Zozobra – Savage Masters

In a lot of ways, Zozobra will always be looked on as just a side project for Cave In bassist Caleb Scofield but considering the quality of the two albums that were produced (Harmonic Tremors and Bird of Prey) you can make a valid point otherwise. But with a near five year gap since Bird of Prey and the re-emergence of Cave In during that time, it would have been fair to think that Zozobra were going to be on the shelf for some time, yet here we are in 2013 listening to their new record, Savage Masters.

Zozobra’s albums have always been terse and succinct affairs but they appear to have made a rather conscious effort to keep Savage Masters much shorter and faster than before, clocking in at 14 minutes. Where 2008’s Bird of Prey was by no means a leisurely record, it was not afraid to utilise the slower sludgier elements of say Eyehategod to counteract the rapid hardcore riffs of the record. Savage Masterson the other hand, has no give whatsoever and is much more a hardcore record than previous albums.

The early hardcore sensibilities of Cave In have definitely seeped into Zozobra’s sound on this one, but this is still a record imbued with sludge of the south, merely upping the pace. Vocally, Caleb Scofield sounds every bit as vicious as he did before. His vocals are instantly recognisable with a devastating throaty bellow that’s often imitated but never matched. On Savage Masters, he’s absolutely ruthless, exhausting himself to keep up with the pacier riffs and results are simply brilliant.

On the final track, ‘Born In A Blaze’, he continues the onslaught with no give, delivering his best vocal yet and ending the record on a bludgeoning high. This may only be 14 minutes but there’s ferocity here of albums twice its length.

Short, sweet and to the point. That’s Savage Masters.

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