Greanleaf – Trails and Passes (Small Stone Records)


Greenleaf formed as a side-project back at the tail end of the 1990s, and have somehow outlasted the bands its members considered their main gigs at the time. To understand the Greenleaf sound you only need to look at 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 as no surprise 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 deliver melody and brutality in equal measure; but so did Kyuss, and with better songs. “Equators” is probably Greenleaf’s best song; a 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, as anyone who’s ever heard Hawkwind’s “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 it with a Josh Homme-styled falsetto. It, like everything else on the album, is well done, but has also been done better before.