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Green Carnation - The Acoustic Verses CD (album) cover


Green Carnation

Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars Norway's Green Carnation continue to defy classification with "The Acoustic Verses." In the beginning, they were known as a progressive metal band with their milestone "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" and then they went the hard rock route with "A Blessing in Disguise" and "The Quiet Offspring."

The fact that Green Carnation wants to explore new, different and exciting things, may partly be responsible for them being considered as one of the worst commercial bands in the world, cause just as soon as you think you have them figured out, they're off doing something else. But this is also why I love them so much, why they hold a very special place in my heart. The fact that they allow their music to breathe, to experiment and go to different places, it's like allowing your child to grow and learn from all the different experiences in his life.

The Acoustic Verses is again very different from past offerings. It's not a folk album although you'll find some folk influences; and it's not a straight ahead progressive rock album either, though it is progressive it's also very light on the rock side of things. The band has taken a very mellow approach, they have served up an all acoustic offering with no heavy electric guitars whatsoever. Of course the band is not afraid to use other instruments such as the mellotron, violin, viola, cello, ebow, theremin, Fender rhodes and piano.

Onto the music then, shall we? The album opens with the emotionally plaintive "Sweet Leaf," a song written entirely by Tchort who apparently, had been working on for quite some time. It's not a duet, Kjetil Nordhus is clearly the lead vocalist but it does include bass player Stein Roger Sordal on backing vocals and together they sound pretty damn good. There is a distinct 70's vibe to this one, an excellent opening track.

"The Burden is Mine.Alone" is Stein Roger Sordal's song. He wrote it, plays the acoustic guitar and bass on it and anything else you might find on there and he does the vocals as well. This is one very sweet haunting song, not the kind you listen too while driving on a bright sunny day in mid-summer, but the kind that you sit down too on a cloudy cold winter night. The more I listen to this one, the more I'm thinking that it's probably just a matter of time before this guy goes solo. Outstanding performance!

The fact that everybody can contribute to the creation of an album is part of Green Carnation's strength and charm as a band. Even though the members are spread out around the world doing their own thing, they come together and pool their energy and then they thrill us with some magic, surprising their fans time and time again by refusing to conform to the mundane, the typical, the ordinary musical compositions and patterns of the past. No, Green Carnation is not satisfied with following any proven recipe, they mix things up, and they end up cooking something that is good, very delicious and most importantly, long-lasting and lifelong. Stylistically speaking, there's only a handful of bands in the world that can boast being true chameleons when it comes to categorizing them in one particular genre or another. But most agree that Green Carnation are really great at whatever it is they end up doing.

Back to The Acoustic Verses, Kjetil Nordhus contributed the following two-part track: "Maybe?" The song begins with just a simple strumming acoustic guitar and Nordhus trademark chilling vocal delivery. At about the halfway mark the song picks up the pace and gets very groovy all of a sudden, very dreamy like sequence, the atmosphere simply pouring out of the speakers, very effective ending to the song. maybe?

There's definitely an Irish folk feel to "Alone," a track based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same name. Guest musician Leif Wiese provides the wonderful violin work on this one. Add the fact that it comes with a very up-beat tempo and Nordhus wonderful vocal lines and you have a winning combination.

The albums apogee is the three part Stein Roger Sordal penned 9-29-045. This fifteen and a half minute Pink Floydish track, can actually be broken into four distinct parts in my view. "My Greater Cause, part I" comes complete with a violin lead and is a rather lengthy introduction to the piece. I also find that this part can be broken in two parts, the part with the solo and the part following the 5m55s mark. "Part I" ends with the beginning of the instrumental "Home Coming, part II" with its beautiful melody and dreamy like sequence. This middle part can be considered as the climax and starts at about the 7m30s mark and ends at the 10m55s mark. Sordal closes this three part series with "House of Cards, part III." The band pretty much throws everything at you during the entire length of the track.Rhodes effects, synths, mellotron, viola, cello, slide guitar, haunting vocals, its all here.

Bernt Andre Moen, guest musician on cello here and he may as well be considered as the seventh member of the band. Moen was the keyboardist who left the band but he still wrote the instrumental "Child Play part 3." The first two parts to this one appeared on The Quiet Offspring and while this 3rd part was written back then, the band simply decided to save it for later and it was perfect for this album. Moen played all the instruments on this most relaxing piece.

The album ends on a high note with the somewhat jazzy and bluesy feel of "High Tide Waves," a plaintive track co-written by guitarist Michael S Krumins and drummer Tommy Jackson. Some gentle verses and some heavier choruses are emphasized here, and it contains a most inspired (the second part anyway) acoustic guitar solo.

