Greenleaf - Trails And Passes - (7.5/10)
Published on June 22, 2014
There is no visible end to the waves of great hard rock emanating from Sweden. Whatever the reason, the relatively small Scandinavian country keeps pumping out ass-kicking bands, from Asteroid to Witchcraft. Starting out as a side-project of Dozer, the Borlänge-based Greenleaf has seen members of Demon Cleaner, Truckfighters, and Lowrider pass through their revolving doors. It’s no bombshell, then, that their fifth album Trails And Passes is a thoroughbred piece of stoner rock. Still featuring Dozer members Bengt Bäcke (bass) and Tommi Holappa (guitar), Trails And Passes sees drummer Sebastian Olsson and vocalist Arvid Jonsson joining the fold.
Launching straight into a fuzz and roll fury, “Our Mother Ash” simply oozes with dry desert flair. Peyote and convertibles are the law; this is music for cruising through the desert under the open skies. Like a more laid-back Truckfighters, Greenleaf are content to sit back and let others do the vehicular brawling. “Ocean Deep” is an immediate highlight, a lazy rhythmic tune that seems tailored for sweaty midsummer nights. Obviously there is a strong sense of Homme in the spaced-out riffs, but Greenleaf are more than sons of Kyuss. These guys know their game, and it shows throughout Trails And Passes.
Notice the color of the leaves
Unfamiliar with their previous output, my impression of Greenleaf is solely based on the quality of Trails. Oscillating between steady stoner jams and hard-rocking numbers, the band exceeds in both areas. Jonsson’s pipes are somewhat dazed and distant, which suits the slower numbers but could have used a little bite on pounding tracks like “Equators”. There are a couple of misses on the album, particularly the funk-flirting of “The Drum”, and the Alice In Chains-esque number “Humans”, fall flat. Greenleaf are at their strongest where fuzz and psychedelia meets, as on the aforementioned “Ocean Deep” and the groovy monster “With Eyes Wide Open”.
Despite the odd weak track, Trails And Passes is great when it hits all the right notes. The positives by far outweigh the negatives; all things considered Greenleaf is a pretty awesome band. Children of the riff are bound to find at least a couple of keepers here, as well as potheads, skaters, and otherwise chill dudes. As the sun descends, Greenleaf just seem to get higher.