Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Greenleaf - Nest Of Vipers (Small Stone Records 2012)

Hi-drama Swedish fuzz rock? Yes please!

When a band names itself Greenleaf, you can bet your bottom bollock they're either clean living straight-edgers that drink nothing stronger than a cup of green tea, or that they're partial to the occasional skunk-packed jazz cigarette. On discovering that this band's music comprises of murmured vocals and '70s style fuzzy guitar riffs, I'd be willing to wager another gonad that it's the latter substance that floats their boat. 

Click over the jump for more on Greenleaf's Nest Of Vipers.

Nest Of Vipers, is the fifth and latest album in the band's twelve year existence. Not bad going considering that the group is a “lets just have fun with it” side project. Greenleaf is led by mainstay guitarist Tommi Holappa (whose main band is Dozer), and features the latest line-up of like-minded rockers cherry picked from the Swedish rock underground.

Though the band's playing is reassuringly punchy and bludgeoning, on first listen the vocals come across frustratingly low in the mix. A few listens in however, as odd snippets of lyrics make their way through, you brain is engaged to fill in the blanks, and I'm in no doubt that this was a deliberate ploy. The vocals almost becoming another instrument, not overpowering but a vital part of the overall sonic picture.

Nest Of Vipers contains the sort of driving rock that The Foo Fighters make yet minus the hi-end studio gloss. It's authentically fuzzy and grungey but not at the expense of tunes. In fact Greenleaf are the band that the Foo Fighters could have been had Grohl & Co. cared more about actual rock 'n' roll, and less about mid-week chart placings.

At times heavy and driving as on the majestic opening track “Jackstaff”, and bass-heavy follower “Case Of Fidelity”, other times meditative and almost mystical (“Tree Of Life” and “At The Helm”), the band are also not afraid of letting a lighter, pop-rock element creep in occasionally, as on “Sunken Ships” where guest vocalist Peder Bergstrand's upper register provides a nice contrast with the band's signature low end rock sound.

Although their main inspiration comes from the Anglo/American heavy rock canon, there's an also present Swedish knack for mixing sadness and melody, most pertinently on the album's epic closing track “Nest Of Vipers (A Multitude Of Sins)”. This is an album that works best listened to in one sitting, at window shaking volume. So turn it up loud and get that kettle on, I really fancy a …......... cup of green tea.

Click here for Greenleaf's profile on the Small Stone Records website.