Dozer, In the Tail of a Comet (2000)
One might look at In the Tail of a Comet, the pivotal first LP from Sweden’s Dozer, as the closing chapter in a larger movement within heavy rock. Released by Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records in 2000 following the band’s initial series of splits with Demon Cleaner and Unida, the album followed landmark debuts like Acid King‘s Busse Woods and Natas‘ Delmar, both issued by the same label in 1999, as well as the first Queens of the Stone Age and Alabama Thunderpussy (both 1998). Granted debuts from Orange Goblin (1997), Colour Haze (1995) and Electric Wizard (1995) also preceded, but in the post-Kyuss surge of heavy rock, by the time 2001 came around, this league of bands would be past first records and onto the work of developing what became a golden age of riffs. Dozer were a huge part of that process in Europe, and In the Tail of a Comet was the beginning point of a stylistic progression that got more charged over the years that followed.
The roots of that are audible in a song like “Cupola” and elsewhere, but the overarching vibe of In the Tail of a Comet is pure desert-style fuzz, very much in the vein of later Kyuss and the style that Man’s Ruin helped foster through releasing works from Suplecs, the Desert Sessions and some of the aforementioned. What really distinguished Dozer from the outset — and what would continue to distinguish them as guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (also principal songwriter in Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner and then-drummer Erik Bäckwall moved forward — was the songwriting. From opener “Supersoul” through “Lightyears Ahead,” “Speeder,” “Riding the Machine,” “Captain Spaceheart” and so on, Dozer‘s debut stood them out whether they were galloping through “Cupola” or swinging through the crashes of “Grand Dragon,” and where many at this point seemed to be getting their bearings, Dozer burst out of the gate with a collection of songs that helped shape European heavy rock and still ripples out its influence today.
I’ve had arguments back and forth about the merits of In the Tail of a Comet vs. Dozer‘s second album, 2001’s Madre de Dios or their 2003 third LP, Call it Conspiracy (discussed here), but the truth as I see it is they never stopped pushing forward in any of their releases, whether it was those or 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens and 2008’s Beyond Colossal (both on Small Stone), the latter of which stands as their most recent outing. Picking favorites is fun, but as their sound became more complex, Dozer never lost the core of craftsmanship that one can hear writ large over In the Tail of a Comet, and that would seem to make the entire body of work all the more admirable.
They’ve played shows sporadically for the last few years and hit the 20-year mark this year, and I keep my fingers crossed they’ll get a new LP out at some point. With Holappa concentrating on Greenleaf as a full-time band — they recently secured a US booking agent — that seems less likely in the near-term, but one can hope at some point they follow-up Beyond Colossal, because as anyone who heard that album can tell you, they still sounded like a band with more to say.
I did an interview this morning with Tom Geddes in the UK for The Desertfest Podcast that will be posted sooner or later from them. It was a Skype kind of deal, just Tom and I doing a lot of back and forth on how we got into music, some bits about writing, the book, the All-Dayer and so on. Mostly I think we talked about bands, but I love talking about bands, and especially with someone as knowledgeable as Tom, that’s all the more a pleasure. I’ll let you know when the podcast with the interview goes live. Not that you need to hear me run my mouth, but you know.
Also some interesting job news that I’ll talk more about next week, but that’s eaten up a lot of my consciousness for the last day or so. We’ll see how things shake out over this coming holiday weekend. Sorry to be vague, there are just some ducks to get in a row.
Thanks again to everybody who has ordered a copy of the book so far. The post office lost an entire box of signed copies — there were like 60 in it, minimum — so I’ll have more going out this weekend and will be following up on the lost ones to either find them or have more printed with the insurance money from the shipping. I was pissed either way. Still am, for all the good it does me.
Next week: I’ll be posting on Monday, even though it’s a holiday in the US. Plenty of international stuff to write about. Look for a review of Hijo de la Tormenta, followed by one Tuesday for the Earthless/Harsh Toke split, which is out now. Valley of the Sun and Stars that Move are the next two reviews on the list after that, but the plan for this week completely changed as we got into Wednesday and Thursday, so who the hell knows what might actually happen. Not gonna worry about it today. Point is, there will be rock and roll.
Speaking of, The Obelisk Radio broke a new record for listeners-at-one-time today. Thank you if you were a part of that or if you’ve ever checked it out. The Dozer record is done so I’m listening right now and it just went from Beast in the Field to Witch. Seriously some of the best money I’ve ever spent, putting this together. Tell your friends.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re celebrating Memorial Day, I hope that celebration doesn’t involve unthinking jingoism — that is, not just remembering why we send our children to die in war, but to whose benefit — and I hope at very least after thinking about that, you’re still able to enjoy the day off. Me? I’m splitting out of the office early and headed to the beach, because you’re god damned right I am.
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