Released: 2007, Small Stone Records
Sweden’s Greenleaf have been kicking out the jams since the late ‘90s. Aside from The Hellacopters, they are about the only true rock band from their country to make a name for itself on the world stage – aside from guitarist Tommi Holappa’s mighty Dozer, that is. Anyway, the last we heard from Greenleaf was way back in 2003, with their frankly uninspiring SECRET ALPHABETS. That album certainly had its moments, but overall was lacking the catchy riffs that make bands like this run. Hopefully four years away has helped these guys get their act together.
As I mentioned, Greenleaf is a rock ‘n roll band, sliding down towards the more stoned side of the genre, but certainly not as fuzzy or luded as some of their brethren (Kyuss). As AGENTS OF AHRIMAN aptly displays, Greenleaf is all about rocking out – there’s time for tokin’ later! Happily, the band HAS grown in the years since I last heard them, as AGENTS OF AHRIMAN is an improvement on SECRET ALPHABETS in almost every way. The best songs on that album (“Witchcraft Tonight”) had deadly hooks that sunk deep, and a groove that was impossible to resist. This disc is full of similar songs. If “Highway Officer” and “Alishan Mountain” don’t grab you and get you moving, then you are officially dead.
As the album moves on, the band dives a bit deeper into the more psychedelic side of stoner rock, taking us on drug trips with the “Agents of Ahriman” through the “Black Tar”, finally ending in a “Sleep Paralysis”. Fortunately, even these quieter, trippier moments are as entertaining as the full-on rockers.
This is a big step forward for Greenleaf. They’ve produced an entertaining stoner rock album that easily competes with the best of the Small Stone roster. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait four years for the next one!