Review: Dozer ‘Vultures’ EP

I’m sure there are some who would disagree, but for me Dozer are the band that defined the sound of the flourishing stoner rock scene in Sweden at the turn of the millennium. Their first two albums on Man’s Ruin Records (thankfully re-released since that label went bust shortly after Madre de Dios came out) are genuine classics and formed the blueprint for approximately three million Scandinavian bands who later decided to tune down and drop out. For a much more thorough and far better-written account of Dozer’s history I can refer you to the published works of my fellow scribe Mark HB, who wrote an excellent article last year.

Dozer ‘Vultures’

To everyone’s surprise, including my own, my nostalgic rambling actually has a point here as this ‘new’ EP from Dozer is a collection of demo tracks that the band laid down in 2004-05 as part of the pre-production for their fourth album Through The Eyes Of Heathens. For my money, that was Dozer’s finest hour: more expansive and progressive than their earlier works, but still plenty heavy and with oodles of groove and excellent tunes. Given that provenance, who wouldn’t be excited to hear some of the tracks Dozer laid down when preparing their opus?

Perhaps unsurprisingly given that these tracks were used as demos, the production isn’t quite as polished as on Through the Eyes of Heathens. That said, the overall sound is great and the slightly lower-fi production really works – it actually reminds me of some of their earlier albums.

My first reaction on listening to opening track The Blood Is Cold is that hearing something new (well, new to me) from Dozer after so long is pretty awesome. It also helps that this is an excellent track that could fit easily in on any of their albums. As you’d expect, there are plenty of heavy chugging riffs, which lead into a cool stop-start chorus. Fredrik Nordin’s vocals are as distinctive and strong as ever and demonstrates how the band could effortlessly summon levels of groove, melody and heaviness that were largely beyond the reach of their peers.

demonstrates how the band could effortlessly summon levels of groove, melody and heaviness…

After the opening rush though, I started to find that much of the EP is just missing something. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what that something is, as on the face of it there’s nothing obviously wrong with any of the songs here: there are no shortage of nice riffs and I’m not sure Dozer could manage to be unmelodic if they tried. But…The Impostor, Last Prediction and the title track all pass by without making much of an impression. Ultimately, they’re just not particularly interesting songs. To The Fallen is better – based around a simple bass riff it’s mellower in feel and really nails that desert-bound, stoner vibe that defines the genre.

The final track is a cover of Sunride’s Vinegar Fly. I’m going to guess that Sunride aren’t a familiar name to many of you, but they’ve a special place in my heart as one of the bands that first got me interested in stoner rock back in the day. Anyway, they hailed from Finland and released three albums in the early 2000s (they’re all good, but I’d personally recommend their debut The Great Infiltration to check out) and, perhaps ironically, I remember them being harshly tagged Dozer-lite on the old forums. Vinegar Fly is from their second album Through The Red and Dozer’s cover ticks all the boxes. They put enough of their own twist on it to make it worthwhile, but don’t muck about with it too much to spoil an excellent song.

To conclude, I found Vulturesto be a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand The Blood Is Cold and the cover of Vinegar Fly really stand out as excellent tunes, but much of the rest is a bit forgettable. There’s nothing terrible, but much of the record just lacks that spark that elevates most of Dozer’s output. As is often the case with this sort of release, it’s interesting to see where the band were at, at particular moments in their development, but you often feel that there was a reason why they chose not to release the material at the time.

If, like me, you’re a big Dozer fan then you’ll definitely want to check this one out. If not, then you might be better off investigating their studio albums first.

Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Instagram

Scribed by: Liam Blanc