September 9, 2008 | | 4

Zozobra, Bird of Prey

Like the mythic proportions of one Paul Bunyan, Zozobra’s sophomore effort Bird of Prey is a lumbering giant in its own right. Thick, fuzzy guitars chop away at the foundation of your senses with monolithic determination and sludgy riffs. Throw in Isis’ Aaron Turner on drums and you’ve got yourself a who’s who of Neurosis influenced mastery.

Pushing the progressive and spacier elements of the band’s previous release Caleb Scofield instead focuses the direction of Bird of Prey in a more straightforward manner and uses the album’s more experimental moments as additional layers — building a massive wall of heavy and distorted sound. There are some seriously crushing riffs mixed with spacey interludes to make this one hell of a listen.

A big scream and driving riffs accompany beefy drum work as the album opens up. Scofield’s gruff vocals are raw and fit the sludgier sound well and the cleaner backing vocals are layered in at just the right times. This thing goes full bore right from the start and doesn’t let up until the track ends a solid three minute later.

Heavy With Shadows
A rolling bass line like thunder in the distant gets this one going with some nice distortion and fuzz. There’s an aggressive feel to this one, but also contains some slick melodies and spacey elements that, when combined with the fuzziness factor makes it a stand out track on the album. There are some seriously thick and thunderous riffs and heavy assed drums after the two minute mark. Great chorus as well.

After a brief silence Scofield gets back into it with more heavy guitars and bass lines. I love the primary riff to this one — very catchy. There’s some great grooves throughout this track.

Heartless Enemy
The opening to “Heartless Enemy” is melancholy and slow building. The initial guitar work is pretty damned slick. Even as the vocals come in, the lighter drumming, guitar noise and bass work real well together at the slower, more methodic pace. Layered backing vocals that are much cleaner than Scofield’s own add a nice depth to the song.

Big Needles
“Big Needles” fades in smoothly from the end of the previous song with a massive amount of static and droning noise. The addition of light keyboards give this barrel of industrial sludge a little cohesiveness as it progresses to it’s end.

Sharks That Circle
I love how the transitions between the last three tracks has gone. More sludge fueled catchy riffs dominate this one as it plunders your skull with massive distortion and thundering drums. The layered vocals and rolling drums at the two minute mark are freakin’ awesome.

In Jet Streams
Following the reverb that closed out “Sharks That Circle,” this next track starts off with some nice bass work as guitars work their way into the mix. Layered vocals and textures pile upon themselves to deliver this one with a rusty shovel. I Love the rawness to the deeper, more guttural vocals that end the song.

Laser Eyes
Spacey guitar noise dominates the first two minutes of this final track before thick bass and measured drums come in with the Scofield’s gruff delivery. More noise and reverb complete the album with an appropriate finish.

~ ~ ~

There have been a few releases this year that have that distorted, fuzzy guitars with buckets of sludge muffling the sound, but Caleb Scofield’s Zozobra seem to take it to the next level. Incorporating elements of prog and drone, Bird of Prey is soaring well above our heads waiting for you to let your guard down, before plunging from unseen heights to take you out. I love this disc.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: