Trails and Passes

Written by: BV on 27/12/2014 15:08:25

Greenleaf have been around the retro-rock/stoner rock scene for a while now whilst never having really garnered the same response or even attention as their peers in Kadavar, Lonely Kamel, Witchcraft or the like. It’s strange really, as the band has released some very fine albums in the past – examples of these being “Agents of Ahriman” and “Revolution Rock”. With “Trails and Passes” Greenleaf seem to be trying once more to penetrate the barrier between them and the heavyweights of the genre and seem to be doing so with moderate success.

Album opener “Our Mother Ash” certainly has the sort of infectious quality that is increasingly necessary to possess in order to become even moderately relevant in a revival scene that seems to have reached its peak, meaning that it is now down to survival of the fittest – hopefully leaving the truly relevant acts active whilst the opportunistic tag-alongs of the genre slowly disperse into other forays of music. “Ocean Deep” leads the band further on a semi-psychedelic path with a mildly droning riff and some mildly cryptic lyrics, whilst a sporadic lead-guitar takes off on its own almost seeming detached from the remaining soundscape, but in an oddly befitting way.

“With Eyes Wide Open” is the album’s longest track by far, yet it is here that the band asserts their relevance within the scene, as they explore the boundaries of acidic stoner rock and practically leave the retro-tinged soundscapes behind in favor of a kaleidoscopic musical journey fuelled by fuzz riffs, meandering echoes, drones and some amazing evocative vocals that simply elevate the track to a higher level. The fuzzy bass which is dominant throughout the track constantly drives the track forward, although all in a relative slow pace making it a slow-burning, bong-inviting ripper fully capable of associating itself with the finer calibers of contemporary stoner rock acts.

Has “Trails and Passes” then established Greenleaf as an act one should be on the lookout for? It might and it should, but releases like these often slip under the radar of most people somehow anyway. What I can say for certain, however, is that “Trails and Passes” is most likely Greenleaf’s strongest release since 2007’s “Agents of Ahriman”. It’s a fine piece of work that still shows off areas which can be improved, whilst also showcasing a significant development in the songwriting since “Nest of Vipers” from 2012. It should be noted that while their lengthy tracks like “With Eyes Wide Open” are often highlights of their albums, this should not keep the band from creating shorter and more aggressive tracks as these make up the yin to the yang. One aspect of Greenleaf can’t simply exist without the other and it is therefore of pivotal importance for Greenleaf’s further development that these two aspects of their music are honed equally.

Download: With Eyes Wide Open, Ocean Deep, Depth of the Sun,
For the fans of: Dozer, Sasquatch, The Atomic Bitchwax
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.05.2014
Small Stone Recordings

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