Release DetailsLABEL Hydra Head
RELEASED ON 8/5/2008
Bird Of Prey
posted on 9/2008 By:
Metal’s a genre in which lyrical meaning is often lost in the chaotic shuffle of the music itself, so band names and song titles take on significantly more import than they do in many other styles. Unless you’re an unusually comprehensible metal vocalist, you’d better get at least some of your point across via monikers. Zozobra are amongst those who do so quite effectively. Bird of Prey is effectively the second ‘solo’ release from Caleb Scofield, who played previously in both Cave In and Old Man Gloom—both the latter name and Zozobra refer to an enormous effigy burnt during the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe in New Mexico. Further drawing out the continuity between the two bands is the newfound presence of Aaron Harris, who’s contributed his solid drumwork to both Old Man Gloom and ISIS. Aside from Harris’ drumming, this is effectively a one-man show, as Scofield holds down guitars, bass and vocals himself. For once, a band with a sole creative personality doesn’t yield an indulgent mess, as Bird of Prey is a taut and disciplined—if uninventive—chunk of sludgy goodness.
Scofield was a bassist in Cave In and Old Man Gloom, and he doesn’t make a secret of it here. Bird of Prey’s most immediate feature is its massive bass presence; his tone is gravelly and thick as the Earth’s crust. The bass is the driving force in all eight tracks here, even more so than the guitars, which actually tend to disappear into the bass at times. Also noteworthy is the surprisingly terse songwriting—contrary to his more expansive post-metal roots, Scofield keeps virtually every song at or under the four-minute mark. The results are condensed, tightwound, and relentlessly heavy. The effect is something like a really pounding noise-rock band (think Unsane) wielding the sonic tonnage of the recent ‘post-metal’ explosion, driving their tangled songwriting deep into the ground.
This approach produces both successes and drawbacks. On one hand, Bird of Prey delivers as consistent of a sonic drubbing as any album of the like since Zatokrev’s Bury the Ashes. On the other hand, its very direct nature renders many of its songs interchangeable. The only respite is provided by the slightly more meditative “Heartless Enemy,” with which its empyrean guitar figure and drifting pace serves as the album’s centerpiece, and droning followup “Big Needles.” Further, Scofield’s vocals are more or less a liability; he possesses a reliable clean voice but mostly leans on a bland, nondescript bellow that adds little to the knotty grooves.
A full, girthy production from drummer Harris tops off the package for Zozobra. If it wasn’t clear, I do enjoy this disc. The band simply heaps up too many big grooves in not enough time and without differentiation—honestly a little more breathing room a la the aforementioned “Heartless Enemy” would’ve done wonders for Birds of Prey. Ultimately, this’ll satisfy a craving for some hearty, slightly drugged-out rockin’, but I personally don’t expect to return to it.
Register to post comments.