Review Summary: The creative output of Cave In and Old Man Gloom bassist proves to be more than just a side project that rekindles previous works, but also possesses great potential.
Among the fans of early Cave In
, a common curiosity has likely passed through the minds of many since the drastic reinvention of their sound. What would the band sound like had they not sacrificed their metal influence from the riff-based debut Until Your Heart Stops
for the later accessibility of the Creative Eclipses
EP or Jupiter
? The answer to this question lies in Zozobra, the direct result of Cave In
and Old Man Gloom
bassist Caleb Scofield. First conceived in 2006, hardly a year would pass before Scofield's vision would materialize itself within his songwriting, production, and eventual signing to Hydra Head records, through which all of his bands are produced. Santos Montano, also of Old Man Gloom
, would come to contribute on drums for the project, leaving the two the freedom to solidify the songs before getting into the studio for the record's legitimate tracks. Upon the new year, Harmonic Tremors
was born and Zozobra would find itself en route to touring live alongside Isis
Right from the start, Harmonic Tremors
unleashes itself without hesitation in a manner that, naturally, is reminiscent of Scofield's previous experience. Particularly, the monstrous tone of his bass chugging immediately draws parallels with Cave In
's most recent Perfect Pitch Black
, without the stark contrasting of earlier sound against newer and separate musical ambition. The feeling that the record conveys is as though it would not be out of place at all if it were the response for Until Your Heart Stops
, in which their raging metal explosiveness first began to meet with the potential of progressive ambiance. Though it is likely unintentional, the medium between the two allows Scofield to create something that hints at familiarity but most importantly doesn't come off as recycled. Harmonic Tremors
manages to achieve this in that the bass, though nostalgic, finds itself with a much heavier accentuation, as opposed to Stephen Brodsky
's guitar work absorbing a significant amount of notice. The fact that Scofield provided sparse vocals with Brodsky in Cave In
doesn't hurt the likeness either, but his growling, at times bellowing register and clean harmonies add yet another minute factor that plays largely into the favor of Zozobra's own sound.
While it is true that the record comes off as something that would lean closer toward the metal genre, there are at best only slight instances of any cliches associated with it. The musical goal seems to be met on each song, fluctuating in a way that keeps it interesting without coming off as sporadic or segmented. Montano rarely shows off or tries to be flashy, but instead provides consistent, effective drumming that complement Scofield's bass riffing and does not distract from the way in which the album progresses. Despite the absence of any pounding double-bass or syncopated drum rolls, the first two tracks, The Blessing
and Kill and Crush
still bear a heavy weight with straight-forward, booming melodies. Levitator
abandons the frontal assault and conjures up the similar intermediary breath of the segues found throughout Until Your Heart Stops
before rising back to the energetic Soon to Follow
, in which Montano now fuels the intensity and Scofield addresses the track's hooks with clean sung vocals.
opens with a gritty, crawling introduction that could easily lead the unknowing ear to anticipate an epic Isis
track, with the eventual addition of Scofield's clean vocals returning and coasting atop the glooming bass line. Bursting forth with from its fade out, the erupting Invisible Wolves
transitions into aggressive attack with intensity similar to that which could be found on Thrice
. Scofield's growl has returned by now and by this time has further distorted in the brooding march of Peripheral Lows
, a song driven forward by a persistent, pounding drum rhythm played by Montano that refuses to relent until the track finds silence.
In something that sounds as though it has been inspired by one of Stephen Brodsky
's floating, guitar centered interludes, The Vast Expanse
does as its name implies and expands itself over the next few minutes. A steady groove is introduced into an array of guitar work and into the controlled cataclysm of Scofield's bass and shouted vocals. Caldera
further elaborates on the progressive elements briefly encountered by unwinding ethereal harmonies within a field of effected noise, all of which encompassing the continuing thunder that is Scofield and Montano's musical chemistry. Those who remember Cave In
's Decay of the Delay
off of Antenna
may draw a resemblance in the structure with, of course, the accentuation placed into the bass instead. A much more relatively mellow A Distant Star Fades
will also bring to mind tracks on Jupiter
as the vocals revert to a clean drifting melody in a song that resolves all the preceding chaos to a more quiet conclusion.
For Caleb Scofield, Zozobra and its Harmonic Tremors
may be just a side project at first glance, it may be the missing link from the Cave In
evolution that only surfaced now from his mind and in his hands, or it simply may be the result of a strong combination of impressive influences that have inspired its existence. I have come to think that it is all of those and still more, as his creative authority has permitted him to do as most bands do and produce something he genuinely enjoys. It has also opened the possibilities of greater individual success and, without question, the potential growth of an already solid sound into its one entirely of its own. I'll be waiting for sure, as I am certain that Scofield will again contribute in one way or another to something that is just as enjoyable, and I highly recommend others to take note as well.
Soon to Follow