WORDS: Jim Forsyth
We’re quite firmly into 2016 now and we’ve had a few awesome releases from all bands great and small. Swedish stoner-rock veterans GREENLEAF have dropped a new album Rise Above the Meadow and boy is a belter.
Rise Above the Meadow could be compared to a time machine, GREENLEAF are known for their heavy, 70’s influenced sound and once again it is an incredibly dominant feature of the new album. The former side projects previous album, Trails and Passes, has seen some incredible praise and was widely regarded as a great new start for the band in its current line up, which has since changed.
This iteration of GREENLEAF features a new bassist this time around, the thick strings are now in the very capable hands of Hans Fröhlich. Fröhlich joins guitarist Tommi Holappa of DOZER, vocalist Arvid Fröhlich and finally Sebastian Olsson on drums.
Regardless of the line-up changes there is always a core sound that GREENLEAF have, and it goes back to that time machine comparison, Holappa’s guitar sound is damn near iconic, it is old school, fuzzy, everything that encapsulates the 70’s with a dash of stoner psychedelia.
GREENLEAF oozes style consistently; differing edges on the musicians that dip in and out of the (former) side project add a new element to the sound and nicely come together to create the band’s distinctive sound. Rise Above the Meadow is no different, GREENLEAF have created yet another huge sounding album littered with solid song after solid song.
A Million Fireflies starts the album off with a fast and percussive experience, this song is a great lead into the album, it is very heavy hitting. The vocals in this track are powerfully haunting, layering was a great choice here as it just intensifies the experience more, that coupled with Fröhlich’s awesome bass lines really make for a very dramatic song.
Levitate and Bow in its full 2 parts is an experience, the song starts with beautifully haunting vocals with a great guitar lick over the top. The track builds and builds on this journey where musical elements just fall in and out, it is a gorgeous blend that creates a mysterious ambience too it. Part 2 of the track starts around half way through its total runtime, this time the pacing is progressive and delightfully Black Sabbath-y, very haunting and dark.
Howl is an interesting track, the initial pacing of it is quite bluesy and has great rhythm to it and plays along nicely. The track is over 5 minutes long and almost lures you into the security with the way it is written, suddenly around 3 minutes in the bass takes over and it is as if Truckfighters have taken over, real highway music. Every instrument becomes more percussive and aggressive until Holappa closes it off with an awesome solo.
Rise Above the Meadow’s is fluid and packs a whole lot of punch through the 9 track roster, GREENLEAF have set the bar up incredibly high nailing stunner after stunner. This said some tracks dominate more than others, every track is a belter but as said, some stand out more.
Rise Above The Meadow is set for release on February 26th via Napalm Records.