In hindsight, Zozobra's Caleb Scofield (best known as Cave In's bassist/screamer) probably should have settled upon 'beast of prey' as the title to this album. For "Bird Of Prey" feels far too precise and graceful to match up with the lumbering, hard-hitting dirges this effort repeatedly tramples the listener with. A seemingly unending procession of adverse lethargy marked by almost sinister malevolence, Zozobra readily sound like an extremist sect of the 'Cult Of NeurIsis' with Botch and Cave In patches on their robes.
Such a description isn't all that shocking given that Aaron Harris of Isis fame handles the drums for this opus. What may raise eyebrows though is that "Bird Of Prey" was originally set to be the debut outing from Heatseeker - a new collaborative project from the above-mentioned duo. Perhaps realizing that Cave In's genealogy is already prolifically convoluted enough though, this effort was wisely absorbed into the Zozobra brand.
Lineage aside, "Bird Of Prey" espouses the heavier moments of Zozobra's past output while shackling down the spacey/proggy ambitions to a more atmospheric role. By mixing these two traits together more coherently this time around, an engaging dynamic is attained and the songs also gain more personality. Interestingly though, while still guitar-centric, the lion's share of songs feel rhythm-driven; seemingly built around rigid, serrated bass lines that capture the same sense of understated menace Alice In Chains did with "Would?".
Emboldening this characteristic with towering prog jams and ethereal electronic manipulation sees these rhythmic instincts pay off substantially. It also finds the aggression of the material seeping through in a more terrestrial nature than it would had it been guitar-based. Chockfull of tastefully short songs, forceful hostility and forward-thinking musicianship; "Bird Of Prey" should have no problem culling the bloated herds that comprise the modern metal scene.
(4 / 5)