Great comebacks always bring great expectations with them. GREEN CARNATION return to the scene with the album “Leaves of Yesteryear,” under the Seasons of Mist label, fourteen years after “Acoustic Verses.”
Formed as a death metal band in Kristiansand, Norway, back in 1990, GREEN CARNATION disbanded shortly afterwards and came back with the first full-length release ten years later in 2000, making the band one of the main expressions of the Norwegian prog metal scene in the past twenty years.
”Leaves of Yesteryear” shows how the band’s trademark sound has been preserved throughout the years but track-by-track also proves how an evolution in the band’s sound may occur without any major compromise. This album is like a bridge between the past and the future.
The first song, which is also the title track, immediately catches the listener’s attention with its prog-oriented vibe: the journey begins and Tchort (guitarist, founder, main songwriter and, as of today, sole original member of the band), proves to be the good ol’ riff-man we’ve been truly missing for more than a decade.
”Sentinels,” with its appealing melody, easily ends up being a real ear-worm. The emphasis on the chorus, the expressive and dramatic skills of Kjetil Nordhus as a singer, and the relatively short duration make it perfectly balanced as a proggy-yet-catchy tune.
The following song, ”My Dark Reflections of Life and Death,” may sound not new to anyone who’s familiar with the full-length ”Journey to the End of Night,” since it happens to be a re-recording of the third track on that album. There are some minor changes in the lyrics and the verses are in a different order when compared to the original version, not to mention the different singer; on the band’s first album, in fact, the role of the singer was covered by several guests. This song summarizes, in my opinion, the connection between the past and the present of GREEN CARNATION – the current version sounds more mature in a way, but it still pays its tribute to the band’s first steps as a crucial phase, especially regarding its identity and distinctive features.
The next to last song, “Hounds,” which is also the second-longest tune on the album (approximately ten minutes), begins with an interesting acoustic intro that goes on for a couple of minutes. After that, massive, heavy riffing kicks in. Echoes of classic prog from the 70s dominate the whole song. The role of the bass is particularly remarkable since it builds and sustains the entire structure, a feature that is not generally very frequently heard in metal. The singer’s skills are, once again, emphasized, especially in the middle and final part of the song.
The last song is a cover version of BLACK SABBATH’s “Solitude.” It ends up being very close to the original, but at the same time, deeply reflects GREEN CARNATION’s personal sound, combining the inimitable BLACK SABBATH’s trademarks with the Norwegian band’s uniqueness.
In the end, ”Leaves of Yesteryear” will not disappoint the expectations of anyone who’s been waiting a long time for it. Given this as a result, it was totally worth it.
Written by Licia Mapelli
1. Leaves of Yesteryear
3. My Dark Reflections of Life and Death
Kjetil Nordhus – vocals
Tchort – guitar
Bjørn Harstad – guitar
Stein Roger Sordal – bass
Kenneth Silden – keyboards
Jonathan Alejandro Perez – drums