Hydra Head Records.
If you are like me, that association is enough to pop in whatever album it may be by whatever artist it may be. Because more often not, you are in for some sort of treat. Whether or not you actually enjoy that treat is up to your own musical taste of course, but Hydra Head Records, at least for me, is definitely one of those record labels who set the bar very high for musical ingenuity. Some of the most obscure noise comes from that label, but, if you are like me, and you enjoy obscure noise coming out of your speakers, than you are sure to enjoy Zozobra’s debut album Harmonic Tremors.
Zozobra is a side project of Caleb Scofield (Cave In / Old Man Gloom) and Santos Montano (Foresnsics / Old Man Gloom). Harmonic Tremors is a merry-go-round of doom metal ridden on the flaming horses of Scofield’s growl and some absolutely devastating guitar riffs. The album starts off with the harmonious soft crooning and relatively soft guitars (definite Cave In sound here) of “The Blessing.” It’s a rather upbeat song, one of the more bright and smiling tracks on the album. That is until about four minutes in, and the soundtrack to the post-apocalyptic world that Zozobra seems all too fitting to live in kicks in. Everything slows down and everything gets heavier. The end of “The Blessing” previews what is truly the overbearing weighty nature of Harmonic Tremors. While tracks such as “Soon to Follow” and “Kill and Crush” do exactly what the latter suggests, little atmospheric moments in “Leviator” are peppered throughout; it doesn’t lighten the overall mood, though. These atmospheric moments have all the pressure of sitting at the bottom of the ocean with those creepy fish with lights on their heads.
Harmonic Tremors is one of the most appropriately titled albums in recent memory -- beautifully harmonious at times, and at other times sounding like you are in the earthquake of the century. The Cave In comparison is incredibly prevalent throughout the entire album, to the point I wish there was less Cave In, more Zozobra. The last track “A Distant Star Fades” falls victim to this and portions of it can seem like I accidentally popped in Jupiter. It's understandable considering the band's background, and fortunately the track more than makes up for it with its epically epic ending (one of the most epic of the year, really; I know, it's late January, but come back in 11 months and I’ll still be right), but at times I still wish Zozobra had more of its own distinct identity. Because when it’s chugging along, with some incredibly simple yet incredibly heavy riffs, led by Scofield’s scream, Zozobra is the soundtrack to the death of the whole world, and I’ve never been more willing to welcome death with open arms.