Zozobra – Unreleased Tracks

5 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Caleb Scofield

Released after Caleb Scofield’s passing; two unreleased tracks recorded after Bird Of Prey.

I don’t want to mislead and suggest that I was greatly affected by the death of Scofield, which isn’t meant to undermine its impact on fans of his music, or to those who were close to him; just that it feels disingenuous for me to frame this as “what a loss” when I was only ever a casual fan. But if I didn’t have any of that context, and I only knew of Zozobra from their releases and then stumbled across these recordings, I would be saying “what a loss” strictly based on the material: Zozobra rocked, but in a rather predictable fashion. With the addition of drummer Aaron Harris on Bird, their second release, the formula tightened up immensely and got more expressive. While it still felt somewhat limited by Scofield’s single-range yelling and the type of pacing / riffs that were favored, it was a really promising hardcore release. And these two songs – Predatory, Planet of Ice – follow that trend of improvement, pairing one intense all-out rocker (Predatory) with a track with true layers – Planet of Ice – the kind of song that finally busts out of a typical format and gives Zozobra a stand-out identity. Viewed as an A-Side / B-side single, the pairing is perfect, as isolating Zozobra’s “typical” intensity highlights how solid this duo was, and then gives us a glimpse of how some experimentation really could’ve been leveraged for something special.