- Artist: Green Carnation
- Album: Leaves of Yesteryear
- Genre: Progressive Metal – Progressive Doom Metal
- Release Date: May 8th, 2020
- Country: Norway
- Highlights: Hounds – Leaves of Yesteryear – My Dark Reflections of Life and Death
- Rating: 9.2/10
From Grief They Have Risen
In my adolescence, one band that introduced classy, prestigious metal to me, something to be both hooked on and impressed by and at the same time feel elated to be a fan of, was indeed Green Carnation. It was mid-to-late 2000s and I was steering away from Anathema, in whom I was kinda disappointed, that I stumbled upon this band, simply because I was looking for a band with a death/doom/gothic sound with poetic and touching lyrics. I gave Journey to the End of the Night a listen; I fell into darkness and the rest is my history.
But 14 years since their acoustic masterpiece (Acoustic Verses, 2006), here they are with a five-piece classic progressive metal album, one which classy progheads would cherish so dearly. Leaves of Yesteryear is as much of a commendation and celebration of GC’s roots as it is a beacon lighting up the band’s future. With a runtime of almost three quarters, and considering the fact that there are two cover songs, this may not sound like a “genuine studio album;” but it is very much a decent work of progressive music.
The album kicks off with the title track, which had been made available through a lyric video a few months prior to the release of the album and had me hyped to get the chance to get my hands on the album. 8 minutes of quality musicianship, with a short ambient, spacy intro, keyboard lines right out of 1970s space/prog rock works, an emotive interlude, a winsome melody which then extends into a refined solo and a power-metal passage at the end of the song with a second similar-sounding solo to max the game in one single track is what this song is!
Sentinels comes second. This is another instance of diversity of sound and song structure. What seems like a piece in epic doom metal soon turns into heavy metal with a classic and catchy riff, all thanks to Tchort’s and Berserk’s art of guitar playing. Besides that, we once again see Kenneth Silden’s spacy keyboards which take one back in time to the prog scene of roughly five decades ago.
Following Sentinels, the album offers its first cover song. My Dark Reflections of Life and Death is the band’s tribute to their past as it was first released as the third track on Journey to the End of the Night (2000), Green Carnation’s debut. However, despite keeping its gothic doom-death root and representing it here and there, it is a more modern, forward-looking version of the song which navigates itself away from said genre of early GC and more towards a clean progressive feat of over 17 minutes. In spite of its length, this track is permeated with diversity, technique and art.
The last so-called new piece on the album, Hounds, opens with a folkish passage built upon acoustic guitar and a fair amount of ambience. The most appealing part of this song is Stein Sordal’s sweet bass which is practically the driving force for the most part of the song. Having said that, the song turns on its head somewhere after 6 and a half minutes and melody takes over, even Kjetil Nordhus’s singing is more melodic. I particularly like the solo as it prioritizes melody over mere shredding.
This short excursion comes to and end with a classic Black Sabbath track, Solitude. It first appeared on the legends’ third album, Master of Reality (1971), and it possesses a rather uncommon sound, compared to other BS songs at the time and is a reflection of their experimentation with this newly-born baby of our called “heavy metal”. The Norwegian proggers have taken the song and, keeping its doleful and dismal mood, have given it a modern sound, almost to a New Age level, which is a tad bit too soft. This may be the only drawback of the album. But anyway, to some, that could be a perfect way to end and album.
Other factors than the music, namely the artwork and the lyrics are of equal excellence. The hallucinatory artwork of Niklas Sundin (a long-time collaborator with the band and the artist of most of their artworks) is so befitting of the nature of this album, as well as being effortlessly intricate and layered. The verses of the album, moreover, are both introspective and simply stative, as in My Dark Reflections of Life and Death or Leaves of Yesteryear and narrative, as in Sentinels, and in one instance, which is Hounds, they enjoy both qualities.
In summary, Leaves of Yesteryear is the perfect album Green Carnation fans (here is one!) could have asked for. It is true that the runtime of the album is short, and it is true that there are only three new songs, and two others which are only covers, but that should matter not in the least bit. It is a masterpiece that sums up the band’s rich history and simultaneously points to what they are intending to present in the years to come, which I hope will be long and filled with more frequently-published albums of this or even greater caliber.
- Lyrics: 8.5
- Artwork: 10
- Musicianship: 9.0
- Vocals: 9.5
- Overall: 9.2