I can't recommend this album enough, especially to fans of acoustic and progressive music. As far as the 4 star rating goes, based on the repeat value of the disc, this album actually scores 4.5 stars, but rounded down to 4 because of its overall length, less than 44 minutes. So, what this means exactly is that if you are a fan of progressive acoustic music, this album will still be on high rotation in your CD player after 50 spins or long after the probationary listening period has come and gone.

Report this review (#71306)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars beautiful and accessible soft rock!

This is one of the biggest musical surprises I have had this year. Green Carnation, well known because of their 60-minute long epic, releases a stripped down, mostly acoustic and relaxing album with no prog elements to be found. The surprise is not only that they released such a different album, but that it's a great example of music in this style. The music, which has perfect production, consists of rich harmonies between instruments and voice. The music is slightly unconventional, making it even more interesting. Trust me, this is not the typical "metal goes soft" album, there is only one solo in the album!

There is a fifteen minute song that might fool you into thinking that it is a prog rock epic, but it isn't. There is not much complexity in the piece. Instead, you have atmosphere, musical harmony, great and melodious vocals, and symphonic arrangements. rather than being an epic, the song is actually divided into sections that do not have much to do with each other. The result is just 15 minutes of beautiful music. It is an excellent song, but for me, it is not superior to the shorter songs of the album.

Take for example Sweet Leaf's perfect instrumentation, creating imagery and landscapes without needing to pay attention to the words. What makes this song, as well as any song in this album work is how perfectly harmonized the band is musically. The burden Is Mine shows a simpler composition, with acoustic guitar, vocals, and barely audible complementary instrumentation. Maybe? I think is where Green Carnation impressed me the most in this album. Divided in two sections, the first being just an acoustic guitar being strummed with the needed chords and memorable vocals, especially in the choruses. The second half is slightly faster-paced and features a brilliantly-crafted buildup that doesn't go overboard. Alone is faster-paced, still acoustic, with Irish influences. The short piano-instrumental Child's Play Part 3 is very successful at painting a dark atmosphere. Very successful is an understatement, this instrumental is superbly written and arranged! The medium-lengthed and different High Tide Waves ends the album very strongly, and while the song sounds a bit differently in style to the other songs, I am very happy that it is here. This song contrasts light and heavy perfectly, without any of those being too extreme. there are no electric guitar riffs nor growls, but the choruses are certainly heavier than anything in the album. You still have acoustic guitars and somewhat unconventional percussion, but what gives it power is the desperate and punchy vocal lines that almost are screaming "I'm holding head above wateeeeeeeER". After the second chorus, the only guitar solo in the album comes, a beautiful and melodic acoustic guitar solo that gives way to the last chorus. Wonderful song that finishes a wonderful album.

Highlights: None?

Let Downs: None?

Report this review (#103023)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An acoustic album by Green Carnation? Hell, why not?!

Each time GC continues to surprise us. After the 2002 one track masterpiece "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness", they gave us the two pretty nice follow up albums "Blessing in Disguise" and "The Quiet Offspring". Although those two albums were a bit more "plane rock albums" rather than progressive masterpieces, with "The Acoustic Verses" they seem to explore a completely different direction again... What a pleasant surprise!

Three long and interesting reviews have already been written about this album, so I will keep it brief. This entire album is really worth it. All songs are good to excellent and if you like acoustic albums and Prog in general this will be the perfect album for you! (Actually this album will also please many people who aren't interested in Prog at all!) The only negative remark I could make is that the album is too short :-( I love the variety in instrumentation very much and am pleased to hear strings like cello, viola and violin on it. The string sections reminisces the "LOD, DOD" album, but now all done in an acoustic setting. I think with "The Acoustic Verses" GC would make a high chance on the title for "Best Acoustic Album of all times"

Together with SYLVAN's "Posthumous Silence" this is my favourite album of 2006!

4.5 stars

Report this review (#110053)
Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Green Carnation plays acoustic. This album may sounds a bit similar in a way with Opeth’s Damnation, because both make an acoustic album with dark atmospheres. The Acoustic Verses is another ‘unusual’ album from Green Carnation, like what they did with their well-known “Light of Day, Day of Darkness”, though both albums don’t sound alike.

Straight to the album then, most of the tracks in this album are quite short, except for ‘9-29-045’, and ‘High Tide Waves’. Drums are rarely used on this album, most of the tracks only played using guitar, piano, and some violin as well on some tracks.

