Duuude, Tapes! Dozer, Universe 75 Demo

Posted in Buried Treasure, Duuude, Tapes! on July 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A band’s early days are often a mishmash of releases, songs cobbled together from rehearsal recordings and put out as demos with live tracks from shows or different sessions. A few songs are copied for friends one week, and the next a demo is professionally pressed under the same title. That’s just part of promoting a new band. You try and get as much out there as possible. As such, when I opened the mail and found this surprise copy of Dozer‘s 1998 demo, Universe 75 — the tape gifted to me unexpectedly by Lansing, MI’s Postman Dan, who’s come up around these parts a few times over the years and will again before the next week is out — it wasn’t a shock to discover that its tracklisting differed from what’s largely been settled on as being Universe 75.

I know the story behind this tape, know that Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa sent it to Dan when Dozer were putting out their early material, that it came with an orange flyer that had Han Solo on it firing a blaster the laser of which was the Dozer logo, and if you can’t trust Postman Dan, you can’t trust nobody, so its authenticity is without question as far as I’m concerned. I damn near wept when I opened the package and found it.
What’s commonly regarded as Universe 75 has six tracks, and this tape — dubbed onto a Maxell 100-minute blank cassette, though of course it reaches nowhere near that mark time-wise — has four. “Supersoul,” which opens, is the only song shared between the two. It and “Captain Spaceheart” — written in the liner here as “Captain Space Heart” — also appeared on Dozer‘s 2000 full-length debut, In the Tail of a Comet, while “Centerline” and “Tanglefoot” showed up later in 1998 on the first of the two Dozer vs. Demon Cleaner split releases.

At this point, Dozer was Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall, and these songs were recorded at the end of Jan. 1998 by Bengt Bäcke — here given the nickname “Action.” Of course, he’d come a long way by the time he was continuing to work with Holappa in Greenleaf and tracking that band’s albums, but even in ’98, Bäcke knew what he was doing. The sound of the tape is raw, and the bass is way, way high in the mix, but overall it’s clear enough to get a sense of the songs and where Dozer were coming from stylistically in some of their earliest days, Nordin sounding more directly indebted to Kyuss‘ John Garcia than he even would by the time In the Tail of a Comet was released, and the band seeming to work at full stonerly jamble on “Captain Space Heart” only to up the swing as “Tanglefoot” closes out.

As a longtime nerd for Dozer (obviously not as long as the Postman), I felt incredibly fortunate to hear these songs at all, let alone to be able to sit with them and think of them in context of the Borlänge four-piece’s pre-debut-LP progression. They were prolific as they solidified their sound, and over singles, EPs and splits with Demon Cleaner and Unida, they honed a reinvented — maybe “relocated” is the word? — take on what was then desert rock that of course would turn them into something different entirely over their years together, which hopefully aren’t done as they continue to play shows periodically. A snapshot of one of Sweden’s greatest contributions to heavy rock as a young band is something genuinely special, and I know I’ll cherish it in a cool, dry place for years to come and use it as fodder while I continue to campaign for a compilation of their pre-album material.

Dozer, “Centerline”

Dozer on Thee Facebooks

Dozer’s website

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Friday Full-Length: Dozer, Call it Conspiracy

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Dozer, Call it Conspiracy (2002)

I think I’ve made my nerddom for Swedish heavy rockers Dozer plain over the years, but if not, let me just reinforce: The band fucking rules. From their early albums on Man’s Ruin, 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet and 2001’s Madre de Dios right on through the harder edged 2002 Molten Universe third outing, Call it Conspiracy, and their Small Stone era, which brought about 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens and 2008’s Beyond Colossal. All the splits, EPs, singles, etc., along the way, Dozer simply don’t have a bum release. There was no point at which they didn’t kick ass.

When it comes to Call it Conspiracy, I’ve always thought of it as the transitional moment for the band. Based as ever around the powerhouse riffs and full-speed charge of guitarist Tommi Holappa and Fredrik Nordin (the latter also vocals), Johan Rockner‘s bass and the driving thud of then-drummer Erik Bäckwall, Dozer‘s songwriting always made them a mandatory band, head and shoulders above most acts proffering heavy rock and roll then or now. But Call it Conspiracy stands out in their catalog as the bridge between the first two and the second two albums, moving away from the Kyuss loyalism of their beginnings and at the same time setting up the progression into bigger tones and a more generally bombastic sound on records four and five. It’s the center-point along that line — in output, not time; the first three Dozer albums were released in three years, the last two in twice that — and very much stands up to that stylistically. In that, it’s unlike anything else they’ve ever done. It was a leap from Madre de Dios for sure for arriving the next year, and when Through the Eyes of Heathens showed up three years later, Dozer had moved even further away from desert rock. Call it Conspiracy was a moment captured — like a snapshot of Dozer coming into their own as a band.

And while I already said it, I’ll reiterate that the songs themselves are unfuckwithable. The rush of “Rising,” the swagger of “Man Made Mountain,” the way “Crimson Highway” seems to invite a sing-along even when you’re hearing it for the first time. Dozer have been making periodic live appearances since last spring, and they released the Vultures EP (review here) last year, collecting unused tracks from the Through the Eyes of Heathens sessions, but as Holappa (Obelisk Questionnaire here) has been busy with Greenleaf — whose fifth album, Trails and Passes (review here), came out earlier this year — there’s been no word of a studio return from Dozer. Needless to say I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Hope you enjoy.

Up until today, I was doing really well with the rules I’d posted last week that I was trying to live by while The Patient Mrs. is in Athens. It’s 9:30PM and I haven’t left the house in two days. I knew that was gonna be a tough one when I wrote it, but was hoping I’d be able to keep up. Today and yesterday, neither the time nor the desire nor the need to go anywhere has been present. I might get in the car and drive around for 10 minutes when I’m done here, so at least I can say I did something, but otherwise, yeah. Been a lot of the couch, not a lot of not the couch. The little dog likes it.

Next week, reviews of Dunst and Grifter. It’ll probably take me two days (at least) to transcribe it, but I’m going to try to get the Lowrider interview up as well. Look out for another batch of Radio adds, and one way or another, some vinyl’s getting written about. I still need to hook up my stereo. You’d think that would’ve been a day one activity moving into the new place, but all the CDs are still packed away as well.

Trying to find a new high-volume CD storage solution. I was looking at some radio station library racks online and I think something like that might be the way to go, but I have no idea where one acquires such a thing, let alone what it might cost. But yeah, I’m thinking it might just be time to buy a shelf that lets me store 18,000 CDs and then just fill it over the next however many years. In case you’re wondering, I’d probably take up a little more than a third of that now. I don’t know if you knew this, but in addition to the stuff I buy, I keep everything sent to me for this site. I don’t sell promos, or give them away, or anything like that. Every single CD that’s been sent to me, regardless of if it’s a CDR in a slimline or a sleeve or a full-art jewel case, gatefold digipak, whatever, it goes in the archive. I keep it all. Tapes and vinyl too. And not in some random pile either. It’s taken care of. Loved. I can’t nearly write about everything that comes in these days, but I hold onto everything. Even the press releases. Seriously. I’ve got files of them.

Got off on a tangent there. Anyway, I hope you dig the Dozer and that you’ll join me in my letter-writing campaign to Tommi Holappa to get the tracks from their first several singles released as an early works compilation à la Church of Misery. I was thinking about starting one of those White House petitions. Get Obama on the case.

Alright. I’m gonna go get in the car and wander aimlessly for a bit so I can say I did. Hope you have a tremendous and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 EPs, Demos and Singles of 2013

Posted in Features on January 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been trying to get this one on the page for a couple weeks now — really since last year if you want to go back that far — and I finally just decided to do it. Granted, it’s already 2014, but I’m pretty used to being behind the times, so I hope you’ll indulge me on this one.

The thing is, of course we already did the Top 20 Albums of 2013, but that leaves an awful lot out in terms of quality shorter releases. Demos, singles, EPs, splits — whatever it might be — there’s a lot more to the story of a year in music than who’s putting out what full-length. That might be true now more than ever, with digital releases and artists having the ability to more or less give a song-by-song feed of new material should they so choose. Since this is the first time I’ve done this list, I’ve kept the presentation pretty basic, but there’s a lot to dig into here anyway in terms of the quality of the music and what people were able to accomplish in, in some cases, just one or two tracks.

My basis for judgment here is basically the same as with the full-albums list, and by that I mean how much I listened to something played a huge role, and it’s not just how important I think an EP or a split or a demo was that got it included on this list — though of course that stuff matters as well. Like spelling, repeat listens count. And it goes without saying these are my picks and have nothing to do with the Readers Poll, the results of which are here.

Okay, let’s do this:

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2013

1. The Machine/Sungrazer, Split
2. Dozer, Vultures
3. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide
4. Black Thai, Seasons of Might
5. Wo Fat/Egypt, Cyclopean Riffs Split 12″
6. Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
7. Shroud Eater, Dead Ends
8. Steak, Corned Beef Colossus
9. Geezer, Gage
10. The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado 7″
11. Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground
12. King Buffalo, Demo
13. Groan, Ride the Snake
14. Crypt Sermon, Demo MMXIII
15. Stubb, Under a Spell b/w Bullets Rain 7″
16. Salem’s Pot, Watch Me Kill You Tape
17. Undersmile/Coma Wall, Wood and Wire Split
18. Second Grave, Antithesis
19. Sinister Haze, Demo
20. Olde Growth, Owl

Honorable mention has to go to the Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man split, C.O.C.‘s Megalodon EP, which was right on but which I didn’t really hear enough to include. The Gates of Slumber‘s Stormcrow as well.

Just a couple notes: In the case of Olde Growth, putting them last was actually more about not being sure when the official release date of Owl was than anything else. I actually listened to that quite a bit, and “Tears of Blood” remains my favorite work of the duo’s to date. In terms of demos, it was a good year for doom debuts, with Crypt Sermon and Sinister Haze both showing some malevolent classicism, and King Buffalo‘s demo grew on me almost immediately upon hearing it and right away made me look forward to whatever might come next from them.

I was a little hesitant to put a split in the number one spot, but The Machine‘s riff for “Awe” alone made it necessary. I’ve kept this disc on my person for almost the entire year and continue to have no regrets in doing so. For Dozer, yeah, it was a collection of older material, but I still enjoyed the crap out of it. Both Mars Red Sky and Black Thai signaled considerable creative growth in four-song EPs, and the Wo Fat and Egypt split more than lived up to its mission. The riff lives in bands like that, and as we get further into stylistic nuance and subgenre development, it’s those groups who are holding on to the Heavy.

Young Hunter are one of the most promising bands I’ve heard in the last three years. Flat out. Killer release. Ditto that in a much different context for Shroud Eater, whose take on heavy only got more sinister and more effective with Dead Ends. Steak emerge as tops among the five British bands — a quarter of the list! — here. Their Corned Beef Colossus also had the best title I heard all year, and though Trippy Wicked, Groan, Stubb, and Undersmile/Coma Wall (the latter earning bonus points for putting out a split with themselves) all thrilled, Steak‘s potential got them that spot. Time for a full-length, guys.

Not to leave out New York — though the geographical alignment is a coincidence — Geezer‘s Gage tapped into a jammier feel that I thought suited the band remarkably well, and The Golden Grass‘ debut single offered one of the most charming irony-free good times I’ve heard in a long while. The Salem’s Pot cassette was one of my most-listened-to tapes this year, last mentioned but not at all least, Second Grave‘s Antithesis probably would’ve clocked in higher if I’d had more time with it, but was definitely one I wanted to put in here anyway.

As I said, a lot of really astounding shorter outings, and worthy of attention in their own right. If I missed anything, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments.

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Tommi Holappa of Dozer / Greenleaf

Posted in Questionnaire on December 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Tracing their roots back to 1995 and releasing their first album on Man’s Ruin in the form of 2000’s classic In the Tail of a Comet, Dozer have proven to be one of the most enduring and influential names in Swedish heavy rock. After releasing their stellar fifth album, Beyond Colossal, on Small Stone in 2008, the four-piece went on hiatus. In that time, guitarist Tommi Holappa focused on his other outfit, Greenleaf, who put out Nest of Vipers (review here) as one of the year’s best in 2012. After performing there with Greenleaf last year, Holappa returned to Desertfest in 2013 with a resurgent Dozer, and this year the band also released a split 7″ on Transubstans with NYMF and a digital EP, Vultures (review here), culled from demo tracks recorded prior to 2005’s brilliant Through the Eyes of Heathens.

Dozer are slated to continue playing live shows into 2014 (accompanied by Lowrider as they were at Desertfest), and Greenleaf have a new full-length in progress as well, set for issue in the New Year. Enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Tommi Holappa

How did you come to do what you do?

Discovering KISS when I was around seven or eight or so is what started the whole thing. That’s when I got interested in rock music. And when I was 14 I got my first guitar and the rest is history! But yeah, you can blame it on KISS why I’m in this rock and roll business now.

Describe your first musical memory.

I have really vague memories of seeing Elvis on TV, I must have been like two or three years old or something. I also remember getting my first vinyl, it was a Muppet Show vinyl. This must have been around the same time.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

This is impossible! I have too many good musical memories! It’s really hard to just choose one. Here’s just a few things that come to mind: Getting my first guitar, Getting the first record deal, Recording for the first time, Touring for the first time, Hearing Sky Valley with Kyuss for the first time (and seeing them live), Seeing KISS live when I was young. I could make this list endless with all the good bands I have seen and records I have heard over the years!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I can’t come up with anything at the moment.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To a happier life.

How do you define success?

To go on tour and people show up to see you play your music!

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

KISS live earlier this year! Actually the show wasn’t too bad but Paul Stanley has totally lost his voice. You could really see it in his eyes how much he was suffering on stage.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A space rock album! It would probably sound something like Hawkwind meets a satanic Pink Floyd.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Summer!

Dozer, “The Blood is Cold” from Vultures (2013)

Dozer’s website

Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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Desertfest 2013: Live in London Vinyl Compilation Released

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

As Desertfest 2014 continues to take shape, the bi-city festival announced today the release of a new vinyl compilation, Desertfest 2013: Live in London. All tracks were recorded live at this year’s fest, and whether you were there or not, you should be able to appreciate exclusive live recordings from Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man, Unida, Truckfighters, Lowrider, Dozer and House of Broken Promises recorded there. One can only hope this is just the beginning of many Desertfest documents to come.

Info and links — you know the drill:

***** DESERTFEST ‘LIVE IN LONDON AVAILABLE NOW ****

Good news Friends, The Vinyl has arrived at DF Towers and its looking and sounding super slick..Those that have pre-ordered should start to receive their copies next week..If you are yet to order your copy, we are running an XMas special where you can purchase a ticket to DF14 & the Vinyl for just £95..1st 30 orders receive a free poster too…

you can watch the latest promo video here

Desertscene are pleased to bring you ‘ Live In London ‘ a Special Coloured Limited Edition LP. Recorded live at London’s renown 3 day Stoner/Doom festival ‘Desertfest’ in April 2013!

The Record is out now and you can order your copy here.

The track listing features some of the best bands from the Stoner, Doom and Desert scene such as Unida, Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man. Mixed by Harper Hug in Palm Springs this heavy weighted compilation is a unique and collectable item for anyone in the scene.

We have limited it to a 12″ Vinyl only meaning it will not be available in any other formats.

