Greanleaf – Trails and Passes (Small Stone Records)


 

The members of Swedish rockers Greenleaf came together as a side-project back at the tail end of the 1990s, and have somehow outlasted the bands they considered their main gigs at the time. To understand the Greenleaf sound you only need to look as far as the acts that ‘leaf mainstays Tommi Holappa (guitars) and Bengt Bäcke (bass) used to call home. Both played in Dozer, who made some interesting Kyuss-esque albums, and Bäcke also played in a band called Demon Cleaner, who I haven’t heard but can safely assume were equally Kyuss-esque given that their name comes from one of the desert-rock pioneers’ best songs. It therefore comes with no surprise at all that Trails and Passes, Greenleaf’s fifth full-length album, can best be described as…wait for it….Kyuss-esque. Kyuss’ mash up of low rumbling heaviness and molten psychedelia is all over these nine songs, which makes for some good listening, but the lack of originality makes them far from essential. Yes the band are tight and can deliver melody and brutality in equal measure; but so did Kyuss, and with better songs. “Equators” is probably my favorite song on the album; a fun rebellious anthem, complete with a cowbell that’s so expected you almost wonder how they waited until the third track to include it. However, it too suffers from a lack of originality, which anyone who’s ever heard Hawkwind’s own rebellious anthem “Urban Guerilla” can attest to. “The Drum” is both heavy and funky, and is as far afield from Kyuss as Trails and Passes gets – which is not very far, considering it sounds almost exactly like Queens Of The Stone Age. Singer Arvid Jonsson even sings with a Josh Homme-styled falsetto. It, like everything else on the album, is well done, but has also been done better before.