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The Longest Songs in Metal, Part 5 - 78%

Insin, March 19th, 2016

Writing an hour-long song is difficult.

First, the whole band has to be on board with a project of this level. Then they have to write enough material. Then they have to link it all together. They have to keep it tight for recording, even if it is segmented into movements. And there is the possibility playing it live. Not to mention that a lot of bands that write hour-long songs play progressive music, which tends to be more technical and complex than many other styles.

Writing a good hour-long song is even harder. Keeping one continuous piece of music of such a length interesting, captivating, and fresh can be quite a challenge. There should be some sort of buildup or payoff at the end, making its structure especially important. It’s very easy for disjointedness, or too little variation and too much repetition to become an issue. And of course the actual sound of the music is always a factor.

Taking all of this into account, Green Carnation doesn’t at all do a bad job with their sophomore album, Light of Day, Day of Darkness, which comes in at almost exactly sixty minutes. For a lot of people, with extended song length comes higher expectations, and although LODDOD, in the end, is a success, it is still flawed and misses some opportunities.

Green Carnation’s core sound (not an entirely unexpected observation I make here) is the most prevalent and primary style played throughout the song, a doomy prog metal fueled by fairly standard, often chugged riffs. Nevertheless, those heavier moments are satisfying and energizing although the riffs aren’t particularly memorable. The keyboard tone is retro, sticking to the background, and vocals are mostly clean. Nordhus is a competent singer, though nothing special, but the main drawback in this category is the very unnecessary children’s choir at the beginning.

No matter what happens in the song, LODDOD always reverts to its main doom metal style and in fact rarely deviates from this general sound, save the acoustic passages placed here and there. This constancy lends it some more atmosphere and keeps it from obnoxiously screaming “PROG” at you (for those of you who don’t like showoff-y bands), but overall I would say that this is a bad thing. After a while, a monotonous, trudging feeling seeps in and things can get a bit dull, an issue that often plagues songs of this nature. While the floaty beginning (not very different from Moonsorrow’s Jddstd Syntynnyt) raises the bar for the rest of the album, the next 57 or so minutes do not really live up to the expectations that Green Carnation attempts to create.

Thirty-three minutes in, we arrive at the strangest, longest, and most distinct variation from the rest of the song’s doomy riffing. Everything dies down and we are treated to a woman yodeling (?), backed by a melancholic saxophone. It’s a despairing and empty section, and the woman sounds as though she is about to explode or at least shatter glass at one point. Not pleasant to listen to on its own, this part still seems as though it has an important function – it might signal the rest of the song to start building up momentum towards a grand finale once the other instruments come back in. And there is in fact a glorious potential ending here, if the time between the woman singing and ending was more fluid and perhaps longer. The guitarist unleashes an epic solo as the song rebuilds… and the band promptly continues to play for seventeen more minutes after he is done.

At this point transitions become clunkier and the actual grand finale is falls short. The payoff is not quite there, but at least the ending doesn’t painfully trail off in an epitome of anticlimactic-ness.

Green Carnation has some good ideas but LODDOD is lacking the factors that would have pushed it from a merely competent hour-long song to an excellent one. With too much emphasis on just one sound and some structural issues, it does not find itself in the upper tier of prog/doom/we-love-to-write-long-songs metal. In fact, it almost certainly would have been improved had it been cut down.

A worthwhile journey to follow - 80%

gasmask_colostomy, November 18th, 2014

Green Carnation are a smashing band composed of an interesting variety of musicians and this song (read: album) reflects that diversity and quality pretty well. What it doesn't do though - and which Green Carnation have learned on subsequent albums - is make it easy for the listener. An hour long album can be difficult to sit through at the best of times, but an hour long song does make your bottom a bit itchy after a while.

That said, the musicianship is of the highest quality and ideas mostly transfer well between sections, using a variety of heavy and acoustic passages, as one would expect from this kind of progressive metal. Perhaps the best quality that you could hope for in a long piece like this is the building quality that it has, which is evident in the first five minutes, though keeps returning. It's like the band have marked out lots of little summits to reach on the way to the conclusion, and the song builds towards each of them, meaning that the listener isn't forced to wait 50 minutes for one huge payoff.

As one might expect from Green Carnation's other work, the cleaner passages are slow and often melancholic (though not unpleasantly so), reminding one of the way that Opeth often create a nostalgic, autumnal mood in their quieter moments. The heavy riffs here are primarily mid-paced and chug or march without troubling the neck muscles too much. The best instances of these passages occur when a sudden imperial quality comes over the vocals and, with the rather prominent and grandiose organ at full blast, the band becomes a force to be reckoned with. There's a wonderful jumping rhythm that gets picked up and tossed about at around 22 minutes that is probably the album's most joyful moment. Other than this, there are moments of double bass accompanying semi-extreme death/doom churners which change things up nicely, though these were largely dropping out of Green Carnation's sound at this juncture.

