There are a select few bands who come out with all cylinders blazing, burning with a skill that is in direct contrast to their brief time together as a singular unit. Today’s review focuses on one of those groups, a Finnish quartet known as Heezer and currently signed to Italy’s Argonauta Records, and who released their debut full-length album, Sungrinder, on March 31st.
Heezer is a Stoner Rock band from South Karelia, Finland, based in the town of Imatra. They offer up a style of Stoner that puts a heavier emphasis on their Grunge influences, while still worshiping the power of the riff that is a key component of the Stoner genre. The band’s members include:
- Sami Kääriäinen – Guitar and Vocals
- Ville Räsänen – Guitar
- Annti Vesikko – Bass Guitar
- Ville Häsä – Drums
Sungrinder Album Review
Release Date: March 31, 2023
Label: Argonauta Records
1. Fourth Line
“Fourth Line” kicks the album off with a massive riff, showcasing power and the band’s ability to grab the attention of anyone within earshot. Heezer breaks out the Grunge by the time the verse enters, which only increases during the chorus. A case could be made to compare this one to Alice In Chains and several of the other big names of the ‘90s Grunge scene, but Heezer creates their own identity while wearing those influences on their sleeves with pride.
“Spacegod” utilizes riffs that have the Stoner elements that we all need, while seemingly rooted in late ‘90s grunge overall. There are a few somewhat complex guitar parts that mix in with the less technical ones to create the coolest vibe, and the transitions between them seem effortless. Add in a great-sounding chorus and excellent performances from all involved, and you have musical excellence.
“2009” will strike a chord with fans of the latest Clutch album. As with much of Sungrinder, the vocals are stellar and the music is equally so. This is the first track to offer up a less “in-your-face” section, which occurs near the end of the track. It’s that diversity that makes this one stand out from the pack.
4. Dream Machine
“Dream Machine” isn’t employing a lot of Stoner in its runtime. There’s a much more pronounced driving rock feel, alongside a Dave Grohl-styled vocal approach. Honestly, this track would be completely at home on a Foo Fighters album, which isn’t a negative. The melody is memorable, which should inspire many consecutive listens by anyone with ears.
“Sunshine” is one of the heavier tracks on Sungrinder, and it should resonate with fans of Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. While similar in style to its predecessors, “Sunshine” offers up an instrumental section that borders on Heavy Psych. The bass guitar is the highlight of that piece, with Annti playing a quick and technical line that flows as effortlessly as the currents of any ocean.
6. Red Giant
There’s much more Stoner Rock to “Red Giant”, which was one of the singles. There’s also a diversity to the music that helps to create the shifts that will keep listeners interested and coming back for more. The short but fiery lead is one of the best ones on the record, but it should have been a bit longer as it ends just as the listener gets a taste of it.
7. Mother Rain
Opening with a heavy Blues groove is always a check in the positive column, and that’s exactly where Heezer begins in “Mother Rain.” The intro riff sounds enormous, and has a guitar tone to match that; if your head isn’t immediately bobbing along with it, you don’t have it turned up loud enough. Heezer throws a bit of Heavy Psych into their sound, and that’s never on display more than it is during the couple of minutes of the song.
8. Growing On
After a bit of a slow start, “Growing On” soon takes on a galloping riff that has more in common with Thrash than with Grunge. The chorus sections aren’t as intense, bringing back the Grunge vibes in a big way. The only bad thing after the weak intro is that this track is so short, and it doesn’t feel fully fleshed out because of it.
9. I The Sun
“I The Sun” is the longest track on this album, and it’s the most laid back as well. Heezer seemed to realize that this is the point in the album where they needed to break out a song that exhibits more of what they are able to do, and it worked out really well in terms of the album as a whole. It still shows their Grungier and Stoner sides, but goes the extra step to give listeners a more complete idea of who they are as a band.
While “I The Sun” was the longest, this last track is the shortest. They chose to close out the record on an acoustic guitar and vocal track, going bare bones while giving us more insight into who they are. Phenomenal way to end a phenomenal album.
Final Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: “Fourth Line”, “2009”, “Dream Machine”, “Red Giant”, and “Mother Rain”
Pros: With superb songwriting, a hodgepodge of the best influences from the last 30 years of music, and stellar vocals, Heezer’s debut full length doesn’t leave much to complain about … except that we need more cowbell!
No matter what, Sungrinder is one of those albums that should appeal to fans of many genres, making it one of the best releases of early 2023.
Cons: While seemingly perfect in many ways, Sungrinder may disappoint those listeners who don’t like Grunge to be the foremost element in their Stoner Rock. This is offset by the quality of the songs and the musicianship displayed by the entire band, though, making it a minor issue.