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Music Review: Green Carnation – Light of Day, Day of Darkness

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It’s not easy to write a constructive and informative review of a CD at the best of times, but when the album is a single 60-minute track, it becomes more of a challenge. At least I’m not going to get song titles mixed up.

I’ll start by mentioning that this is so far the only Green Carnation album I’ve heard. It was gifted to me by a friend after I spent some time droning on the merits of Halfax-based goth metal / darkwave band Paradise Lost. I can’t therefore compare this work to any of their previous or subsequent work, but like the latter-period work of fellow Scandinavian prog-metallers Opeth, they take considerable care to reference their influences throughout the piece.

There’s an extraordinary level of skill in the arrangement and planning of the piece. Although the piece is very clearly from a gothic metal background, it becomes a patchwork of styles, detailed by periods of free jazz, folk, choral voices, and delightfully, a Hammond B3 solo. Due to the brilliance of mainman Terje Vik Schei (otherwise known as Tchort), it’s a seamless journey. I was, perhaps somewhat negatively, expecting a stop-start affair with musical phrases and production techniques contorted around the need to cram in styles and instruments, and stretch the work over an hour, but this was unfounded. The song is held together firmly by a huge, metallic, baroque refrain, and travels through cycles of moods and atmospheres during the 60 minutes, like a vast German WWII battleship motoring through climates, darkness and light.

Despite the departures into softer, pastel-like surroundings, the traditions of gothic metal are strong throughout the work. Very occasionally, the vocals switch from a haunting, detached bass to a vicious growl, and drummer Anders Kobro unleashes the odd salvo of blast beats. But for the most part, Light of Day, Day of Darkness is a very beautiful amalgam of desolate melodies.

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