Album Review: Green Carnation – Leaves of Yesteryear

Green Carnation

Oozing with their trademark desolation, Norway’s Green Carnation return to the scene with their first album in almost 15 years entitled Leaves of Yesteryear, out on May 8th via Season of Mist. Band members’ years of experience in the genre are put to good use in a release that binds together the pyrrhic burden of doom charged by the villainy of progressive metal at its core. Diverse songwriting hints at a more ariose creativity worked out with a progressive milieu in mind, and makes for a passionately vivid record that calls on the listener not just to listen, but to truly sense. As an enduring bastion of the Norwegian metal scene, Green Carnation conveys greatness that demonstrates time doesn’t work against music and bands, and may actually be a good chance for improvement. It is actually time that has let Green Carnation to become bigger in their ambitions, with a release that continues to swathe their cloak of dusk across a growingly comprehensive realm of influences.

Leaves of Yesteryear pulls not just from the erudite scripts of atmospheric doom, but draws also from more progressive and melodic influences. Blazing and experimental passages of vigorous guitar solos brighten up otherwise charnel pieces with complexly entwined instrumental coating. Beseeching the listener to let the sadness to devour their souls is “My Dark Reflections of Life and Death,” an exhilarating mixture of despair and angst mirrored in a distressing vocal ebb and flow, that was previously released on the band’s eponymous 2000 album Journey to the End of the Night. Green Carnation reworked the song for this special occasion.

Kjetil Nordhus’ vocals on the opening self-titled lead single mourn in a repentant chorus leaning on mellow bass, courtesy of Stein Roger Sordal. A tranquil interlude allows for a curious guitar to bridge the gap between the sorrow and furt, providing rest from what would otherwise prove to be sweltering. This poignant attachment is not limited to “Leaves of Yesteryear” (the song); the album as a whole shows promises to implore incredible emotions in listeners.

Progressive elements shine through as brief delicacies in an otherwise heavy mix, highlighting the more refined technical capabilities of guitarists Terje Vik Schei and Bjørn Harstad that would otherwise drown in pure doom. Such a balanced sound is achieved at the expert hands of Endre Kirkesola, responsible for mixing Leaves of Yesteryear, with mastering handled by Maor Appelbaum. This is a ponderous, relentless album that seeks to combine the darkened atmosphere of doom metal with the never-ending intricacy of progressive metal in a contest to escape from the confines of either genre alone. Instruments and vocals are an unceasing flow, pulling and pushing against one another in exceptional symmetry. Such unity between stylistic goals and musician’s capabilities allow Leaves of Yesteryear to develop an entirely encompassing atmosphere that descends as a pervasive fog of aggressive gloom. The stylistic diversities found in prog twilight of “Sentinels” through the psychofolk rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude” are a result of intentional songwriting, arranging and a production that relies on instrumental pacing to set the wanted mood.

Green Carnation is a well-skilled and rehearsed unit that has an essential understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, which they have managed to turn into a clear and indestructible piece of mastery on Leaves of Yesteryear.

Leaves of Yesteryear is out on May 8th via Season of Mist; pre-order the album from Bandcamp here. Follow Green Carnation on Facebook.

Cover photo by Petter Sandell

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