Thus, the sound is somewhat transitional for the band, making a stepping stone between the dark and heavy debut and the more melodic prog rock direction they would later pursue. The lyrics aren't a huge surprise (slightly vague conceptual stuff) and the vocals are strong and melodic, but the biggest shock on 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' is the lack of self-indulgence of display. If one considers progressive metal, one might expect long instrumental sections with a lot of solos: not so, because the longest solo section comes in after about 40 minutes and hangs around for about 3 minutes. Instead, everything is tight and necessary, apart from a couple of misplaced sections like the woman singing strange words with a minimal backing. We don't need that.

In summary, Green Carnation managed to write a very long song which works as a very long song and is a very worthwhile listen for those with patience. Like everything the band put their name to, it ends up a tiny bit short on strong ideas to make every part essential, but - probably due to the monolithic nature of the album - there is a greater unity to 'Light of Day' than the band's other full-lengths.

In this dream I convieved a perfect plan - 89%

extremesymphony, February 8th, 2011

Progressive music has it's own characteristics. Being the most difficult music to both, play as well as compose, listening can be a bit risky sometimes. For when composed excellently, prog, music is wonderful, but when used in excess and incorrectly the results are just disgusting. For example imagine a highly progressive song which goes on for 20 long minutes. It will have long drawn out instrumental sections, no coherent pace, over the top vocals. Actually yeah, it is certainly very difficult to write even a 10 minute song with progressive elements but still keeping it interesting throughout it's length. Certainly more difficult for a 20 minute song. But what if the song is 60 minutes long? yes you read correctly 60 minutes. Imagine a progressive metal song which runs for an hour, even among the fans of progressive music itself it will be a bit hard to do so. So here we have Norwegian Green Carnation and their second album, a one song effort, Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness which a 60 minute epic.

The music of Green Carnation can be described as doomy prog metal. There is a sorrowful, dark , doomy atmosphere about this album which matches it's themes perfectly. The main highlight of this song is the high caliber composition value. Yes the song is long, yes it has long intros, yes it has more than 20 minutes of instrumental sections, but the intros and instrumentals do not stray away from the main theme of the song. Though the song is complex and progressive, it maintains a strict continuous pattern throughout.

The vocals are doom inspired and much rough than compared to traditional prog music. They are much in the mid range, a stark contrast to the high wailing vocals of Labrie or Geddy Lee, but they fit the song well. The guitar work is heavy and much in common with traditional doom metal. The riffs are slow, midpaced, dark, heavy, simple yet they are tremendously effective. The lead work brings out a sad sorrowful feel out of the song. Keyboards, and other classical instruments like Saxophone, Sitar, Strings are used quite abundantly in the album. They sound great with the guitar and are used to enhance the overall atmosphere of the song.

The song opens softly with a Dream Theater style intro. Shortly doomy, heavy and midpaced riffs enter with keyboards tossed in. The song doesn't quite pick up pace that fast, but it's heaviness remains quite constant. Though the instrumental sections are not flashy or colorful, they are enjoyable. Let's face it folks, showy soloing would never have served the song. Couple of death growls are introduced at the 8th minute, There are enough pace changes in the instrumental sections to keep you glued. The song really picks up around the 16 minute. Such pace changes move the song to the half way mark with ease. Never ever do you feel anything foolish attempted to just drag out the song to 60 minutes. Each part just flows into one another.

At around the 32nd minute, for the first time we find something done to stretch the length of the song, something which just sounds out of place. For the next five minutes we are treated to a woman wailing at the top of her voice. The part serves really no purpose other than just to pad put the length of the song. It is for this particular reason that nine points are deducted from the song. Thankfully it is short and ends quickly ( comparing to the song of course, for in five minutes I can be treated to a Kreator Ripping Corpse ). Around the 39th minute the song picks up again with acousic guitars which sound cool. Around the 40th minute, we have a beautiful piano solo which blends into an excellent guitar solo at around the 42nd minute. I might not even hesitate a bit to add that the solo is the highlight of the second half. The last 10 minutes aren't very vocal oriented and contain mostly instrumental sections.

The song is certainly a huge achievement in the realm of progressive music. At 60:05 this according to the best of my knowledge is the longest song recorded. The song really doesn't let loose and practically flows from one section to another, and nothing sounds out of place ( except the woman wailing of course ). This is a must listen for all the fans of progressive music, but also for others who do not listen to prog music, this album can be a welcome change. So please think about it and give it a try

Solid Effort, But a Gimmick - 82%

noinnocentvictim, January 25th, 2009

Despite the clear effort here to make sure the song is over an hour, this song seems like much less of a novelty than one would expect. The band managed to approach this song with the perfect mentality--Begin with something of an overture, taking a page from the book of Dream Theater--Then pacing the remainder of the song out perfectly over the course of an hour.

