"Agents of Ahriman" (Small Stone; 2007)
Reviewed by Metal Mark
How many times have you heard someone say that a stoner band sounds like Black Sabbath? Probably quite a bit and this band is no exception.
Yet the Sabbath comparisons are just the beginning of what these guys have put together. There's a healthy dose of Sabbath (say circa 1972) that's present on much of this disc. There's also a strong touch of Deep Purple, particularly in the rhythms at times. Yet it's not so much who your influences are as it is how you interpret them and what you bring to the table. That last part is where I think this band shows some real promise.
The opener "Highway Officer" comes busting on with a big sound complete with fuzzy riffs, pounding drums and even some organ bursts thrown in for good measure. "Treehorn" is up next and this is where we begin to see some of what this band can really do. They not only manage the pace, they actually completely control it. Like the classic 70s bands they obviously love, they manage make every little part of the song count. Another real standout is "Black Tar" which at first sounds a little like Deep Purple's "Strange Kind of Woman." However, Greenleaf tosses in some nicely muted vocals and riffs so big they flow over you as the band easily brings them on and then takes them back down.
Two things really help make this album better than many other stoner bands. One is the amount of hooks and the knowledge of when and where to use them. So many bands of this genre tend to start songs strong, but just don't have a grasp on how much they need to do to keep the momentum going. Greenleaf make it sound easy as they plow, plod, rip and even glide through many different sound changes. The second thing in their favor -- and this is the one that really makes them important -- is the ability to put emotion into the music. Too many bands know how to play big fuzzy, distorted riffs yet it just sounds hollow if you can't put emotion throughout. These guys have a good handle on their songwriting for the most part and know how to make the songs really just ring true with genuine emotion.
Now there are a few times when there may be some gaps on songs that could have been handled
in a slightly better way. Yet, overall, this is a tremendous effort that incorporates some fine classic early metal influences with modern vocals and has some rock sensibilities thrown in for good measure. It's under forty minutes total running time yet the amount of sounds and textures present make it seem longer
... or perhaps it's just that I felt like I got so much out of the entire album. This one is certainly worth checking out.
For more information check out http://www.smallstone.com/30-greenleaf.html.
A classic. This record will kick your ass.
Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.
So-so. You've heard better.
Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.
Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.
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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 19 Feb 2017 18:25:02 -0500.