Zozobra
"Bird of Prey"

(Hydra Head Records 2008)Zozobra - Bird of Prey

For better or worse, musicians' solo work will always be compared to their former bands. In some cases, the two can be compared quite favorably; after all, things worked out pretty damn okay for Ozzy post-Sabbath. In other cases, the new material is a pale shadow of what came before. See: everything that anyone who used to be in Guns n' Roses has ever done (this includes the Axl n' Friends debacle that is "Chinese Democracy"). At any rate, this is probably the point in most reviews of the new Zozobra album that the writer will helpfully inform you that Caleb Scofield is/used to be in the on hiatus/defunct/whatever Cave In.

Scofield does all of the heavy lifting on "Bird of Prey," as he is responsible for all of the vocals and instrumentation, with the exception of the drums. That duty falls on Isis' Aaron Harris, who also produced the album. Eschewing Cave In's controlled chaos, Scofield instead favors a more direct approach here. Zozobra fills "Bird of Prey" with enough low end to choke an elephant. It starts with a bass fit to plumb the depths of the Marianas Trench, and gets rounded out with monster guitar riffs that sound like the bastard spawn of Isis' heavier moments. The result is something akin to a more simplified Intronaut, before they went all crazy prog recently.

One of the more commendable aspects of the album is that (other than Harris) Scofield is flying solo here. When one guy makes an album trying to sound like a whole band, it often sounds exactly like one guy trying to sound like a whole band. Without other band members to riff off of and contribute, one man's bad idea can sink an entire album. Scofield avoids this trap, and "Bird of Prey" actually sounds like the collaborative effort of a bunch of musicians. While this album isn't going to make anyone forget that it was made by the guy who played bass on "Until Your Heart Stops," it could have been a whole lot worse. It could have been made by Buckethead.

B

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