Green Carnation - The Acoustic Verses - The End Records 2006
Running Time: 43:22
When word came down that Norway's Green Carnation would be following up 2005's breakthrough success, The Quiet Offspring, with an acoustic album, some dissenters grabbed their shovels and proceeded to wait for the album that would finally bury any trace of "metal" in the sound of the band known for the epic classic Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness. Others, though, awaited this release with baited breath, interested to see where Green Carnation would be going next and being mostly, if not 100% willing to follow.
The percussive strumming and tasteful organ intro to 'Sweet Leaf' gives way to Kjetil's plaintive vocals, which are joined by Mick Fleetwood-inspired drumming, lending the song a strong 70s vibe, reminiscent of songs like Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain' and 'Wooden Ships' by Crosby, Stills, Nash, And Young. 'The Burden Is Mine...Alone' was the title track from a limited-edition EP released for Green Carnation's 2005 European tour, and it makes it's debut for worldwide audiences here. Subtle finger-picking blends with sampled (?) choirs, and brings to mind Nick Drake or labelmates Antimatter, with its acceptance of failure, and resignation to it. Music for the sunny days, this is not. I'd like to have heard more from drummer in 'The Burden...', but when his rhythmic talents resurface halfway through 'Maybe?', their return adds a dynamic to the music, which has always been a strong point of Green Carnation's output. There are peaks as well as valleys, streams as well as oceans,...day and night. That, I think, is part of the reason this band has had and retains such a loyal following. Edgar Allan Poe's forlorn 'Alone' provides the lyrical basis for the song of the same name, Tchort's syncopated guitars melding with Kenneth Silden's keys and string section, and leading us into the album's centerpiece, the fifteen minute-plus '9-29-045'. Perfect in execution, Green Carnation manages to channel the musical spirit of Pink Floyd and Genesis (the Peter Gabriel era), interspersing apocalyptic dialogue with muted guitars, subdued Rhodes, creating an Orwellian/Huxleyan saga, equal parts dream and nightmare. Nordhus' work is crystalline, emotive, and stark, in my opinion granting him a place as one of progressive music's most versatile vocalists. 'Childs Play Part 3' is another instrumental chapter in the song cycle begun on The Quiet Offspring. 'High Tide Waves' ends The Acoustic Verses on a more postive note, determination breathing forth Tommy Jackson's lyrics of "I'm holding head above water...you can't break me.".
Musically exquisite, lyrically challenging, and instantly memorable. The Acoustic Verses being released so early in the year sets the mark high for other bands, and gives Green Carnation fans a deeper look into one of metal's (yes, metal's) most uncompromising entities.