Greenleaf

Rise Above The Meadow

Written by: AP on 27/09/2016 20:27:02

One of the main reasons for Dozer’s restive period from 2008 to 2013 was the gradual influx of its members into guitarist Tommi Holappa’s side project Greenleaf. And although in the present configuration, the shared line-up amounts to just Holappa as well as bassist Johan Rockner, the relative frequencies of output from the bands suggests that Greenleaf has crept up to the top of the two musicians’ priorities: since 2007, the former has issued just one studio album against the latter’s four. One suspects the shifting focus stems from the fact that Greenleaf offers a lighter take on Dozer’s stoner rock, aligning more with hip contemporaries such as Kadavar and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, and as such provides an easier route to popularity.

Mind you, that term ’lighter’ should be swallowed with a grain of salt — it merely refers to toning down the iterative riffs, fuzz and psychedelia that are the hallmark of textbook stoner rock. In terms of production, this sixth record “Rise Above the Meadow” features a dense, almost metallic mix familiar from artists such as Orange Goblin and Witchcraft circa “Legend”, and is therefore, objectively speaking, a heavier piece of music than anything you would find in Dozer’s repertoire. As the opening track “A Million Fireflies” insinuates however, the underlying songwriting applauds conciseness and weighs hooks heavier than long guitar solos and jam segments. Whether it is the signature riff, the poignant, Kadavar-esque sinus pattern of Arvid Jonsson’s singing in the verse, or the affected chorus, ”And oh, look at the night, and all those crimson red, bright lights. And oh, look at the sky, and a million fireflies.”, the track makes an immediate impact and stays with you long past the nine tracks that comprise the album. The boogie rocking “Golden Throne” embraces pop arrangement to an even greater degree, resting on the same sort of swaggering staccato riff and per-beat kick that made Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows” such an unforgettable hit.

When the quartet, completed by drummer Sebastian ‘Kongo’ Olsson, tempers the groove for moodier cuts like “Howl” or “Pilgrims”, this is done with a keen ear for memorabilia as well, so that Holappa is able to unleash his extemporary ideas without harming the overall accessibility of the music. In “Pilgrims”, the massive wah-wah solo he drills in as a crescendo after the second chorus (an Uncle Acid-style, classic doom tinged affair), slots into the song like hand into glove and proves it is not always necessary to bust out the ol’ kaleidoscope to stroke a stoner connoisseur’s eardrums. Indeed, for large portions of the LP, Greenleaf seem, like Kadavar, to have unlocked the secret to penning heavy rock with the capacity to please both those looking to lose themselves in the colour of sound, and those looking for more immediate rewards.

But alas, the four songs that sit sandwiched between “Golden Throne” and “Pilgrims” turn up with little fanfare, with even the ambitious “Levitate and Bow (Pt. 1 & 2)” fizzling out following its promising first part of airy grandeur. Had the climax (the aforementioned “Pilgrims”) not been sequenced as the conclusion to the record, the achilles heel formed by this quartet might have rendered the second half so anonymous it might have negated all of the stunning work put in by the band in the first. Nonetheless, there is certainly plenty of material packed into “Rise Above the Meadow” that adheres to the higher standard of the current wave of heritage rock, and should you maintain an interest in the genre, you would do well to include the piece in your collection.

Download: A Million Fireflies, Howl, Golden Throne, Pilgrims
For the fans of: Kadavar, Lonely Kamel, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Witchcraft
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.02.2016
Napalm Records

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