Review: Greenleaf – 'Rise Above The Meadow'

Another day, and so it seems, another quality release from a Swedish rock band harking back to the decade where men were hairy and women even hairier. 70’s inspired Retro Rock, Stoner Rock, Scuzz,Fuzz.. whatever you feel like calling it, the Swedes do it that well, it’s like they come out of the womb wearing flared trousers and reeking of patchouli oil… and Greenleaf fit the bill.

Greenleaf (think about it) are veterans of the scene. Originally a side-project of the band Dozer, it now seems that guitarist Tommi Holappa is putting all of his roach clips in one basket and concentrating on Greenleaf for now. Several line-up changes over the last few years has meant that perhaps the band were always destined to be seen as a side-project, but the ship has been steadied with the arrival of vocalist Arvid Jonsson.

If you get your groove on to bands like Queens Of The Stone Age, Clutch, Kyuss, and The Sword, then chances are that you’ll dig this album.The Queens Of The Stone Age comparison is an easy one to make, and most Stoner Rock bands will inevitably face it, but I’d say that, in places, Jonsson’s vocals are more Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys than Josh Homme.

Opener, ‘A Million Fireflies’ is massive, simply massive. It’s nearly two minutes of thunderous drums and wailing guitars before any vocals kick in. Call it, if you will, “The Steamroller Effect”. Talk about out of the traps early doors! Thankfully the track has some longevity, and doesn’t fizzle out. The vocals are lighter than the norm on a Stoner Rock album, less fuzz for sure, cleaner, almost pop-like, in places. Beefy guitars are the bedrock of any good album, and Holappa shines throughout the opening track and beyond.

‘Funeral Pyre’ opens with some powerful drumming from Sebastian Olsson before it settles down to some serious grooves, inspired by fellow Swedes, Graveyard. The Dan Auerbach comparisons creep in on ‘Howl’, five minutes where the band changes tack and pace throughout, before finishing with a fuzz overloaded solo from Holappa. ‘Carry Out The Ribbons’ is almost Sabbath-like in places, trippy and psychedelic.With Josh Homme being the purveyor of all things Stoner, it’s natural that some influences from the tall ginger one will creep in. ‘Golden Throne’ is the shortest track on the album and has the same swinging intro as Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’. It’s impossible not to notice the familiar drum beat. Tribute, or pastiche? It rocks like a beast, so who cares?

‘Levitate And Bow (Pt 1&2)’ is by comparison the albums longest track. At nearly eight minutes in length, it begins with a spaced-out section lasting three minutes or so, before some Tony Iommi riffs come crashing in, and the song takes another turn. Mind-blowing, like all good epics should be. ‘Pilgrims’ is another hefty slice of beef to round off the album. A groove-alicious song, that reels you in with some trippy vocals, before the guitar snares you with its hooks.

Stoner Rock can be repetitive (I still can’t listen to an entire Queens Of The Stone Age album in one sitting) and there are moments on ‘Rise Above The Meadow’ where my concentration went, but thankfully those were few and far between.

‘Rise Above The Meadow’ is available now through Napalm Records.

Review: Dave Stott

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