The Scandinavians sure love their metal. The fanfare is so strong, Finland has a heavy metal band called Hevisaurus that sings about dinosaurs to children. Just to their west, the people of Sweden have taken a deep, deep dive into the world of Stoner Rock. Even though there’s not a desert to be found in the cold, northern country, their musicians have proved capable of writing authentic Desert Rock.
Here’s a look at some of the best Swedish Stoner Rock bands:
The first half of Lowrider’s story is one we’ve all heard before: A few musicians get together to write a Stoner Rock album, then they disappear soon after. Lowrider released Ode to Io in 2000 and although it was criticized for taking plenty of pages from the Kyuss playbook, the album was an immaculate effort deserving every bit of praise it received. Lowrider proved they could pump the desert out of a Swedish recording studio—grit, sand, and distortion intact. Surprisingly, the band reunited for 2020’s Refractions. Refractions contains many of the qualities that made Ode to Io great, and it even took “Sun Devil,” a track they never fully explored in Ode to Io, and threw it into an old Camaro for a momentous trip through California. Check out the comparisons below.
The Refractions Version:
We’ve already dedicated plenty of copy to Truckfighters, but we can’t help ourselves. The band members are responsible for some of the best Fuzz in the last 20 years—and part of that is from founding and operating Fuzzorama Records, a record label that works with groups like Valley of the Sun and Witchrider. Truckfighters are known for their unique blend of fuzzy riffs, cosmic grooves, and Prog tendencies. Each album has a little bit of a different atmosphere to it. In our humble opinion, 2014’s Universe is their standout album (although most people will argue that Gravity X is best).
Dozer is perhaps the most important Desert Rock-influenced band to come out of Sweden—ever. Their debut album, In the Tail of a Comet, introduced the sounds of the California desert to Sweden, making it cool to write Stoner Rock even if the nearest desert was hundreds of miles away. Without Dozer, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have this list here in front of you. None of that should overshadow their impressive catalog, however. Call it Conspiracy and Through the Eyes of Heathens are both excellent listens.
What started as a Dozer side-project has grown into a respectable act. What makes Greenleaf so interesting is their evolution over the years. Tommi Hoppalla has been the only consistent member over the last two decades, so Greenleaf’s sound has changed considerably—often from one record to the next. 2001’s Revolution Rock owed plenty to the guitar heroes of the 1970s, 2003’s Secret Alphabets borrows heavily from Heaven and Hell-era Black Sabbath, and 2007’s Agents of Ahriman blasted clean guitar solos over enormous fuzzed riffs like a Rock ‘n’ Roll celebration. By the time the band got together to write 2012’s Nest of Vipers, Tommi and Co. had established a new sort of mood. Nest of Vipers was dark, moody, but still placed guitar work above all else. While a strong effort, Nest of Vipers lacked some of the maturity we see in later records. Trails & Passes (2014), Rise Above the Meadow (2016) (the one with “Pilgrims”), and Hear the Rivers (2018) have all refined that dark mood into something immediately recognizable as Greenleaf.
If you’ve never heard Skraeckoedlan (pronounced “skak-ode-lund”) play before, get ready. The group has been rocking for more than a decade now, and that experience and maturity shines through in each subsequent effort they release. Equal parts Stoner Rock, Doom Rock, Metal, and Prog Rock, there’s a certain level of technical proficiency you don’t see in many Stoner Rock bands. Skraeckoedlan is notable for not giving into the pressure of writing their lyrics in English. Although the band is fluent, they’ve decided they can better express themselves in their mother tongue (no arguments here). Despite their impressive sound, their origin story is as banal as any other in Stoner Rock. In an interview with Orange (the legendary speaker manufacturer), guitarist Henrik Grüttner explains Robert Lamu once texted him and asked, “Do you want to play heavy Doom Rock fast and sing in Swedish and we will be called ‘Skraeckoedlan?’” Henrik was immediately into it, especially since Skraeckoedlan roughly translates into “Godzilla.”
The fact that we haven’t written about Blind Dog up until now is disappointing. Blind Dog is perhaps Sweden’s—and Stoner Rock’s—best-kept secret. Although they were resigned to the underground for most of their career, they developed a loyal following around their incessant guitar-drive songs and clever melding of Stoner Rock kings like Kyuss and Monster Magnet. Sadly, the band’s last proper album was 2006’s Rock and Roll Boulevard: Volume One. Their albums are hard to come by, even on streaming services like Spotify. Spend some time digging. You won’t be disappointed.