Review Summary: The first hard rock album of the 70's falls short.
Sadly forgotten the midst of the hard rock scene from the 60's to 70's, The Power of Zeus never exactly had a good career, nor did the media realize what Power of Zeus did (created one of the first post-hard rock albums, maybe the only). After The Gospel According to Zeus
, the Detroit group never again made an album, but nowadays Gospel is a highly-sought after item, and a famous one for freakbeat and progressive fans. The drum beat from "Sorcerer of Isis" has been one of the most sampled in hip-hop music. Even though this was met with some brief success later on, Power of Zeus are still the most underrated group of the 70's, or the closest.
But, as with all bands, The Power of Zeus's first and only LP will definitely have its share of shortcomings. An example is the gospel-style lyrics at times. The rigidly consistent wailing of the vocalist in this album is certainly not a high point, as it comes as too high-pitched and annoying. It's not the most original album, considering that it is thought as the forgotten masterpiece of the early 70's, as there are influences of Iron Butterfly, Mountain, and Led Zeppelin laced in each of the songs.
The instruments, however, do a great job at capturing the great feel of the album. It sounds best when they get away from sounding like generic garage rock, and it sounds like the original mixing of melodic hard rock, psychedelic, and 70's post rock. The guitar melodies differ depending on the track, like the fast-paced nature of "Sorcerer of Isis", or the slower, more melodic "Green Grass & Clover". The drum work on the album is the best there, consisting of some crushing beats and quick-as-lightning attacks on each one. (Take the famously sampled drum beat in "Sorcerer of Isis", or the interesting, more heavy "Death Trip") The bass work, if you listen more clearly, is one of the most straightforward, but delivered in stronger positive packages, rather than negative. And the various instruments throughout the album, like harpischord, a tight organ, and rhythm guitar riffs, almost hypnotic.
The instruments are proof that Gospel According to Zeus is not without strength, even in the annoying vocals. I have to give credit where it is due to the production: unlike other CD (Cassette for the 70's) releases before it, this has a rather good sound. The heavy guitar tempos sound real crisp, as if it was from an experienced band under a major label. Although it doesn't have a lot of shifting themes, each one of the instruments sound great, and the production doesn't feel as outdated as it should for the low budget, and the time of release.
Not to mention the originality in Gospel According to Zeus is a little more different than the average bunch of hard rock bands at the time: with the different sound arragements and lyrical topics. Take the more eerie "Sorcerer of Isis", the best example of 'Psychedelic' on the album, about a tyrannical god, as how I would of viewed it. The more powerful "Death Trip" is as the title says, with a recurring theme of the afterlife. "Uncertain Destination" is about a man traveling a near-endless wasteland, not knowing where to go.
Gospel According to Zeus is a really good album, a bloody good one, but it is not without its faults, of course. The vocals in several of the songs is incredibly hard to get over, and considering the limited nature of some songs, such as the themes that never seem to switch in midtempo, According to Zeus is not Akarma's boldest statement or underrated jewel of the early 70's, but give it a chance: you'll realize that Power of Zeus's debut, and only LP, is an ultimately satisfying addition to hard rock in the 70's, as this is far from burnt and uninspired.
4 / 5
Joe Periano - vocals, guitar
Bill Jones - bass, vocals
Bob Michalski - drums, backing vocals
Dennie Webber - guitars, various instruments
Label: Akarma Productions, 1970
Sorcerer of Isis
The Death Trip
In the Night