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Heezer – Sungrinder Award winner

by Gary Hernandez at 08 May 2023, 8:54 PM

There are few things in this world as satisfying as well executed Stoner Rock. On March 31, 2023, Finnish Stoner Rockers, HEEZER, delivered their debut full-length album on Argonauta Records, “Sungrinder,” and it is gratifying as all hell. This ten-track, 38-minute album is pure Stoner bliss with no meandering explorations, instrumental interludes, or spoken word diatribes—just desert visions tinged with philosophical shrugs, killer riffs buzzing with infectious melodies, and enough bass to crack your neighbor’s molars. And motherfucking cowbells.

Things you should know about “Sungrinder”: 1) Clean vocals. I know this is a hot debate item, but for a lot of people clean vocals are non-negotiable—as in, no deal without them. Sami Kääriäinen (yep, apparently the vowel bank was having a sale on specially demarcated a’s) has vocals as warm as a house in Finland. We’re talking clean, perfectly harmonized, and well enunciated. No lyrics sheet needed. Also, great additional vocals provided by Heikki Pöyhiä. So for clean vocal fans, win. 2) Twin guitar attack that pushes the needle past Rock and well into Metal. When Sami and Ville Räsänen wanna crank, best get out of the way. 3) Tight rhythm section. Ville Häsä (yep, twice the Villes, double the fun) is a fantastic foreground drummer and Antt Vesikko is all you would want in Stoner bass player. Together they are the driving wheel powering the HEEZER machine.

HEEZER delivers everything on this album from mosh inciting assaults to bluesy Doom intonations to buzz invoking riffs. If you are returning fan, “Sungrinder” delivers on the promise made on their self-titled EP which was raw (good), uneven (not so good), and pretty damned heavy (good). That promise might be articulated as smoothing out the inconsistencies, making the visceral more purposeful and less chaotic, and doubling-down on the Stoner vibe—e.g., lyrics from a lost Philip K. Dick journal, sustained nasty riffs, and cowbells. If you are new to the band, the 2021 EP isn’t a bad investment if you want to check out hungry wolf HEEZER.

As far as calling out standout tracks, it would be less time consuming to list the regrets . . . which is to say, this album is brimming with Stoner awesomeness. The only track that didn’t snap my neck was the closer, “Breathe.” Top tracks are “Spacegod” which meets all the daily requirements for a healthy Stoner diet; “2009” which recounts some of the band's glory days;  “Sunshine” which will light you on fire and then cook marshmallows over your flaming corpse; and “Red Giant” which murders with a break as cool as a mentholated ice pick. And for those of you who want to get introspective and mellow, the aforementioned closer is an acoustic number (which feels like a bonus, demo type of track really) that might cause some soul searching.

Sungrinder” takes me back to the early days of FU MANCHU and mid-years of CLUTCH. If this album doesn’t get you moving, then maybe you didn’t make it out 2020 and you’re stuck in some sad, dismal fugue afterlife waiting for your actual burial. In short, I loved this album. I hope you do too.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Fourth Line
2. Spacegod
3. 2009
4. Dream Machine
5. Sunshine
6. Red Giant
7. Mother Rain
8. Growing On
9. I The Sun
10. Breathe
Sami Kääriäinen – Guitar, vocals
Ville Räsänen – Guitar
Antti Vesikko – Bass
Ville Häsä – Drums
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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Edited 05 June 2023

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