Review: Dozer ‘Drifting In The Endless Void’

I wrote a retrospective piece on the much-loved Swedish four-piece Dozer nearly three years ago, over which time expectation and interest have only deepened at the prospect of new material from the band. Finally, after nearly fifteen years since they announced their hiatus due to vocalist Fredrik Nordin wishing to return to school to complete his Masters degree, this has become a reality with new the seven-track slab of stoner rock delight that is Drifting In The Endless Void released via Blues Funeral Recordings as part of their PostWax series.

Dozer 'Drifting In The Endless Void'
Dozer ‘Drifting In The Endless Void’ Artwork

Before we delve into the album itself, it is worth pausing to say that in this day and age, it is hard to keep a sense of perspective; internet feedback ranges from the wildly loyal and reverently unrealistically evangelical or the sneering cynicism that sees certain portions of the fanbase declare anything bar early releases as shit.

Evidence of this can be seen industry-wide in the scene and to compound matters for Dozer, Drifting In The Endless Void is their first new material since 2008’s towering Beyond Colossal, which whilst critically lauded, its darker themes and pensive contents was received more cooly by some corners of the devout.

Adding further complications to this is the looming shadow of Tommi Holappa’s ‘side project’ Greenleaf. A band which, at various points, has seen three members of Dozer in the ranks and has steadily amassed no less than five albums since the flag was last flown for Dozer, the reception of which has often lived in the shadow of his ‘other band’ and undoubted bares some symbiosis in the songwriting.

This is a long-winded (as ever) way of saying it is important to keep some sense of perspective, which could be an article in itself.

As for their new album, it begins with that familiar clear ringing guitar tone of Holappa’s lead work, ably joined by the fuzzy rhythm work of Nordin, the grinding bass of Johann Rockner and the pounding toms of Sebastian Olsen. So far so Dozer.

As the band crash into the heavy-weight riffing of Mutation/Transformation (a fitting title if ever there was one), the track is a thunderous mid-paced introduction. It is not the high-octane punk-infused proto-metal attack of a Supersoul or The Hills Have Eyes, but by the time Nordin’s gruff vocals issue forth and drenched in echo effects, you would be hard to deny that it might not necessarily be the Dozer you imagined, but it is the Dozer 2023 needed.

The stop/start dynamic gives the album a powerful, moody intro that captures the feel of elements from their last album and as this gives way to the preview track Ex-Human, Now Beast. The tentative beginnings grow in power with a lumbering faster pace that can draw comparisons to Greenleaf, before the huge chorus of ‘All my choices are made’. Given the Euro stoner scene is experiencing some great momentum at the moment with the likes of Tidal Wave, the urgent rush re-establishes them as a vital injection of energy and comes with the chef’s kiss of a sublime guitar solo.

Ignore the hype, take it for what it is and fall in love with Dozer all over again…

Dust For Blood might just be my favourite tune of 2023 thus far. Starting with a classic snaking groove, and falsetto vocals that will appease older fans, it teeters on the dream-like before exploding into a danceable and insanely catchy refrain. ‘Everything’s so wonderful’ indeed.

This frenetic pace drops for the eery-sounding Andromeda. The downbeat, atmospheric and psych heavy shift has a heady feel that perfectly sets up the impassioned full-throated cries and histrionic soloing. Taut and focused, the darker vibe offers the perfect juxtaposition to the previous track’s delirium.

The tension continues momentarily with the teasing start to No Quarter Expected, No Quarter Given before the band rumble into full swing that takes the aggressive edge of their 2006 opus Through The Eyes Of Heathens, yet keeps it bubbling under the surface as the metronome beat morphs from playful, to more considered haunting lyrics. Possibly the least accessible tune on the album, it is one that requires multiple listens for everything to sink in.

Run, Mortals, Run! does not suffer that problem. As close as the band come to a ballad on the album, it oscillates between the drifting ethereal and the muscular desert dry rock outs that have rightly won them the accolades that sees them mentioned alongside the likes of Kyuss and Fu Manchu in the pantheon of stoner greatness.

The final haunting strains of Missing 13 heralds the longest, most spaced-out entry in this comeback story and is an eight-and-a-half-minute surreal trip full of expertly handled build and release. Slow burning with echoes of Led Zeppelin-like progressive experimentation, the track manages to bridge the gap between the light and shade. Whilst not musically a direct comparison, this powerful sign-off with its ringing reassurance of ‘It’ll be okay’ concludes their sixth album on a similar note to Wavering Angel on Cave In’s triumphant Heavy Pendulum return.

To circle back to my opening sidebar for a moment, it is easy to get lost in the excitement of the fact that Dozer are back producing new music; hell I was absolutely giddy about it and pre-ordered the vinyl before even hearing more than Ex-Human, Now Beast. They are spoken of reverently and have been sorely missed, however, fifteen years is a long time and expecting them to write In The Tail Of A Comet again is like expecting Metallica to write Hit The Lights tomorrow.

The band and times have changed, and so has their audience. Drifting In The Endless Void is a superb album, one cut from a different cloth by the same tailor. I’m not going to tell you that it is their best entry yet, but it is the album they needed to make, and on repeated listens, it contains many deep cuts that will reveal new favourites over time. Ignore the hype, take it for what it is and fall in love with Dozer all over again.

Label: Blues Funeral Recordings
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden