Even with the addition of Arvid Jonsson (vocals) and Sebastian Olsson (drums), Dozer veterans Tommi Holappa (guitar) and Bengt Bäcke (bass) drive the familiar formula that has preserved what started as a Dozer side project into what Holappa now considers his primary band (with Dozer becoming a side project). Greenleaf never misses a beat in establishing what this band is about.
The opener Our Mother Ash does it for them. It immediately opens with a percussion-driven beat offset by thunderous riffs. It sets the pace and tone of album, alluding to a presence that deserves to be bowed down to upon arrival. "Dreams will fall, hit on the ground."
Trails & Passes leads to some beautifully strange destinations.
The second track is even better, with its full-throttle classic rock swagger. The melody and crunchy bass work lay down the foundation for tightly formed solos. Heavy rock doesn't get much better.
At more than five minutes, it isn't hard to find dozens of natural openings for the band to break away from their pages and pound out a few jam session styled solos during any live set. As is, Ocean Deep is everything heavy rock can be, densely beautiful with measured amounts of quickly repetitive and wildly individualized intensity. It's arguably the finest track on the album and keeps good company.
Equators follows with a steady driving beat accented by some power blues, bass, and cowbell. The composition is classic: a rolling midrange punctuated by intense drum work and occasional guitar bursts. Depth Of The Sun loads up on a haunting open before a meandering odyessey-infused fable. Humans rounds out the top half of the album and provides a smoky breath before one final build.
Humans also makes for great lead into the experimental open of With Eyes Wide Open. The epic 8-minute heavy brooder drones on through much of the composition, opening up much later (maybe too late) shortly after the four-minute mark. The change in tempo is welcome, even if the band never finds any real urgency for it. The Drum comes across as a stark and welcome contrast, quickly playing itself out in just over two minutes. Get that one.
The album closes out on Bound To Be Machines and Trails & Passes. The former fills up on the Greenleaf formula while the title track brings Trails & Passes to its natural conclusion. The vocals aren't as strong on Trails & Passes as they could be, but the instrumental work makes up for it with the band finally finding some urgency to close out the album.
Trails & Passes By Greenleaf Rocks 6.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Trails & Passes is an album with peaks and valleys, making it possible to stick with some of the highlights alone. Must-have tracks include Ocean Deep and The Drum. The balance largely depends on individual tastes, with Equators, Depth Of The Sun, and Trails & Passes likely rounding out mine.
Trails & Passes can be picked up from Amazon or downloaded from iTunes. You can also order the Trails & Passes by Greenleaf CD from Barnes & Noble. The band is currently touring in northern Europe. Their tour schedule is listed on Facebook.