Monday 14 April 2014

Greenleaf - Trails & Passes - Album Review

Trails and Passes cover art

Trails & Passes

Small Stone
May 2014

The band:

Bengt Bäcke - bass guitar
Sebastian Olsson - drums
Tommi Holappa - guitar
Arvid Jonsson - vocals

The songs:

1. Our Mother Ash
2. Ocean Deep
3. Equators
4. Depth Of The Sun
5. Humans
6. With Eyes Wide Open
7. The Drum
8. Bound To Be Machines
9. Trails & Passes

Alright it seems that I again have to to be the village fool. 'Trails & Passes' is my fellow Swedes' 5th full-length but up til now I have never heard of them. I know I should be more than ashamed especially since I like guitarist Tommi Holappa's other band Dozer. Let me blame it on having lived in the States for too long. Regardless my pettiness I am glad this album was sent my way because the trippy, spaced out stoner-psych Greenleaf are playing is absolutely fantastic. And it gives me some backtracking to do since these bonged-out Swedes are well worth checking up on.

Guitarist Tommi Holappa and bassist Bengt Bäcke are the only mainstays through the band's career and this time they have brought in singer Arvid Jonsson and drummer Sebastian Olsson. And this new constellation don't disappoint. Of course, I don't what their previous releases sounds like but that doesn't matter because Greenleaf lets the riffs and the groove dictate this wax.

A bluesy riff starts off opener 'Our Mother Earth' before the band launches into a barnstormer of a song. Leaning heavily into heavy rock of the 70's it's a brilliant starter indeed. Going for groove and jam 'Ocean Deep' builds up slowly until this psych-sounding piece kind of explodes in the second half with a brutal guitar solo. Starting almost like 'Mississippi Queen', 'Equators' quickly turns into a stoner tune mixed with a good pinch of power blues of the highest order. Amazing, you hear?!?!?! It's back to groove and spaced out rock on 'Depth Of The Sun'. Almost like a Clutch song with John Garcia or Mark Lanegan on vocals 'Humans' is that type of song that builds up increasingly in parts. Slightly different but very good.

'With Eyes Wide Open' takes us on a trip and a half. Just stick your nose in the rose in the hole and it smells like a dream if you know what I mean. An awesome space trip on the slower side so just close your eyes and you'll be somewhere else, somewhere good! Knee deep in blues with blistering guitar work and some heavy hitting drumming 'The Drum' is over too quickly. Remedy is right around the corner though in 'Bound To Be Machines'. Greenleaf play some real good riff-infested stoner here with Arvid sounding like Mark Lanegan which is a big plus in my book. Round of the album is the title track and the Screaming Trees references are here in abundance and I love it. Musically it's more spacey and stoner than the Trees ever were. It's in the vocal delivery and the harmonies it comes out and it is amazing.

Well, what can I say? A better introduction than this to a "new" band is virtually impossible. 'Trails & Passes' took me by storm and it is constantly growing which is a great trait in a great album. Not only that, it also has given me a purpose, a strong purpose, in getting my hands on the band's other releases. These guys are way too good to be ignored so get off your asses and investigate and invest in Greenleaf!

Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Small Stone Recordings for sending ourselves a promo to review. Trails & Passes will be available to buy from May 13th 2014 on CD/DD from Small Stone Recordings on BandCamp and their official website.

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