The first track, ‘Sweet Leaf’ is a good opening track. The music and the vocal form a good harmony with a dark atmosphere.

‘The Burden is Mine…Alone’ sounds like a transition track from the first track to the next one. Nevertheless, it stills a good track. Stein Roger Sordal also doing the singing here, and he did the job pretty good, I think.

‘Maybe’, this song brings the atmosphere of the album deeper and darker as well. This is a great haunting song, the vocal here is chilling, and so does the music, especially from the middle part towards the end.

‘Alone’ is a track that based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The violin sounds in this track make the song sounds a bit like a folk song, and somewhat a bit more cherish than the other tracks on this album. A great track by the way, and also my favorite track on this album.

Then comes ‘9-29-045’. This track is composed in three parts, the first ones; ‘My Greater Cause’ returns the album’s dark atmosphere. The guitar and violin here sounds pretty good, and quite chilling as well. Part 2, ‘Home Coming’ is an instrumental part with a great melody. This part sounds like a transition between the first and the last part. After a broadcasting voice, the song comes to the final part, ‘House of Cards’. This part has haunting vocals, synths, violins, and a great melody as well. This track could be considered as a masterpiece from this album.

Next is ‘Child’s Play, Pt 3’, a fully instrumental track. The first 2 parts can be found on their previous album, “The Quiet Offspring”. The piano melody in this track is really good.

‘High Tide Waves’ is a great closing track, and sounds a bit jazzy. The vocal on this track sometimes goes heavier at some parts. The middle part of this track has an amazing guitar solo (acoustic, of course).

Overall, this is a great album from Green Carnation. The songs here are well composed, though the album has a rather short length. This album deserves 4 stars.

Report this review (#110559)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After listening to Light of Day, Day of Darkness and other of Green Carnation's albums, I have to say that The Acoustic Verses is vastly different, but in a very good way. It is by no means a metal album, but still an excellent album nonetheless. The acoustic guitar is fantastic throughout. What makes The Acoustic Verses so good to me is the mood of the album. It is a very soft and even quiet album at points. I find it to be very peaceful and relaxing, particularly songs like "Sweet Leaf", "The Burden is Mine..... Alone" and "9-29-045". It is one of the more comforting albums in my collection.

I'd recommend this album to anybody who enjoys soft and peaceful music. The Acoustic Verses is definitely one of the top releases of 2006!

Report this review (#113241)
Posted Friday, February 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Interesting experiment this one.

The album isn't fully acoustic, as the title may indicate, but the band have gone acoustic on the guitar side of things. And due to that, this album has a unique sound to it, that's for sure.

The songs here are all melancholy, mostly lush affairs; quiet and haunting songs where atmosphere, mood and emotion is brought to the forefront. All instruments are carefully and gently played.

When it comes to style, the mellowest ballads of Marillion and Fish comes to mind as being the closest references here; even if the music isn't closely related the moods and the atmospheres are indeed.

One of the highlights from 2006; and should be checked out by anyone not scared of the thought of listening to acoustic guitar based music.

Report this review (#119155)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I have to thank Evenless for moving me to purchase this record because I wasn't going to bother considering this is an acoustic album. Tchort says in the liner notes that "The experimentation peaks with this new acoustic album...we've pushed ourselves to the limit of what still fits under the name GREEN CARNATION". He goes on to say that this record captures much of their identity in acoustic form.The melanchoilic melodies, as well as the dark, unique and beautiful sounds. I would say this has more in common with OPETH's "Damnation" than with PAIN OF SALVATION's "12:5".

I was thinking that "Sweet Leaf" might be a cover of the song from my favourite BLACK SABBATH record "Master of Reality" but no it's not. This is a melancholic song with acoustic guitar and vocals. Drums come in after a minute, creating a really nice beat. I like the melody towards the end of the song when the vocals stop and you just hear acoustic guitar and keys, it reminds me of PORCUPINE TREE. "The Burden is Mine...Alone" is such a haunting song with touching lyrics. The acoustic guitar throughout is fantastic ! "Maybe ?" features piano, vocals and drums that lead the way until the spacey sounds of the therimin comes in after 2 minutes and later after 4 minutes. "Alone" is based on an Edgar Allan Poe poem with violin, acoustic guitar and vocals the focus. "9-29-045" is over 15 minutes long with mellotron and cello both making an appearance in this epic. The song takes a while to get going but I love the keys with acoustic guitar melody 6 minutes in. It comes back in a similar way after 9 minutes and continues. I really like the "House of Cards" section of this song. "Child's Play Part 3" is a continuation of parts one and two from the album "The Quiet Offspring". On that album the first part was mellow and mournful with acoustic guitar, while part two had some beautiful piano melodies with fragile vocals. I tell you this because the third part here fits right in with the piano dominating the song with some nice melodies. No lyrics. The final song "High Tide Waves" is ok with the vocals being the focus and some violin as well.

