The recent news that two classic Dozer albums, Through the Eyes of Heathens and Beyond Colossal are due for reissues via Heavy Psych Sounds took me back to when I first discovered the Swedish stoner rockers and found myself sinking deeper into the depths of stoner rock, doom, and heavy metal. There's a certain amount of nostalgia attached to Beyond Colossal for me: back then, music just felt different. Every album I listened to was new and fresh, and I had titans of the classic era unlistened to, ready to discover. But beyond those memories, it and Through the Eyes of Heathens are fantastic albums that easily hold up to the heaps of stoner rock that followed, cutting through the crop like two painstakingly sharpened scythes. Through the Eyes of Heathens is a high point for the raw fury of stoner rock, but Beyond Colossal demonstrated how refining that intensity didn't tame it into mundanity: it elevated all the things that made Dozer's sound so compelling in the first place. Through the following decade-plus, they've stayed fresh enough in my mind that revisiting them and my early days of music discovery took little motivation.

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Every generation has had a different experience discovering music, compared to those that came before and after them—the rapid growth in music's availability and quantity has driven insane change. For myself, I really got into metal seriously around when I started college in late 2007, leaning heavily towards doom in the years that followed—thanks, Guitar Hero 2, for including The Sword's "Freya".

I'd left my metal-knowledgeable friends at home heading to college, so it was up to the Internet to guide me in my journey. It was an era slightly before music recommendation algorithms but right as RateYourMusic and Encyclopaedia Metallum were catching on, which meant that discovering a genre was a strange combination of crowdsourced information, sketchy internet destinations, and taking advice from pompous forum users (still an option today, but I don't recommend it). Streaming was rare, so whether or not I had a way to listen to an album before purchasing it was basically up to the mercy of what I could find in the wastelands of the 'net. It was still much easier than the past—tape trading, etc.—but there was also an increasingly large volume of junk to fend off.

The bands and albums that I discovered during this time, cobbled together from notable releases, various recommendations, and my completely arbitrary picks from online distributors, have stuck with me, shaping the core of my musical taste. Some of them were questionable, but others are permanent staples that continue to impress to this day.

Dozer was one such selection, recommended by denizens of stoner rock forums that I came across. Intrigued by the fact that Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon guested on two tracks and armed with zero knowledge beyond that, I picked up their then-recent album Beyond Colossal from AllThatIsHeavy.com along with a few other choice picks in July 2009:

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(Note: though for the life of me I don't know where any of these CDs are, I do still have and cherish that Burning Witch shirt.)

Neil's vocals are indeed great, and his appearance on the album feels much less like a cameo than it does an essential part of the formula. However, the fundamentals of the album are what captivated me, generating near-endless spins as I processed everything it had to offer. At the core of Beyond Colossal is great songwriting, fusing melodic riffs with bombastic drumming that always seems to leave room for vocalist Fredrik Nordin to croon over, delivering lyrics that obliquely touch on the same emotions that the rest of the band is busy conjuring.

These key elements weren't new to the album, though—they had been iterated on since the band's founding in 1995 all the way up to their previous album, 2005's Through the Eyes of Heathens, which saw the band taking on new drummer Karl Daniel Lidén.

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With Through the Eyes of Heathens, the band sharpened their stoner sensibilities into a noisy, furious approach that somewhat eschewed subtlety and simplicity, layering on more elements and dialing up the intensity of guitar and bass tones. It still retains the emotional impact and cohesive narrative of Call It Conspiracy, their previous album, but even the softer and slower songs drip with rich, dense layers of tone and sound.

It may be the heaviest the band ever got, in terms of sounding like stoner metal rather than stoner rock, though that applies only for certain tracks. "Until the End of Man" closes out with a monster of a riff and guest vocals from Troy Sanders of Mastodon, whose recognizable voice clinches the devastating impact of the song's latter half. The treble-rich tones on much of the album also feel, compared to Beyond Colossal, rougher and sharper—an aggravated scream into the void versus the practiced rhetoric of the follow-up. There are hints of where their sound would lead, in tracks like "Blood Undone," but much of the album is tonally distinct. "The Roof, The River, The Revolver," which packs an up-tempo groove and a spaghetti-western atmosphere, is a standout track that also slots into the riffiest and heaviest of Dozer's material.

Beyond Colossal came with another drummer shift: this time, Olle Mårthans stepped up to the throne. Upon that throne, he reigned, delivering what must be the premiere Dozer drum performance: from the opening track's flashy intro until the end of "Two Coins for Eyes," Olle maintains an insane commitment to groove and lightning-quick fills, often packing them into the album's verses in nearly obscene quantities. Thanks to the mixing and his precise approach, it never feels busy, just satisfying—and when a truly barebones beat is required, such as in the bafflingly-simple-yet-ridiculously-hard-hitting hook of "Two Coins for Eyes," it's delivered squarely in the pocket.

The shift to warmer and richer tones on Beyond Colossal is something like a maturation of their sound, as if they polished their sonic package into statuesque, polished marble. It almost feels untouchable at times, as if the true artistic intent behind it is incomprehensible by mortal minds. That feeling fades, though, as it wraps you deeper into velvet-like folds of overpowering fuzz and top-notch song writing. "Exoskeleton (Part II)" is where the album 'clicks' for me, taking the power of "The Flood" and using it to generate dramatic peaks and valleys. Cascading avalanches of drum fills roar behind the chorus's mighty riffs, while on the verses Nordin's vocals impart emotional heft among lower-intensity guitars.

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"Empire's End," taking a note from "Until the End of Man" off the previous album, brings in Neil Fallon on guest vocals to close out the song, his own style shining through and reinforcing the track's noble slant. I will admit, though, that the younger me was disappointed that his role on this song and "Two Coins for Eyes" were less than full-song features.

The album closes out with a markedly different tone than the rest of the album, and from the rest of the band's career—which is especially poignant given that it's effectively the last song from their last full-length and over a decade old now. Subtle and captivating guitar parts and basslines lick at the spacelike wash of a Hammond organ, eschewing drums entirely. The final line of the song is oddly fitting as well, foreshadowing the band's hiatus in 2009: "I know where to go now, inside my tomb."

Fortunately, it's just a song lyric, and Dozer are up to some interesting things these days, including these reissues and some of their older albums to come later in the year. I'm ever hopeful for new Dozer music, but I'd also take a U.S. tour, so I'm glad to see stirrings in their camp and a potential kindling of renewed interest towards them in the stoner rock and metal communities, both of which have things to love within their discography. Through the Eyes of Heathens and Beyond Colossal will forever stand as blazing pillars of greatness for me, showing the blinding potential of a genre that I would spend the next decade discovering further.

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The Through the Eyes of Heathens reissue will release on February 19th, 2021 via Heavy Psych Sounds.
The Beyond Colossal reissue will release on February 19th, 2021 via Heavy Psych Sounds.