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Greenleaf: Nest of vipers

13/06/12  ||  gk

Swedish stoner rock merchants Greenleaf started life back in 1999 and through 3 full length albums and an ever revolving cast of musicians; the band has established itself as one of the leaders of the Swedish stoner scene. “Nest of Vipers”, the bands fourth and latest album sees the line up further morphing to now include 3/4th of the Dozer line up. It’s still Greenleaf though and the band is not quite going all “Beyond Colossal” on us. Instead, it’s a natural progression from 2007s “Agents of Ahriman”.

The first three songs on this album pretty much set the stage for everything to follow. Opener “Jack Staff” followed by “Case of Fidelity” and the superb “Lilith” are all seemingly inspired by rough and ready 70s hard rock but it’s a bit more than just that. Vocalist Oskar Cedermalm has a knack for consistently delivering catchy vocal lines and Per Wiberg guests on the excellent “Lilith”. “Tree of Life” is a bit more psychedelic in nature, being mostly instrumental and doing a wonderful job of going from soft to hard and the control of tempo on this song is terrific. Cedarmalm steps in for the lone verse on the song around half way through and the song shifts in tone to a more traditional hard rock approach before finishing up with a loud and heavy garage rock feel and a fuzzed out lead guitar bit. “At the Helm” is just a beautiful song with a snaky laid back verse and some absolutely sublime bass playing before it goes into a loud and heavy chorus with soaring vocals and a clean transition to one of the better guitar solo spots on this album.

The album closes with the superb title track which at just over 8 minutes is the mandatory album epic. Everything Greenleaf has shown off in the preceding 8 songs comes together here. Dozer’s Fredrik Nordin starts proceedings with a beautiful vocal falsetto coming over all smooth and dreamy. Per Wiberg returns with a stunning Hammond organ solo in the middle of the song and then is followed by an equally impressive guitar solo before the song heads into the second half and a superb instrumental blow out ending.

Oskar Cedarmalm turns in a great vocal performance and while his voice is not particularly strong, his ability to come up with memorable vocal lines really works well for “Nest of Vipers”. Tommi Holappa and Johan Rockner are superb on guitar and bring a very welcome toughness to the songs. The lead playing is sublime and the duo do a fantastic job of playing a solo to heighten the atmosphere of a song. Bengt Bäcke’s bass playing is incredibly fluid and smooth. It’s never in your face but always helping the song sounds warmer, richer and fuller. Drummer Olle Mårthans is an absolute star here with his drumming giving the songs momentum and a heavier feel than the last album.

This really is one classy album. Almost like a snapshot of where Sweden’s heavy rock scene is at the moment with a bunch of players who are of the highest pedigree giving you a guided tour. The song writing on this album is highly evolved and “Nest of Vipers” is one of those albums that really grow on you with every listen. Fans of last year’s Graveyard album and fans of stoner rock/ metal in general should find plenty to like here. Greenleaf has released what is easily their finest album and if you’re a fan of the genre then “Nest of Vipers” is essential.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Small Stone
  • Website: Greenleaf MySpace
  • Band
  • Tommi Holappa: guitar
  • Bengt Bäcke: bass
  • Oskar Cedermalm: vocals
  • Johan Rockner: guitar
  • Olle Mårthans: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Jack Staff
  • 02. Case of Fidelity
  • 03. Lilith
  • 04. Tree of Life
  • 05. Dreamcatcher
  • 06. At the Helm
  • 07. Sunken Ships
  • 08. The Timeline’s History
  • 09. Nest of Vipers (a Multitude of Sins)