It took me some time to really warm up to this album, but it was worth the effort.Tchort has done it again !

Report this review (#123515)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I typically do not like "unplugged" or "acoustic" version of any band. But for prog met bands? Hmmm . I really wanted to try them. First of all when I listened to Pain of Salvation "12:05" I really like it very much. I admire Pain of Salvation because in fact with acoustic version they still can project energy and enthusiasm in their music. For Green Carnation? I really did not know because I could not imagine after enjoying the heavy side of Green Carnation through its "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" I really did not think that listening to acoustic version of Green Carnation would be interesting. But I gave it a try, anyway, and to my surprise . I like it!

Of course whenever I enjoy the acoustic version of rock bands I always associate my mind with the band in its original setting (electric version) and not comparing to the true acoustic music like Simon and Garfunkle or Joan Baez or Bob Dylan or Jose Feliciano. This album in its entirety delivers a stream of acoustic music nicely with a bland of acoustic guitar, piano and vocal harmonies. Each track is good in composition as well as production. When I first listened to this album I did not feel something special until it reached track 3 "Maybe?". Since I found this track, I trace back other music subtleties until finally I found "joy" in listening to this album. I don't know why it happened to me like that. It might be due to the fact that this third track has "similar" vein with Pain of Salvation "12:05" album. The way vocal delivers the notes as well as acoustic guitar plays the rhythm section and the string section that accompanies them make the music so excellent. The keyboard solo in the middle of the track sounds excellent to my ears due to its long sustain punch. It's hard to deny this as good track from this album. Really good, indeed.

Well, actually I have no problem with previous two tracks. The opening track "Sweet Leaf" is actually a good one to start the album with good vocal line and combined efforts of acoustic guitar and string section through keyboard. "The Burden is Mine . Alone" is also a good song as well. It starts with excellent acoustic guitar work and transparent vocal line. "Alone" has a great violin / cello work that accompanies the music nicely.

Overall, I would say that this is a very good acoustic album. The melody and harmonies of each song are excellent. Each song has good structure and all songs in the album form a cohesive music as a whole. If I compare with Pain of Salvation's acoustic album, this one is much softer, less dynamic. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#132732)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I finally got around to picking this album up when I found it at a good price in a used record store while driving through Kansas. I was pretty surprised to find such a new CD in the used bins, and listened to it all the way down Interstate 70 through the otherwise incredibly boring state of Missouri. The tensely restrained acoustic guitar and eerie mellotron take on a whole different mood when you listen to it in the early dusk evening surrounded by miles upon miles of waving wheat fields and drab farmhouses. Kind of creepy actually.

In many ways this is an improvement over the previous release ‘The Quiet Offspring’. The production sounds much richer, probably thanks to the crisp acoustic guitar and sonically pleasing sound mix. But overall I think there’s a bit of a lack of variety, and by the later tracks it tends to lose one’s attention just a bit. Although “Sweet Leaf” is a solid opening track, “The Burden is Mine... Alone” tends a little toward a more commercial sounding introspective ballad kind of thing – a bit like the more mellow Opeth records. Okay I guess, but this one particular track seems a bit out-of-place with the rest of the album.

“Maybe?” is possibly the most laid-back track on the record, enhanced a bit by a whispering theremin and Bjřrn Harstad’s tremolo. I kept expecting this one to explode at some point, but it simply fades away at the end leaving me a bit disappointed.

The strings on “Alone” offer some variety from what up to now has been mostly understated vocals and acoustic meandering. This is a solid track that sounds a lot longer than the 3-1/2 minutes it actually plays.

The lumbering “9-29-045” probably demands more exploration before it can be fully appreciated. On the surface this seems much too long for what it offers, which is simply much more acoustic strumming and rather abstract lyrics. I may revisit this one after a few more months of listening to it, but for now I’d say this could have benefited from some additional instrumentation and a tempo change or two.

The “Child’s Play, Pt III” instrumental is vintage Green Carnation, especially the stark piano. This album could have been much stronger had the presence of piano been as strong throughout as it is on this track. Another solid composition that could easily have been expanded on. Green Carnation are at their best when performing instrumental in my opinion.

