Getting visits from old friends can be fun, or they can be awkward. You either find you have a ton of things to talk about and miles of space to pull together, or you realize why you lost touch in the first place and don’t really feel any connection with the meeting. Either conclusion goes a long way toward informing you of how that relationship will exist in the future.
Same goes for music when you hear back from a band that hasn’t come up with any new material in a long time. It can be a strange situation as well because you have to decide if that band’s new music has a place in your world or if it doesn’t meet the needs you have in this day, in this form of human you have become, to make you feel what their early material did. Again, it can be as awkward and seeing an old friend, but you don’t have that personal interaction where you either embrace the current state of the relationship or you let it go forever. It saves you the tears, quite honestly.
When I got the promo for the new release from Zozobra, the creation of Cave In’s Caleb Scofield, I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the idea of having new music from the band. I like their first two full-lengths “Harmonic Tremor” and “Birds of Prey” just fine and listen to them when I’m in the mood for what they offer, but I was beginning to believe those collections could be the only things I’d have from the band. Now, five years after “Prey” dropped we get this new six-song, 15-minute release “Savage Masters” that gets right to the point and wastes no time leaving the surroundings in a burning heap. As worried as I was that my current musical atmosphere might not embrace a band I haven’t heard from in half a decade dissolved immediately and I wondered why the fuck I overthink this stuff so much. Just plug in and go, and that’s exactly what I did with this head crusher.
Scofield is joined by other members of Cave In on this record, namely guitarist Adam McGrath and drummer J.R. Conners, and the music is sludgy, pulverizing, uncompromisingly heavy, and seemingly ripped from the heart of a raging furnace looking to incinerate everything in its path. Yeah, it’s a collection of songs that are properly labeled by the album title, and it goes to show Scofield is just as hungry and punishing an artist as ever before.
The record kicks off with “The Cruelist Punishment,” a deep-dish serving of sludge and goo and muddy sheets of noise that are designed to overwhelm you and leave you with deep bruising and internal bleeding. “Venom Hell” has a rock and roll-style melody line that snakes through it, almost as if it’s taking some notes from the more fun aspects of Venom, and the throaty screams and cool guitar work make this one of the best songs on this collection. “Deathless” has a D-beat feel and is fast and in your face, with raucous rhythms and shrieky vocals that sound prepared to peel your face off. “Black Holes” opens with some thick bass lines before it ignites. There are howled lines about “the virus, the poison liquid” that don’t sound too friendly, and the groove-infested, bluesy guitar work is there to make the infection a little dirtier. “A Chorus of War” is a weird one, with guitars that sound digitized and a personality that’s alien and claustrophobic, but it’s also filthy and trippy. Closer “Born in a Blaze” lets the record burn off righteously, with fiery playing, grimy noise interference, and a tempo that breeds physical and psychological violence.
So yeah, it’s great to have Zozobra back, and after spending more time with “Savage Masters,” I’ve gone back and revisited their past work as well. This band needs to come back for visits more often because clearly they have a lot to offer the extreme metal world and its fans, and they do this style of metal as well as anyone. But if it takes them five more years to come up with something this good, I’ll guess we’ll just have to bide our time. Clearly the wait will be worth it.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/ZozobraOfficial
To buy the album, go here: http://brutalpandarecords.com/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://brutalpandarecords.com/