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Not Really Metal - But A Great Record Nonetheless - 91%

Erin_Fox, October 29th, 2006

It is well known that the members of Green Carnation possess an interest in various, contrasting forms of music. Willingness to attempt a diverse realm of influences has caused the members of Green Carnation to develop into extraordinarily well-rounded musicians.

On this record, the Norwegian group reveals a mellower side of their musically schizophrenic persona that is more akin to a combination of mid-career Pink Floyd fused with the types of melodies displayed on Alice In Chains’ “Jar Of Flies” and “Sap” albums.

Featuring arrangements that are designed touch upon a substantial quantity of varying emotions; “The Acoustic Verses” is a great effort from beginning to end.

Most assuredly mood music, a certain frame of mind is recommended in order to properly perceive the intent behind the somber “Alone”, a song which incorporates an edgy string arrangement or the equally glum and introspective “The Burden Is Mine…Alone”, a track that finds guitarist Tchort and singer Kjetil Nordhus complementing each other in a Page/Plant fashion. Many will be in agreement that the emotive, resounding singing on this record is Nordhaus’ best work to date

Delicate yet haunting, the Nordhaus-penned “Maybe?” features a shimmering break that makes the song more than unique. Excellent dramatic construction leads to wispy, drifting tones giving the track an ethereal quality that makes it one of the best of the record.

Particularly interesting is that these tracks were penned a range of players, yet the album is very cohesive as a singular artistic statement. Cellist Bernt Andre Moen gets the writing credit for “Child’s Play Part 3”, a piece that is highlighted by fluttering piano and shifting modulations by the stringed instruments. In the meantime, the group’s ability to shift moods is displayed best on “High Tide Waves”, as Nordhaus makes an aggressive presence betwixt his low-toned, sleepy verses.

As guest players Moen, cellist Gustav Ekeberg and violinist Leif Wiese accompany the group; an orchestral atmosphere builds, giving way to the singular acoustic guitar melodies of Tchort. Although generally a very prevalent member of the group, Tommy Jackson’s performances are downplayed here, opting for subtle accompaniments that result in more textured music, generally speaking.

A captivating experience in its entirety, “The Acoustic Verses” succeeds on all levels, taking the creativity and expressive performance of this talented group of players to new heights and solidifying Green Carnation’s position amongst the best songcrafters of their kind. In all justice, your attention to this fine album is strictly compulsory.

Great Stuff - 90%

Sraiken, October 26th, 2006

This album is an amazingly good progressive rock album. It’s filled with, as the name would suggest, acoustic guitars. The vocals bear a really strange resemblance to Bono from U2 at times, but without all the drama of his vocals.

Overall, the album is just some really good soft progressive rock that I use when I’m in the mood to calm down or relax. It maintains the musical ability that makes progressive rock and metal unique, as the guitars are never simple, but rather filled with complex arpeggios at times. All in all, the songs are extremely catchy, in their own sort of way. They’re not of the type that you can get pumped up to or mosh to. Rather, they just sort of take up space in the background, and they have the ability to completely fill the room with the soft guitars and keyboard washes.

There is not one single filler song on the album. The production is also very top-notch, as every single little detail comes through clearly. This is especially important considering the use of keyboard accents. The guitars shine perfectly, which is important considering the fact that there are no distorted guitars to speak of. Thus, they can’t compensate the way a band like Opeth does at times with a wall of sound. They use a crystal-clear production.

As far as the actual songs themselves go, they are just amazing. They are simple in their structure, and generally short and sweet. They are most similar to some of Porcupine Tree’s songs, but without the atmospherics that that band tends to use. As I listened to the albums, I found myself singing right along with the choruses, which is a testament to how instantly these songs get into your head and stay there.

