Thursday 4 April 2013

REVIEW: Zozobra - Savage Masters (EP)

By: Lucas Klaukien

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 2/4/2013
Label: Brutal Panda Records


“Savage Masters” DD//LP track listing:

1) The Cruelest Cut
2) Venom Hell
3) Deathless
4) Black Holes
5) A Chorus of War
6) Born in a Blaze

The Review:

What can one say about a six song EP that will probably play out before you’ve finished reading this review? Well, quite a bit, because it’s a killer! Before listening, make sure you’ve got room to throw yourself around like a rag doll in, because this is extreme music that needs to be cranked and thrashed about to.

The main man behind the savagery is Caleb Scofield, bass player for the bands Cave In and Old Man Gloom. Interestingly, Zozobra is the name of a 50 foot tall marionette that is burned every year in New Mexico and whose name means ‘Anxiety’ but is also known as ‘Old Man Gloom’. The annual ceremony is meant to burn festival-goers anxiety, worries and/or gloom in effigy, freeing their minds from all their worldly troubles for the coming year. Zozobra is Scofield’s creative outlet for self-penned material, the band is his own personal effigial vehicle for creative release. And when that creativity is released, duck and cover brothers and sisters, ball up and lie still because the onslaught is furious indeed.

“The Cruelest Cut” sets things in motion and if what these three Bostonians do is brutal, then they raise the curtain on a gallery of punishment in a ruthless manner. Just as soon as the play button is pressed you’re dropped into a cage in a Russian prison with six hungry wolves and left to fend for yourself.

It’s hard to call this EP anything but an assault, the bass is thunderous, stalking predatorily across the 15 minute length of the release. The guitars and drums chew up the very souls of those in the mosh pits, stealing their energy then releasing it back onto the remnants of the crowd in search of the next victims. The vocals are pissed off and powerfully gusted from a fiery belly, an acidic cauldron of souls.

“Born in a Blaze” closes out the affair, but not before leaving a strong impression. Muted squeals and pile driving rhythms create an entirely different experience than anything else on the record. Aside from being the most varied, dynamic and otherwise different cut, it’s also the sludgiest. It’s this disposition towards the sludgy side of the equation that makes the difference on all of the songs. The sludge factor wins the day for this release by taking what would typically be stock punk thrashy beats and slows them down a touch, forcing drummer JR Conners (also of Cave In) to be creative, laying down interesting beats that are full of power and not just rely on pure speed.
Six short tracks of equal potency, ‘Savage Masters’ lives up to its brazen title, a furious outburst of flying fists and cliff side shoves. The bass tone is just about the heaviest, thickest sounding thing out there, it’s got some real girth to it. Now, I don’t normally do the hardcore thing, or anything that even really resembles the genre, I’ve just never been a big punk guy. About the closest I’ll go is a doom band with hardcore style vocals like fellow New Englanders Set or the old Black Pyramid. I make an exception for Zozobra not because I’ve broadened my musical horizons, but because this band just kicks that much ass. They play fast and heavy, short songs with tazmanian devil-like vocals just like a million other bands out there. Zozobra is just better than those countless others. That’s all there is to it, they’re just better than everything else I’ve that touches upon the genre.

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook