Drifting In The Endless Void

Blues Funeral
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Mutation / Transformation
02. Ex-Human, Now Beast
03. Dust for Blood
04. Andromeda
05. No Quarter Expected, No Quarter Given
06. Run, Mortals, Run!
07. Missing 13

They arrived slightly late to the stoner rock party, but DOZER were obviously the real deal from the start. Their debut album, 2000's "In The Tail Of A Comet" sounded like a perfect encapsulation of everything that made the genre great. Clearly the work of musicians who had spent a good deal of time listening to KYUSS (and probably FU MANCHU) while getting baked, it was widely and rightly hailed as a genre classic, on a par with the likes of LOWRIDER's "Ode To Io", released that same year.

The Swedes have been sporadically present ever since, producing four more full-length records and always sounding like the essence of fuzzed-up heaviness rather than mere copycats. "Drifting in the Endless Void" is DOZER's first album in 15 years, which goes some way to explaining how much the band's sound has expanded since 2008's aptly named "Beyond Colossal". Fans of straight-ahead stoner rock will be thrilled as usual — DOZER's guitars still rasp away with maximum overdrive — but these songs offer far more than a bunch of cool riffs glued together with spit and beer.

There are a few moments when "Drifting in the Endless Void" will transport the listener straight back to the '90s, and to KYUSS and MONSTER MAGNET's classic records in particular, but DOZER's songwriting sensibilities have mutated and matured too. "Mutation / Transformation" and "Ex-Human, Now Beast" showcase their expanded remit. This is still stoner rock by design and execution, but with brighter colors and sharper edges.

"Mutation / Transformation" stutters into life, rides on a blissed-out, low-slung groove and ticks all the desert rock boxes in one go, before taking a mid-song detour through freewheeling gothic haze, beautifully setting up the inevitable re-entry of those huge riffs in the process. "Ex-Human, Now Beast" is a whirling, tribal jam, with shades of CAVE IN's deconstructed hardcore and a strident, soaring vocal hook. Likewise, "Dust For Blood" is more rumbling goth rock than anything with direct links to the SABBATH-ian motherlode; "Andromeda" begins with elegance and restraint, before someone flicks the space rock switch and the riff machine kicks into gear.

Elsewhere, "No Quarter Expected, No Quarter Given"'s tense throb evolves into a hypnotic cyclone of anguish and bad juju; "Run, Mortals, Run!" is too angular to be stoned, and too far out to be remotely predictable; closing epic "Missing 13" delivers the expected, psychedelic payoff, but with a disarming, melancholy undertow. DOZER still know where the bongs are kept, but "Drifting in the Endless Void" reveals a band that have transcended their roots and found a smarter and deeper way to shine.

Author: Dom Lawson
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