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Greenleaf - Agents Of Ahriman

  by Paul Raven

published: 24 / 10 / 2007

Greenleaf - Agents Of Ahriman
Label: Small Stone Records
Format: CD


Fine-focused third album from Swedish group Greenleaf who cast old familiar objects in an entirely new light with their unique brand of stoner rock

It's pretty blunt, in both senses of the word – you name your band Greenleaf, and you've irrevocably bumper-stickered your metaphorical pick-up truck with the slogan “I brake for skunk and loud guitars”. Yup – Greenleaf are a stoner rock band. They're a band with pedigree, though – you could even consider them a 'supergroup', containing members of second-wave stoner outfits like Dozer and Demon Cleaner, and a roster of incidental guest appearances by other nod-rock notables. 'Agents Of Ahriman' is their third full-length offering, albeit after a four year hiatus; these guys are experienced, in the Hendrix sense of the word. They make music that sounds like it's been dragged back comatose from the far slopes of Marijuana Mountain, with scenic detours through Sky Valley and across the Peyote Plains. Saying a stoner band sound like Black Sabbath is like saying water is wet – obvious to the point of being unnecessary. But water alone, while it satisfies a basic thirst, is not an exciting thing to drink day after day; you want some flavour, a bit of zing, something to refresh the tongue as well as the body. There are hundreds of bottled-water stoner bands out there, cranking out riffs that Tony Iommi could probably sue over without any fear of losing, and doing little more than that. To their credit, Greenleaf go the extra mile, digging down deeper into the psychedelic rumble of 70's metal to find the beating heart, and re-routing the veins to pump new blood into an old old sound. How exactly they've done it is hard to define – to reach out and point to any specific riff or solo or lyric and say “there, that's the magic bit” is beyond me, because the innovation here isn't sonic. Greenleaf haven't tried to reinvent the wheel, which would have been a fruitless exercise at best. Instead, they've clambered inside the skin of the style, wearing it like an Aztec priest dancing in the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim. It's an energy thing, a commitment, a passion. 'Agents Of Ahriman' isn't a homage or a pastiche; it's an album by a band who know and love a style so well that they couldn't play anything else. They don't need to copy anyone – it's in their bloodstreams, saturated, ubiquitous. But they're not taking themselves too seriously, either. That album title, for instance – Ahriman is the name of the destructive and materialist principle in the shrinking yet persistent ancient Middle Eastern religion of Zoroastrianism. Which sounds a little pretentious, until you realise that Ahriman is the Zoroastrian analogue for Satan, and that Greenleaf are nodding back at the thematic imagery of heavy metal with a wry grin on their faces. Don't read too much into it, though. The only thing that Greenleaf worship is the power of an amped-up guitar riff, and that worship is a ceremony based around participation, a celebration and indulgence of all that is redemptive and escapist about classic heavy metal. They say there's nothing new under the sun ... but the sun can cast old familiar objects in an entirely new light when it shines from a new angle. Stoner rock just turned over a new leaf.

Track Listing:-
1 Highway Officer
2 Treehorn
3 Alishan Mountain
4 Black Tar
5 The Lake
6 Agents Of Ahriman
7 Ride Another Highway
8 Sleep Paralysis
9 Stray Bullit Woman

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