TRACKLISTING:

UNIDA – STRAY
FATSO JETSON – FLAMES FOR ALL
YAWNING MAN – DARK MEET
TRUCKFIGHTERS – CHAMELEON
LOWRIDER – FLAT EARTH
DOZER – RISING
HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES – HI-WAY GRIT
COLOUR HAZE – TEMPEL

Xmas Special £95:
http://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/4054/XMAS-SPECIAL-Desertfest-2014-Vin

Vinyl Only £20:
http://desertfest.bigcartel.com/

Desertfest 2014 ticket £85:
http://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/3843/Desertfest-2014

Desertfest 2013: Live in London Promo

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Lowrider and Dozer to Play London in February with Steak Supporting

Posted in Visual Evidence on September 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t at all mind saying that watching Lowrider‘s reunion set followed immediately by one from the reactivated Dozer at this year’s Desertfest in London was one of the high points of my personal 2013. Two bands I thought I’d never see — first one because they didn’t exist anymore and the other because of geography, then both because they didn’t exist anymore — in a one-two punch of Swedish riffly right-on-itude. A boulder could’ve fallen on my head and I wouldn’t have cared at that point. It was incredible.

For anyone who’d dare live the experience for themselves, DesertScene — the same folks behind Desertfest — are presenting a return performance from the two bands in February 2014 at The Garage in London with ascendant stoner natives Steak opening, and while I doubt I’ll be able to make it out to the show, what with that ocean in the way and all, there’s nothing to say I can’t stare at Peder Bergstrand of Lowrider‘s poster for hours on end and wonder at the awesomeness to come.

Wistful sigh:

Lowrider, “Convoy V”/”Ode to Io” Live at Desertfest 2013

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audiObelisk Transmission 029

Posted in Podcasts on August 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Been a while, right? Tell me about it. Although I love, love having The Obelisk Radio streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I’ve been wanting to bring back podcasting for a while now. I always thought it was fun, it just got to be time consuming and to be perfectly honest, the response over time took something of a shit.

Well, the idea here is to start with a clean slate. Anyone who’s listened to audiObelisk podcasts before will notice this one doesn’t have a title. There’s no theme running throughout — though I wanted to keep it focused on new stuff as much as possible — and though others ranged upwards of four hours long, this one clocks in at just under two. I gave myself some pretty specific limits and wanted to start off as basic and foundational as possible. I haven’t done this in a long time, and it seemed only appropriate to treat it like a new beginning.

Something else I’m keeping simple is the intro, so with that said, I hope like hell you download at the link above or stream it on the player and enjoy the selections. Here’s the rundown of what’s included:

First Hour:

Mystery Ship, “Paleodaze” from EP II (2013)
Carousel, “On My Way” from Jeweler’s Daughter (2013)
Ice Dragon, “The Deeper You Go” from Born a Heavy Morning (2013)
Black Mare, “Tearer” from Field of the Host (2013)
Beast in the Field, “Hollow Horn” from The Sacred Above, The Sacred Below (2013)
11 Paranoias, “Reaper’s Ruin” from Superunnatural (2013)
Vàli, “Gjemt Under Grener” from Skoglandskap (2013)
Beelzefuzz, “Lonely Creatures” from Beelzefuzz (2013)
Dozer, “The Blood is Cold” fromVultures (2013)
Toby Wrecker, “Belle” from Sounds of Jura (2013)
Shroud Eater, “Sudden Plague” from Dead Ends (2013)
Luder, “Ask the Sky” from Adelphophagia (2013)
Eggnogg, “The Once-ler” from Louis (2012)

Second Hour:

Colour Haze, “Grace” from She Said (2012)
Borracho, “Know the Score” from Oculus (2013)
The Flying Eyes, “Raise Hell” from Split with Golden Animals (2013)
Demon Lung, “Heathen Child” from The Hundredth Name (2013)
Vista Chino, “As You Wish” from Peace (2013)
Across Tundras, “Pining for the Gravel Roads” from Electric Relics (2013)
Black Pyramid, “Aphelion” from Adversarial (2013)
Church of Misery, “Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)” from Thy Kingdom Scum (2013)

