|Musical Style: Classic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 38:47|
The Swedish classic metal group Green Sleeves got its start in the late seventies when it was put together by founding members guitarist/vocalist Anders Johansson (Heartcry), drummer Pelle Petersson and bassist Ulf Magnusson. With Judas Priest, Saxon, Accept and AC/DC as musical influences, the hard rocking power trio proceeded to record several demo tapes and a live album entitled Rock 82 before its members went their separate ways in 1983. The band performed live periodically throughout the nineties, including a ten year anniversary reunion show in 1993, before getting back together for good in 2005 to record its aptly titled Rivel Records full length debut Green Medicine.
Green Sleeves puts the classic in the classic metal in no uncertain terms, delivering a sound certain to appeal to fans of not only the four previously mentioned bands but also Saint, Armageddon, Snakes… era Bride, X-Sinner and Resurrection Band. Without a doubt the music here is heavy but it also showcases more than its fair share of hooks as well. The likes of “Trouble Maker” and “Run Me Down”, for example, stand out with their catchy choruses, while ”We Want It All” and “Dangerzone” move in a more melodic metal based direction. “Lawgiver” and “Bored To The Bone”, on the other hand, both come across about as subtle as a punch in the mouth.
The scratchy and at times rough sounding vocal style of Anders Johansson stands in perfect complement to the aggressive nature of the music here. Yes, his delivery can border on the abrasive and it certainly is not for everyone, but I find Johansson’s gravelly and guttural approach to be a refreshing change of pace. In other words, if you have been fed a steady diet of Lance King (Pyramaze, Avian) or Corey Brown (Magnitude 9) as of late – and by no means is that a bad thing! – then you might find Johansson’s style to take some getting used to. My advice? Approach with an open mind and a certain amount of patience and you will be richly rewarded.
Green Sleeves features a terrific guitar team in Johansson and talented newcomer Peter Ottosson, the two combining for an abundance of ardent dual lead guitar work which is best showcased on energetic hard rockers such as “Going Crazy” and “Steel”. Ulf Magnusson puts in place the albums unwavering bass lines and combines with drummer Pelle Petersson to form a tight sounding rhythm section.
Production values come across full and heavy in showcasing just the right amount of polish but not so much as to take away from the bands natural raw energy. The rhythm guitar, in particular, is mixed to near perfection and combines with an even blend of fluid lead guitar work and prominently placed bass lines.
The quality of the packaging, to put it bluntly, is unacceptable. The album cover is too simplistic, consisting of the bands logo over a black background with a pair of tablets in the foreground. Instead of a mini booklet, we get a simple fold out insert consisting of a band photo and a listing of the musicians performing on the album. No lyrics or liner notes are included. I expect more when I put out my hard earned money for a disc…
I terms of the lyrics, I would hesitate to call this a Christian album (the lyrical approach taken by the band is not as forthright as you might find on a Heartcry album); on the other hand, the lyrics here, while certainly not profound, are clean, positive and Christian friendly. It is difficult to comment on specifics due to the fact that, once again, lyrics did not come with the albums packaging.
“Green Medicine” gets the album underway strong and steady. Beginning to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the song moves ahead at a down and dirty mid-tempo pace until it achieves a chorus delivered with a plethora of grit-laden attitude and energy. Briefly pausing, the albums title track moves on to a lengthy instrumental section carried by a spirited guitar solo.
“Going Crazy” is driven ahead in unrelenting fashion by a great catchy guitar riff, a more than adequate amount of up-tempo charisma exuded as the song culminates for a hook-driven chorus shored up by Johansson’s guttural vocal delivery. Several seconds of dual lead guitar work puts the finishing touches on one of the albums better tracks.
“Troublemaker” immediately kicks in fast and heavy, tapering off slightly for its verse portions as a raging storm of buzz saw rhythm guitar pushes it to a catchy chorus backed by vocal harmonies. An over-the-top guitar solo is allowed to fluctuate between the left and right channels. Great, great song. You will be challenged to keep the melody here out of our head.
The open air rhythm guitar introducing “Run Me Down” is soon joined by the bands tight as a nail rhythm section. Forging ahead with an abundance of metal-laced allure, “Run Me Down” peaks as an aggressive environment is put in place for a chorus guaranteed to pull you in with its near mesmerizing energy. Again, a very catchy composition that ranks with the albums best.
The catchy “We Want It All” reflects a cool eighties commercial metal vibe. Fading in to a few brief seconds of guitar feedback, a choppy rhythm guitar quickly impels the song forward until it attains a non-stop hook filled chorus driven by upbeat vocal harmonies. A fluid guitar solo stands out above the mix in a perfect clean sounding manner.
“Future Of Today” is the only song here I tend to pass on. Taking off in a quickly moving manner, the song settles down a bit upon reaching its first verse as it is carried forward by Johansson’s gravel-like vocal delivery. As “Future Of Today” picks back up in pace, it reaches a chorus that, due to its slight repetitive feel, does not quite rank with the albums better material.
“Steel”, on the other hand, is a monster of a classic metal number. Getting underway to a wall of pulsating rhythm guitar, “Steel” forges ahead hard and heavy until it reaches a chorus giving rise to a near foreboding if not ominous ambience. While the melody here might not be the catchiest, the all out energy generated by the bands performance puts this one over the top.
The album continues in its classic metal direction with “Bored To The Bone”. Advancing through its first verse to a rumbling bass line as the rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix, “Bored To The Bone” peaks for a chorus repeating its title two straight times in bone crushing fashion. This one is every bit as heavy as it is memorable.
“Dangerzone”, similar to “We Want It All”, takes on a more melodic metal based approach. Just the right amount of crisp rhythm guitar helps to drive the song forward at a mid-tempo pace, the melodic based atmosphere sustained as it achieves a chorus with a great commercial flavored hook. Super-tight rhythm guitar harmony takes “Dangerzone” through a smooth sounding instrumental section.
As previously stated, “Lawgiver” comes across about as subtle as a punch in the mouth. The forward mix of rhythm guitar at the start of the song slowly but forcefully leads the way through its verse portions, the catchy chorus that follows giving rise to a portentous feel as a result of the bands heavy duty delivery. Very fine ending to what is an all around solid album.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Green Sleeves” (3:43), “Going Crazy” (3:28), “Troublemaker” (3:41), “Run Me Down” (4:49), “We Want It All” (3:00), “Future Of Today” (3:49), “Steel” (3:33), “Bored To The Bone” (3:56), “Dangerzone” (4:08), “Lawgiver” (4:35)
Anders Johansson – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Peter Ottosson – Guitars
Ulf Magnusson – Bass
Pelle Petersson - Drums