Finally, “High Tide Waves” offers some modest forays into sonic exploration and an occasional tense moment or two. A decent closing to what overall is a fairly subdued record.

I really like Green Carnation, and this is the kind of metal that I think is underappreciated by many progressive music fans. But the lack of real variety in ‘The Acoustic Verses’ demonstrates one of the common failings of bands like Green Carnation, Opeth, and to a lesser extent Porcupine Tree; namely, the lack of grit and tension in their music that the pedigree of their musicians almost demands. This is a very good record, but the instruction of a bit of fiber would have made it outstanding. I’ll give this three stars, reluctantly, but well recommended to fans of the band and to purist progressive fans who don’t otherwise delve into the metal side of the community.


Report this review (#138887)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars really. This is a good album, but it sounds very much the same all the way through. I keep hoping for it to speed up and get louder. There is enough excellent acoustic guitar and other non traditional instruments to make this an interesting listen. I am wavering between 3 and 4 stars but will round down this time. I have now heard two Green Carnation albums and I will more than likely pick up another one. This is so much different than LoDDoD that I really have no idea what to expect if they release a new album.
Report this review (#184645)
Posted Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I ain't gonna drown!

And no, Green Carnation haven't drowned with this release. A stately dark album made with soft evocative passages and a sense of melody unheard of by bands in this style. (although classifying Green Carnation is quite difficult, at times.)

Starting off with an almost uplifting melody on sweet leaf, it morphs into this melancholy rush of prettiness that you just don't see. not just in prog, but in metal, as well. The acoustic guitar work is captivating, and lucid. Fluidity permeates the album, and goes hand in hand with the soft, yet powerful sounds. No showing off, here, or anywhere in the album, really. The Burden Is Mine is a shockingly bare bones tune that grabs you with its tear jerking and emotional lyrics beside haunting pale acoustic runs. Did I mention how this music is absolutely beautiful? The next stomach ripping atmospheric song is Maybe? This is another eerie melancholic track with light keyboard touches alongside dark vocals and moving guitar.

Alone is an album peak, with the strings soaring throughout, it is so fresh and pretty. Never bright, really, but always interesting and emotional. The song is quick and bombastic, absolutely stunning. Following its heels would be the album's suite "9-29-045" I quite enjoy it, but feel it is a bit overlong, for the album's cohesion as a whole. this doesn't bother me enough to really detract from the overall music, however.

The album ends with High Tide Waves. It has an overwhelming and dark feel, that ends it off amazingly. The atmosphere is of melancholic drowning. In all, a great song. The album isn't perfect, though. Some of the arrangements are sparse, and The suite is a bit overlong. The lyrics take a dip here and there, and The album maintains one main feel, and never really goes anywhere else. I love it, though. I hold it right up there with LODDOD. Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#211802)
Posted Monday, April 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an incredible album by the band :GREEN CARNATION. I can't deny that I loved it since the very first time I listened to it. It has wonderful acoustic arrangements and all the instruments used are very well managed by the musicians. All the songs include a combination of melodic voices, great violins with folk influences, great and soft drums that enhances the atmosphere of the songs. My favorite tracks are without any doubt the first two, "Sweet Leaf" (listen to it and tell me if one of the singers doesn't resemble Bono of U2) and the beautiful "The Burden is Mine ... Alone". Very good album, indeed.
Report this review (#1036349)
Posted Monday, September 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars On this last studio album by the lads, Green Carnation showcase yet another of their talents: moody acoustic tracks not far different from "Damnation" by Opeth. This album was successfully played live in its entirety with a couple of orchestra players,

The tracks are obviously much less agressive than on the last two albums, featuring more emotional and quiet vocals, acoustic or quiet electric guitars. The typical Scandinavian melancholy feeling is omnipresent and the album is recommended for rainy days.

"Maybe" is the first more epic track with extended uncomplex instrumental part, while "Alone" has a nice violin enrichment motive. The longest track brings with it several reflective moments and different moments with/without vocals.

"Child's play, part III" is a fantastic moody piano track, name me one doom/gothic metal band that can craft something like this. If you want more of this, go listen to the previous album with a similar piano mood but richer sound.

"High tide waves" has a vocal similar to Bono from U2 and some pleasant acoustic guitar.

A decent good-bye by the band and it's a pity that the creative force evaporated after that one.

Report this review (#2286107)
Posted Sunday, December 8, 2019 | Review Permalink

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