Total running time: 1:57:54

Thanks for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 029

 

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Dozer, Vultures: Before the Eyes of Heathens

Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Excluding a limited split 7″ with NYMF that heralded its coming, Vultures is the first outing from Swedish rockers Dozer in five years since they released 2008’s Beyond Colossal. That album, their fifth and second for Small Stone, became the capstone on Dozer‘s career when an indefinite hiatus was announced Fall 2009. After guitarist Tommi Holappa and drummer Olle Mårthans and bassist Johan Rockner played together (the latter on guitar) as part of the Greenleaf lineup for 2012’s triumphant Nest of Vipers album (review here), with TruckfightersOskar Cedermalm on vocals and bassist Bengt Bäcke, who engineered Dozer‘s first two albums and worked with other formative Swedish heavy rockers like Demon Cleaner — not to mention a guest appearance from Dozer guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin on that record’s closing track — it was announced Dozer would return to the stage at Desertfest 2013. This was a welcome surprise even after Greenleaf played there in 2012 — Dozer‘s set was preceded by a Lowrider reunion in London and it has been one of the high points of my year so far — and while the immediate next question was when Dozer‘s next studio release would surface, Vultures arrives as a semi-complete answer to the question. Recorded in 2004-2005 at Rockhouse Studios in Borlänge, these six tracks were used as pre-production demos for what would later become the fourth Dozer album, 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens. They arrive here with a mastering job from Karl Daniel Lidén (who may or may not also play drums on them) and cover art by William Ede as a digital-only-for-now 26-minute EP that at very least shows Dozer have a continued interest in being Dozer. And if Vultures is a stopgap issued in order to keep their name in the minds of their fans while Holappa continues to write and record with a partially-revamped Greenleaf lineup, being one of those fans, I’m more than happy to take it. The Through the Eyes of Heathens era was a pivotal one in Dozer‘s progression, continuing the shift from the desert-style heavy of their first two albums — 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet and 2001’s Madre de Dios — that began to show itself on 2002’s Call it Conspiracy and pushing Dozer‘s style to individualized territory not yet heard from the band.

In any case, after five years, it was high time Dozer got something out, and Vultures provides a fascinating look at their creative process. For one thing, the songs are remarkably put together despite their “demo” tag. I don’t know for sure if Bäcke engineered this recording — he helmed their first two records and prior demos at Rockhouse — but from the sound of the tracks, I’d believe it. Nordin‘s vocals are layered, the drums have a crisp pop to them, Rockner‘s bass rumbles with fuzzy conviction and the guitars layered and driving in that style that was so quickly becoming Dozer‘s own at this point in their career. Dozer would ultimately take to Seawolf Studios on an island off the coast of Finland to record the final album, and it’s perhaps most curious of all that not one track from Vultures was used in full. There are pieces here in songs like “The Imposter” and closer “To the Fallen” that one familiar with the finished record might be able to recognize, at least in spirit if not note-for-note, but nothing on Vultures was directly ported to Through the Eyes of Heathens. The effect this has is two-fold. First, it makes the new EP that much more of a new release — it is genuinely unheard material. Second, it makes Vultures even more intriguing as a look into Dozer‘s creative process. Was this something that had never happened before, that the songs took such drastically different forms by the time they were finished? Was the original intent to get these tracks on tape so as to write new material using them as a base to work from? What was it about a song like opener Vultures “The Blood is Cold” that didn’t make the final cut, or was it not even an issue of that, and rather, the band knew all along these tracks wouldn’t be on the record but wanted to have them documented anyway for just this future purpose? These questions abound, but what’s most pivotal about Vultures as a standalone release is that it captures Through the Eyes of Heathens-style songwriting with production more akin to Madre de Dios and In the Tail of a Comet, making it a wholly unique entity within Dozer‘s catalog, which if it needs to be said, is one of the finest and most essential the Swedish heavy underground has ever produced.

Read more »

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