What’s more, after the album was over, I still found myself singing some of those choruses, most notably a vocal line from “The Burden Is Mine…Alone”. That song is clearly the best song in an amazing set. Another highlight is the closing song in the set, “High Tide Waves”. This is the only song in the set to have any sort of electric guitars at all. These guitars are distorted, but clean for the most part. There is also an electric guitar solo in the song, although it’s very quiet, kind of like a guitar solo you’d hear on a NAC/Smooth Jazz song, or on an Opeth song from the “Damnation” album.

My one complaint is in the song “9-29-045”. This song is ridiculously long. So long, in fact, that it starts to lose the catchiness that makes the rest of the album so great. This is just a minor complaint, though, as the song is, despite being the worst on the album, still an amazing one.

All in all, the album is just great. It is one of those progressive rock albums that, if you like this genre, or even if you like some alternative rock or AOR, you should definitely have this in your collection. It’s flat-out brilliant the way it’s put together. I’ve listened to this album without fail whenever I go to do any sort of homework. It’s perfect background music, but at the same time, if you want to listen to it just to listen to some good music, this album also fits the bill.

Relaxing - 90%

Necrobobsledder, February 19th, 2006

Now I'm not too familiar with Green Carnation's work, having never heard any of the epic, metallic material they're known for, but I stumbled upon this album on Huynth the An's blog. I dowloaded it with skepticism because acoustic music usually isn't my bag, but to my surprise I enjoyed this. Lord knows I need tunes like these to mellow out to after headbanging all day.

The music to be found here is much like what you might expect to hear on an acoustic album(or just an album, perhaps) from any number of commercial rock groups(Radiohead, Alice in Chains, etc.), yet with a special twist. The first thing I noticed is that the vocalist, despite singing acoustic songs, still has a decidedly metal sound to his voice. There's almost a power metal vibe to his vocals, at least when he sings in the lower registers. Secondly, there's extensive use of male choir vocals, piano, and slightly psychedelic keyboard parts which put this a pedestal above most run-of-the-mill acoustic albums. For example, on "Maybe?" there is a very eerie bridge and outro that sound like a symphony of ghosts. Also, the intro on Alone has violin work that is arguably more agile than the likes used by some more commercial albums that choose to use string arrangements.

Perhaps the highlight of this feast of the ears is track 5, 9-29-045. I have no clue what this arrangement of numbers means.It's certainly not a social security number. Haha. Well, this song is the epic track of the album and is divided into three sections: My Greater Cause, Part I; Homecoming, Part II; and House of Cards, Part III. Part 1 has great,. midpaced acoustic guitar strumming with surprising bursts of folky, melodeath-sounding guitar and triumphant violins once again. Part 2 chimes in again on a slightly more depressing note and features some really proggy, almost technoish sections with some unintelligible babbling in the background. There are no vocals here, so I imagine it's supposed to serve as a transition between movements. Part 3 surfaces almost out of nowhere and the vocals return, thankfully. Here you can detect more of a sense of urgency in their delivery and the chorus is very emotional and resonant. This track, like most epic tracks that are worth a rat's ass, encompasses the many facets and the aura of Green Carnation. Quite an experience.

Child's Play is a mere instrumental and is euphonious, but honestly I didn't listen to this album to hear instrumentals, so it's merely ok and again seems more to focus as a transition piece than a serious, thoughtful piece of music.

Lastly, High Tide Waves closes the album in glorious fashion with a very lazy tempo and choir vocals reminiscent of Porcupine Tree. What's so great about the vocals on this album is that they are multi-faced. One minute the singer sounds like a really down-and-dirty rock n'roll singer, the next he sounds really gothic or power metal, and then on this song, for example, there's the obvious PT reference. Also, on this track you can hear some of the smoky, backwoods sounds of Opeth and even some Mexican-sounding guitar.

So, when all is said and done, this is definitely not a metal album and I would not recommend this to purist metalheads. However, for music lovers in general and especially for those who can't get enough of stripped-down, heart-poured-out-for-the-whole-world-to-see acoustic music, I can't recommend this enough.