ZOZOBRA breakdown

Somewhere between the massive gritty riffing of sludge and the pissed-off fury of hardcore lies Boston’s Zozobra, a project started in 2006 by Cave In and Old Man Gloom‘s Caleb Scofield. Initially concerned with more upbeat atmospheric sludge along the lines of Baroness and Intronaut, the project has since turned towards powerviolence levels of aggression, not out of place on a playlist featuring the likes of Nails or Early Graves. The band’s new album Savage Masters — out now on Brutal Panda Records — is the band’s most aggressive and blistering album to date. Scofield wrote up a track-by-track breakdown of the album for us, which you can read below.

Zozobra – Savage Masters track by track breakdown


All these songs were written in very quick fashion, sometimes one song a night. We were getting together once a week still which was the typical cave in  schedule. With the approaching studio dates on the horizon we knew we had to make the most of our time. In the past with Zozobra I would sit down and write a song in its entirety, demo it and then share it with whoever I was collaborating with. This approach wasn’t something I was interested in repeating. It can become very tedious and tends to take the fun out of the creative process. When Adam and JR agreed to join the Zozobra alumni I knew I would finally have an opportunity to write with other people who could not only act as filters but bring there own ideas, riffs songs etc. to the table. It was a very collaborative and spontaneous few months and I think it has really helped to keep this material feeling fresh and exciting to us.

The Cruelest Cut

Coincidentally the first song we wrote for the ep. If memory serves me this may have been one of the few songs written entirely at home and then brought to the space for cultivating. I don’t feel like this is the strongest track but I do feel as though it really set the pace for the rest of the material. It was only after finishing this song that we realized we were going to try and write a far more aggressive , in your face record than what Zozobra has done in the past.

Venom Hell

This one was written later in the sessions. We had a few songs already in the box and I was feeling like adding just a little dynamic to what we had. This song is almost more of a boogie. In the vein of Queens or early Top. Complete with some smooth tambourine vibes from JR.  I love the idea of one riff songs but feel like I can never quite commit. The trick is in not even noticing that it’s only one riff by having slight variations that distract you from the fact that the bass and drums have been doing the same thing for way to long. Still though ,we ended up feeling like we needed a burner in there at the end to keep pace with the rest of the songs. The last riff that sort of comes out of nowhere just happened off the cuff but I feel like it’s probably one of my favorite moments on the record. On a side note this song will most likely never be played live. The vocal was created in the studio and I didn’t give any thought to how I would pull it off live and play the parts. Not talented enough.


This one was m.c. corn muffin’s lil baby. Adam brought in the two riffs ( yep, two riffs) and we made a song out of them. I love the guitar only intro. This was a contender for first song on the record. Ended up going with c.c but we were opening with deathless on the tour we did with Kowloon and it was real fun. It’s one of the more difficult songs to play for me personally as I think there might be like 5 or 6 notes I have to remember.

Black Holes

We would call this one the circle pit song before it had a title. This is one of the more punk sounding tracks we’ve ever written. I went for a Tom Araya circa seasons approach with the vocal pattern on the verses. The other main riff in the song is probably as technical as it gets on this record while still remaining rather discordant and unpleasant to hear. JR brings it on this one! so fun to hear him play stuff that’s a little out of his wheel house. And fun to watch him suffering by the end of it. This was one of the songs written form scratch in one practice. A blast to  play live but definitely a bit of a work out.

A Chorus Of War

Ha! This song actually started off as a joke. We were having a conversation about trying to write dumber, Just real crude , heavy stuff instead of trying to impress with well woven songs and transitions. Adam jokingly just started hammering at his guitar real loud and ended up playing in to what would be the main riff for this song. As soon as JR started playing over it it was apparent that it was no longer a joke riff. We were calling it the Sepultura riff for a while, sounds like it could be on roots, Total townie metal. The other parts are a bit heady but it’s nice to hear Adam go off on his pedal board now and again. Andrew Schnieder worked some nice magic spells in the studio for all those trippy parts. That man can turn some knobs.

Born in a Blaze

Holy closer. I’m not even sure what’s happening in this song but  you might want to  have a mop handy when it’s over. I’m not even sure what that means but it feels right. Can you tell I’m starting to get a little buzzed? I love that people want to read about this shit but man it’s tough to write about yourself without a couple drinks in the belly. Seriously though probably one of my favorite Zozobra jams to date. I love the kick through the chorus and the big Tom ending. This is one that we had reservations about at the end with just one guitar but I’m glad we left it that way. When Adam joins up with JR and I to send it home. Please.

Zozobra’s Savage Masters is available now on vinyl through Brutal Panda Records and digitally via Bandcamp. Stream the record in its entirety below:

– JR

One Response

  1. Lach

    Probably my favorite album ever, the gold standard of mixing and progression for me – short and and sweet, so interesting to hear Caleb and the band’s thought process. RIP.


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