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Green Carnation - The Quiet Offspring CD (album) cover


Green Carnation


Experimental/Post Metal

3.38 | 102 ratings

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2 stars 10 Years On: Green Carnation's The Quiet Offspring

I don't think anyone really had a problem with A Blessing in Disguise, in the end. Sure, following up an album-long epic that has since become a prog metal classic with a song-oriented album is obviously going to get a bit of backlash, but what else were they going to do to follow it up? Retire? Do another one?

This, however, is not something that needed to happen. A Blessing In Disguise was an exercise in restraint, Green Carnation seeing if they could still make quality material after the non-restraint of Light of Day, Day of Darkness. And they did it well. That album had some incredible songs, with lengths that didn't make you nauseous, being progressive at the same time as being restrained, and was one of the best progressive albums of 2003, the only real sign of them slipping in quality was the really lazy "As Life Flows By" which sounded like a twenty-minute rush-job, with absolutely no complexity whatsoever.

The Quiet Offspring, unfortunately, offers no such compositional quality. Right from the intro we're treated to straight-up laziness. I mean seriously, how long did it take them to come up with the opening riff for the title track? Palm muted chugging in the most basic rhythm? Yeah, sure, this is exactly how we want to open the new record, let's show them how great we are at coming up with guitar riffs! The rest of this opening track is actually not as bad as the rest, aside from a rather edgy inclusion of a few swear words, but boy that intro had me rolling my eyes. It sounds like the sort of riff a 12 year old Slipknot fan would write after playing guitar for half an hour.

To call this album progressive metal is not just a push, it's a blatant lie. Whenever metal fans use the term "alternative metal", it's always with a bit of elitism, because that term has so often been synonymous with "metal I don't like", but I do like a great deal of alternative metal, and not only is this definitely an alternative metal record, it's a bad one. All the songs have that good old cruchy semi-industrial alt-metal guitar tone, and are chock full with riffs that involve nothing but palm mutes and power chords, and the vocals here go for some buttrock-esque tough guy gruff singing (with equally terrible lyrics). This isn't something I would complain about (too much) if the songwriting was good. But if you've heard the first half of this record, you know that it isn't.

"Between the Gentle Small and the Standing Tall" is without a doubt the worst song Green Carnation have come near, combining bad blues rock riffs with cheap post-grunge "Yeah!"s and "Bring it on!"s, with a rather disgusting pseudo-sexuality that reminds me of no other band but Nickelback. There's a little bit more skill here than most post-grunge bands, and the song's bridge breathes a bit of melodic prog into the mix that is refreshing, but there's no denying the majority of the songwriting is right the way down in the lowest-of-lows within rock music territory. "The Everlasting Moment" is another pretty poor track, as is "Dead But Dreaming", but aren't inexcusably awful like the second track. The former boasts one of the most cringeworthy riffs I have ever listened to, pushing beyond the Nickelback influence I mentioned before into some new territory of corniness that I really can't find a comparison point for. The rest of the song isn't too bad, but a bad riff repeated throughout can easily kill any moments of goodness. "Dead But Dreaming" goes straight back to buttrock though, but in addition to the Nickelback riffs, we get tryhard gruff "I'm a big guy" vocals, and one of the weakest choruses on the album.

Obviously there are little blips of goodness in this section of the album - "Purple Door, Pitch Black" has a really nice chorus, with a melody that reminds me greatly of Amorphis. It's pretty much the first time on this album I feel Green Carnation have done something good, but the rest of the song, being weak and cliched, tries its hardest to contradict that.. "Just When You Think It's Safe" and "A Place for Me" also aren't bad songs, but they not really good ones either. There are no godawful riffs or cheap radio-rock gimmicks in those tracks, but at the same time there's nothing that pulls them out as being a great songs, they're just kind of better than what surrounds them.

But it wouldn't be a bad album without a sudden transition to good for the last few songs. Part one of "Child's Play" hints at this finish, with its use of violin and fingerpicked acoustic guitar being considerably more artistic and sonically interesting than anything else on this record, but the album only really gets good at track nine, "Pile of Doubt". The opening few notes of that track alone have a better chord progression that the entire first eight songs combined, and even when it goes into a bit of power metal-esque riffing which isn't really warranted, it retains that strong melody and emotional link that I feel this album has been missing. The song has a weak verse, as well as some cheap parts reminiscent of the shortfalls of the first half of the album, but a pretty great chorus and an excellent lead melody progression remind me so clearly of the Green Carnation of the past. "When I Was You" continues this progression, being the first actually solidly good song on the album. A slow, building, progressive track, it again shows signs of what Green Carnation were two years prior, and then the album closes off with "Child's Play", part two, another pretty solid piece. None of these songs are groundbreaking or amazing, and in the context of a record like A Blessing in Disguise, they would actually be pretty lowly ranked, but they do show that Green Carnation still have some compositional skill left in them for this record.

The Quiet Offspring is truly a sad record. It's not the worst thing I've heard, and there are some pretty nice parts in it, but it shows Green Carnation regressing entirely from great epic prog metal to great non-epic prog metal to hard rock songs with aims at 30 year old midlife crisis blokes who go out to the pub every night to score underage girls. Or whatever Nickelback's current demographic is. Aside from the choice moments in the last few songs, this album runs between inoffensive boredom and absolutely disgusting degeneracy. Really sad to see coming out of a solid band.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 2/5 |


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