Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24: Dozer, "The Flood"

Artist: Dozer
Song: "The Flood"
Album: Beyond Colossal
Year: 2008

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As has been proven countless times over the decades, and mention many times in this very blog, simply turning everything "up to eleven" rarely results in a better quality of music.  While many bands believe that if they are louder, they are somehow being "more authentic" to their particular style of music, there is no substitute for talent and musical creativity.  Without question, the one genre where both of these theories have been proven time and time again is that of the heaviest of heavy metal, where one finds the sub-genres of "doom metal" or "trash metal."  Furthermore, as is often found in the electronic genres, one can easily make the case that a majority of the best and most original sounds from the heavier sounds originate from the countries of Scandinavia.  It is in this hotbed of powerful, loud music that one will find one of the finest and longest standing bands of this style: Borlänge, Sweden's Dozer.  Having released half a dozen records over the past fifteen years, Dozer have made a name for themselves not only for making some of the most impressive records of the true heavy metal style, but for doing so on staggeringly cheap budgets.  Notorious for recording their 2000 album In The Tail Of A Comet for only $500, it is almost impossible to find and of the bands' records that are anything less than superb, and each album adds further support to the idea that much like more volume, more money similarly does not insure a better record.  Proving that they are just as strong as when they started, there are few songs that can compare to the sheer power found on Dozer's 2008 song, "The Flood."

To those familiar with the overall catalog of Dozer, it is clear that the album featuring this song, Beyond Colossal, is without question their heaviest and darkest record to date.  Staying true to the sound which has defined the band over their career, the heavy, trudging guitar riffs and the massive wall of sound that the band creates often finds them labeled as "stoner metal," yet they are far more aggressive than a majority of bands in that special genre.  Furthermore, to kick off an album with a track like "The Flood" sets a difficult standard, as the song is so impressive that it is truly a tough act to follow.  Leaving no time for the listener to "prepare," the song kicks off at full power, with a tight drum introduction from Olle Mårthans before the dual guitars of Tommi Holappa and band founder Fredrik Nordin drop in, also at full power.  The full-scale musical assault that ensues is almost unsettling at times, as the group unleashes a fury of sound, pummeling the listener with each note, and yet Dozer makes sure not to make things so loud that the true beauty behind the music is lost.  The deep groove that the band creates on "The Flood" is present in large part due to the bass playing of Johan Rockner, and the manner in which he winds around the guitar players makes it clear that Dozer is far more than "just another" heavy band.  Throwing in smaller solos behind the main riff, the three guitarists clearly have a chemistry rarely seen in the genre, and the way in which the band moves as a single, crushing unit is one of the keys that makes both Dozer and "The Flood" sound like no other band on the planet.

Adding in what can only be labeled a "perfect" vocals, Fredrik Nordin uses "The Flood" to prove that even after more than fifteen years, he is still without question one of the finest singers on the planet of any genre.  Able to seamlessly switch between his captivating screams and his unquestionably wonderful singing voice, Nordin possesses a vocal dynamic that is rarely found within any of the heavier musical styles.  It is within his singing that the song moves from almost overpowering to something that is more accurately described as "foreboding."  The way in which Nordin attacks the vocals is where the darker, more somber approach of the band becomes clear, and yet "The Flood" serves as proof that one need not get slow and quiet to convey these emotions.  Though screaming often works perfectly alongside aggressive music, Nordin highlights the fact that, if the lyrics are unintelligible, much of the true beauty behind a song becomes lost.  It is also within the lyrics of "The Flood" that the band shows the more chilling and gloomy side of their music, and the words complete a truly perfect overall atmosphere.  While some may see lines like, "...before I have to go, I'll tell the tide to flood you all..." as little more than excessively violent, the fact of the matter is, if one looks at the lyrics overall, there are far deeper meanings that can be constructed.  Implying that there is far more behind the words, one can draw a number of interpretations from the verse of, "...die, no you will have to learn...cry, no I won't go unheard...and I will watch you from a higher ground..."  The way in which Nordin delivers the brilliant words creates an amazing mood, and there is simply no other song that can compare to the sheer majesty of "The Flood."

If there was ever a genre which gets constantly written off my inaccurate assumptions, there is no question that the number one victim of this is that of heavy metal.  Often seen as little more than "screaming over loud music," many music fans miss some of the most powerful and truly beautiful songs ever recorded.  Spending nearly two decades reinforcing the fact that there is far more within heavy metal than just "screaming over loud music," Swedish metal icons, Dozer, remain one of the most original and highly respected bands in the history of the genre.  Setting aside expensive recording sessions and finding no need for excessive volume, the group is sheer musical power, and the band finds a stunning way to balance amazingly elegant musical progressions alongside an uncanny sense of force that is the backbone behind their sound.  Filled with some of the most powerful and punishing guitar riffs ever recorded, as well as the devastating drumming of Olle Mårthans, Dozer keep doing their part to ensure the longevity of the heavier style of music, even in an era when quick, almost mindless songs are dominating commercial music across the globe.  Truly "sticking to their guns," Dozer find ways to constantly reinvent themselves, and their 2008 release, Beyond Colossal, though perhaps a bit pretentious in title, unquestionably lives up to the billing.  Filled with some of the finest songs of their career, Dozer remain one of the most unique and instantly recognizable bands on the planet.  Setting the stage for what stands as one of the finest records of the decade, Dozer delivers one of the greatest songs of their career with the first song on the album, the truly magnificent and fierce track, "The Flood."

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