound and, regrettably, they never got another chance.

Before writing them off as a footnote to the psychedelic movement, however, we have to admit that many of the songs presented here are quite good. The band had a lot of unique ideas, solid musicianship and the charm that only a Hammond Organ can bring. A couple of the tracks teeter on the edge of the then burgeoning progressive rock movement, while simultaneously delivering quite a trip to those inclined to such things.

The albums highlight is, at least for me, the seven and a half minute "The Death Trip" which, as the title implies, chronicles a man's journey into the afterlife. Apart from being spooky as all get out, it also rocks really hard. The climax has the singer screaming "I see the light!" over swirling and majestic Hammond chords, and is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. The closing track, "The Sorcerer of Isis," is similarly dark, although not quite as intense, with Eastern influenced guitar lines and mystical lyrics. The band's singer cites it as best capturing their live sound. "In The Night" is a personal favorite, and although a pretty straightforward rock song, it touches on the Devil and things that go bump in the night in a very satisfying way.

The rest of the album is filled out by capable, if somewhat mainstream, hard rock and the obligatory flower power hippy lovefest "Green Grass and Clover." While not a masterpiece, this album is a solid slab of seventies hard rock/psychedelia, and ranks a good deal higher in my book than Iron Butterfly's debut. It is sure to please fans of Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Atomic Rooster.

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