Sound: Dozer may well be one of the best kept secrets in rock music. Formed in Sweden in 1995, the Stoner Rock quartet have to date released 5 studio albums, their latest being Beyond Colossal in 2008. Through the Eyes of Heathens was released in 2006 on Small Stone Records and features 44 minutes of fuzzy, overdriven goodness.
The men behind this gem of a band are Fredrick Nordin, covering vocals and rhythm guitar, Tommi Holappa on lead with Johan Rockner (an appropriate name) and Ollie "Bull" Mrthans bringing up the rear on bass and drums respectively.
Previous searches on this site have returned a criminally small amount of results for Dozer. At the time of writing there were two tabs and absolutely ZERO reviews, which is a great injustice for such a strong, creative band.
To give you an impression of how much attention Dozer seem to gather without ever really being noticed, both Troy Sanders of Mastodon and Neil Fallon of Clutch have performed guest vocals on two of their albums, they are frequently touring with more than 300 live shows underneath their belt and, as previously mentioned, they have 5 studio albums to their name. I write this review in the hope of drawing just a small amount of attention to this woefully underrated band.
Fans of Stoner Rock will immediately be drawn to Dozer. However, unlike Stoner Rock paragons Kyuss and other similar acts, Dozer keep the majority of their songs comfortably within the 3 or 4 minute mark. They create loud, punchy, driving music with thumping bass, obnoxious drums and guitars so fuzzy you could mistake them for Furbys. The end result is what I consider to be the concentrated essence of Stoner Rock; everything is loud, distorted and quite elegant in its simplicity.
Now, a track by track break down:
01. "Drawing Dead": opening with a great, powerful riff with some tasteful wah thrown in (barely audible above the fuzzy riffing), Nordin's vocals kick in, presenting a style somewhere between a melodic scream and a shout, but never sounding strained or even bothered which adds to the feel of the music greatly. The song trudges on for a 2 and a half minutes, with soaring choruses thrown in before the break down, at which point a simple but very, very impressive solo kicks in. A very strong track and a great opener.
02. "Born a Legend": opening with a riff that sounds familiar, but I can't quite place, the drums on this track are exceptional with some excellent little rolls here and there, keeping up the driving rhythm backed by a bass that is actually audible, but serves more as a vehicle for the music than a leading instrument. The song works on an excellent build up and release pattern, with the choruses going into overdrive and Nordin's vocals putting on a powerful performance. Again, an excellent bridge with some interesting guitar work followed by a short solo.
03. "From Fire Fell": the shortest song on the album and probably my favourite, packing in all the essentials of a good Stoner Rock track into a compact 2 minutes and 41 seconds. A driving riff, superb drumming and half screamed, half shouted vocals present a no frills, in your face song that will get your head banging, guaranteed.
04. "Until Man Exists No More": opening with what sounds like the ambient music from a horror movie, JUST before the victim gets brutally murdered and hung from the ceiling by their own intestines, this song is one of Dozer's longer arrangements at a whopping 5 minutes. Some solemn piano kicks in, then there's that familiar refrain where it all goes quiet and we know what's coming. A wall of sound hits you out of nowhere, huge riffs, aggressive drums and some neat guitar work buried amidst the fuzz. Then it all quietens down and Nordin's vocals are backed solely by a reverberating bass note and some minimalist drumming. The chorus explodes, it is simple, but brilliantly executed. Oh, also this song features guest vocals from Mastodon's own Troy Sanders, listen carefully.
05. "Days of Future Past": starting with only a mildly overdriven riff, the vocals kick in, sounding like they're somewhere in the back, sort of behind the music. A simple opening gives way to, of course, loud, ballsy guitars and trudging drums. I wouldn't say there was anything remarkable about this track however, it is done by the numbers and lacks a personality of it's own really. Not a bad song, but far from the best on the album.
06. "Omega Glory": opening with a rather good riff and some more solid drumming, this is one of those tracks that makes no excuses. It's powerful, simple and loud. The vocals are brilliantly done. Clocking in at 5 minutes, Omega Glory takes various twists and turns, each of which is well thought out and interesting, adding another layer to one of the strongest tracks on the album.
07. "Blood Undone": opening with a guitar riff in the left channel (I listen to all my reviews on headphones), this track builds up nicely, the rapid drumming comes in, then it all slows for a moments and, predictably, the vocals kick in. This track hosts some of the best drumming on the album in my opinion and paired with some great guitar work, picks this song up out of average and puts it into the good category. Solid song.
08. "The Roof, The River, The Revolver": opening with a good little riff, all devolves into fuzzy chaos just moments in. The entire song feels like a build up to the bridge, the vocals go crazy, the guitars get louder and drumming gets faster. Another strong track.
09. "Man of Fire": alright, here's a challenge for you. Listen to this song, really listen to it. Okay? Now, see if you don't find yourself singing the chorus to yourself ALL DAY. I did. The vocal melody on the verses is familiar, it sounds almost poppy, but it's been transplanted into the realm of rock with great skill. This song is simple, growling bass, simple guitar riffs and steady drumming carry along through the verses, with the chorus exploding into Stoner Rock bliss. The bridge sounds very much like another well known rock song that I honestly can't place. Second best song on the album. Also, Nordin's excellent vocal delivery in the last chorus is a nice touch.
10. "Big Sky Theory": last track on the album, clocking in at a staggering 8 and a half minutes, this song is perhaps a nod to bands such as Kyuss, with a little early Mastodon thrown in and it gives the band room to stretch their legs. Opening with the drums alone, it soon becomes a slow, sludgy affair. The vocals in the verses take center stage and do an excellent job. The song is a deliberate, slow-paced behemoth. The guitar riff that repeats during (what I assume to be) the chorus is simple but effective. A great closer to a great album. // 9
Lyrics: For the most part, Dozer's vocals are so buried in the fuzz and distortion that it's hard to make out the lyrics. However, I think that adds to the overall sound of the album brilliantly. They become an instrument in themselves. Times when they really shine are on the songs "From Fire Fell," "Man of Fire" and "Big Sky Theory". Nordin's talents are admirable and his style is reminiscent of the sort of "I can't be bothered, I'll just half-sing" style popularised by the likes of Kurt Cobain and Eddy Vedder. There's also a touch of Mastodon's Brent Hinds thrown in for good measure. They are sometimes droning, sometimes soaring, but never strained and never over-produced. Alright, clearly there is some reverb and other effects thrown in, but it all serves to add to the large, spacious, driving sound that Dozer have mastered.
The lyrics in themselves aren't anything special, but I always hear people saying the lyrics are the least important part, in which case you'll be pleased with Dozer. As I've mentioned, they take a back seat, becoming part of the overall sound as opposed to the focal point. However, when they do come to the forefront, odds are you'll be singing along. The lyrics won't get you questioning your existence or contemplating life, but they do what they're meant to excellently. // 8
Overall Impression: In summary then, Through the Eyes of Heathens is a great album, a brilliant album that slipped under the radar and went almost unnoticed. Containing an homage to a great number of rock groups out there, whether it be Kyuss, QOTSA or Mastodon, a little bit of each of them can be heard in Dozer's music. Dozer won't surprise you with odd time signatures and wanky guitar solos, there are no virtuosos here, but each member is a master of his craft and the end result is a brilliant, no holds barred, 45 minute Stoner Rock rollercoaster. I'd highly recommend it to anybody, even my dad is a fan, and he's nearly 60. // 9