Review Summary: Truly colossal and grand in its sonic attack and delivery, this is one of the most impressive stoner metal albums of the last decade.
Swedish Dozer are regarded as one of the most acclaimed acts in the underground stoner metal scene. The genre is known for its inclination towards fuzzed-out, low-tuned guitar sound as well as heavy, yet groovy rhythm section, both convincingly patented in the early 1990s by such bands as Kyuss and Sleep. This is the style from which Dozer has grown. While being generally enjoyable, their first two albums "In The Tail Of A Comet" (2000) and "Madre De Dios" (2001) were based on the standard stoner rock patterns and found the band lacking in their own identity. Released in 2003, "Call It Conspiracy" showcased the band in search of their own style being a straight-up hard rock record that brought their first hit song entitled "Rising." Afterwards, things only got better for Dozer as the band crafted their own signature stoner sound with "Through The Eyes Of Heathens" (2005), widely regarded as the band's best release incorporating catchy melodies into the galloping guitar oozing hooks. With their latest release "Beyond Colossal" they go even further as far as exploring new teritory and experimenting are concerned. In consequence, the album is way more layered than your typical release in this derivative genre.
The title couldn't be more fitting as the band opts for epic sound by introducing strong doom metal along with progressive influences into their music. While the opener "The Flood" presents a more traditional Dozer with fast Black Sabath-influenced riffing and a hint of psychedelia thrown in, the second track "Exoskeleton, Part II" is way more complex relying on a haunting chorus and excellent tempo changes. This new approach is perfected in "Two Coins For Eyes", a mournful anthem that transforms into a mindblowing hurricane of sound in its high-octane bridge. The progressive aspect not only permeats in the longest tracks on the album though. As regards psychedelic touches, "The Ventriloquist" starts slowly with bass chugging and distorted vocals that build to a massive climax benefiting from a heavy juxtaposition between strong melodic singing and heavy riffing. The doom metal of "The Throne" featuring a heavily distorted vocal melody follows suit.
The progress is not only evident in way more diverse song structures, but also in the entire band's growth as musicians. Tommi Hollapa's guitarwork ranges from ultra-fast heavy riffing (Empire's End, Message Through The Horses) to clean, bluesy desert rock soloing (Grand Inquisitor, Fire For Crows). The bass played by Johan Rockner is pleasently distorted, yet still audible and distinguishable from the crashing guitars, whereas drummer Olle Marthans delivers an intense performance filled with monstrous fills and rolls. The pitch-perfect production oscillates between a classic heavy rock sound from 1970s and modern resourcefulness. Fredric Nordin's singing gets more and more impressive with every record. His vocal delivery is never anything less than emotive and moving. He even retains the powerful screaming out of Dozer's previous effort. His considerable skills are arguably the most apparent in "Grand Inquisitor" in which clean singing in verses is contrasted with roaring in the chorus to an amazing effect.
Unlike the band's previous releases "Beyond Colossal" can be characterized by its dense, gloomy atmosphere supported by equally dark lyrics. "Empire's End", for instance, manifests its apocalyptic undertones in a vicious chorus that goes: "I am the seasons of the North / I am the demon from below / I am the dying and the grief / I am sustained by your relief..." Neil Fallon of Clutch fame concludes the song in his very own poetic fashion: "Bright borealis - Sounding of horns / March of the wanderers - Breaking of morn / Circles of aeons - Empire's end / Time has no malice - Smoke on the wind". The message of "The Throne" feels far more enigmatic and, thus, even more frightening as Nordin screams: "Despise what you know / Despise what you need, it's cutting our throats" throughout the song. "Bound For Greatness" only seemingly brings relief when the lines: "Confusion is over and I feel in bloom / I know where to go now, inside my tomb" are sung. This Hammond Organ-enhanced ballad is an excellent closer to this mammoth of an album.
To summarize, "Beyond Colossal" is a step in the right direction for Dozer showcasing the band that fearlessly aims at expanding their style. They succeed with this album creating an impressive monstrous sound that doesn't really signify the departure from memorable riffs and catchy, yet complex melodies. Truly colossal and grand in its sonic attack and delivery, this is one of the most impressive stoner metal albums of the last decade.