Unfortunately, after about the 30-minute mark, the band begins to get a bit too experimental. Of course, plenty of experimentation is not just expected but required in a project such as this one, but, unfortunately, they happen to take it a bit too far, giving the song a feeling of being a bit too strewn-out.

I think the attempts of this band to branch out beyond just metal is a bit ridiculous, since I've always considered metal to be extremely branched out in the first place--jazz, classical, etc, but I think they decided to go with a more literal interpretation of that than I had initially expected.

However, the instrumentation is quite amazing for the first half hour, and the song is extraordinarily cohesive. Once the song leaves its comfort zone, it starts to sound like many different songs. This is not to say that these songs are bad on their own--quite the contrary, in fact--they're amazing. The problem here is simply that the band seems to be so determined to get to the one-hour mark that where acoustic breaks should be end up becoming entirely separate songs. Yes, this is occasionally done well, but the few disconnected breaks really ruin the feeling of an epic composition.

Bottom Line: Overall, yes, great album, but tries too hard to reach the one-hour mark. A forty-five minute song would have been much better.

Extraordinary Grace - 96%

OlympicSharpshooter, February 8th, 2006

In metal, there is a great potential for the kind of art that has in many ways left this world. As the purest child of classical composition in the world of popular music, metal has access to the both the fury and gut-level verve of rock as well as the grandeur and scope of the symphony, and because of this it is capable of achieving incredible things. While I am not so elitist as to dismiss the equally powerful magic of the perfect rock single or the almighty glory of The Riff, there is an art above and beyond, beneath and beside.

Green Carnation’s “Light of Day, Day of Darkness” is an example of metal that reaches for art, and while it is not the first or the last to do so, it is amongst the most successful in achieving this goal. The ambition here can’t be missed, the band seemingly hell bent on leaving some sort of mark on metal, as if to raise a glass to the competition and say ‘Well, here’s the vanguard, just try and out-prog THIS’. Constant subtlety-free one-upmanship has long been a hallmark of progressive rock as band after band write longer, more technical, more esoteric works in an effort to distance themselves from the pack. In the end though, they only succumb to their own clichés and wind up forgotten when the next wave rolls on over their intricate (but ultimately foundation-less) sandcastles.

What makes “Light of Day, Day of Darkness” an accomplishment that will stand the test of time is that, regardless of the nature of the band’s reason for writing an hour-long song is, no hint of such base silliness bleeds into the music. The material is dense and conceptual to the point of absurdity, but it is all executed with such purity of vision and tastefulness that instead of laughing at the art school dropout flights of fancy, one is instead drawn deeper into the heart of the mystery, sitting with chin resting on palm surrounded by glass walls and signs reading Caution: Deep Thoughts in Progress.

Every instrument on this record contributes to the whole and nothing for an instant feels out of place. With most prog acts, you’re going to get a lot of widdly show-ish instrumentation that doesn’t have a great deal to do with the overall direction of the piece. The best of the more tech-oriented prog acts have the ability to make these digressions a journey in themselves, while the lesser lights merely seek to prove their ability to shred in obtuse time signatures. LOD, DOD is hardly simple, but its complexity comes in its musical density. There are layers and layers of sound, at times dozens of tracks going at once but Green Carnation are blessed with uncommonly good composition and absolutely pristine production. The riffs in the beginning of the song are rather stock doom riffs, much more about the ominous sturm and drang and the ominous sensations than about trying to replace “Smoke on the Water”, the DNA unchanged since Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”, Black Sabbath. However, guitarist and composer Tchort plays them with an uncommon energy, heavy but not trudging, I believe intentionally writing simple earthy riffs to anchor music that is bordered and shaded by highly involved keys and string melodies. At other places in the song the riffs are grand and eloquent, sometimes atmospheric, never less than superb.

When writing a song that is over twenty minutes long, most writers tend to break up the track “2112”-style with sharp delineations between sections in order to prevent the listener from becoming bored and, from a technical standpoint, to provide an excuse to do some rather jarring transitions. Green Carnation has been more like a Pink Floyd in that they simply let the song be very long without breaking it up at all, but this song isn’t nearly as jammy and simplistic as Floyd’s work. They arrive at somewhat of a happy medium between the brands of progressive rock, as the song has very different feelings and sounds within it but is built in such a way that it feels like one piece. With few exceptions, I would be hard-pressed to break this up into sections because it just feels like a whole. The way they accomplish this is through an extremely canny compositional style.

Suppose you want to get from near silence to an epic outro, how do you do it without feeling forced or choppy? Basically, you must build up to that point. Around the 35 minute mark of the song, the listener is left with only a woman’s voice wailing in the darkness accompanied by some lovely, mournful saxophone from guest musician Arvid Thorsen. There are bubbling noises in the background, a few touches of synth. This sounds like creation, the earth mother crying out as the world comes into form. Slowly we are reintroduced to electric guitar, building up into a funereal doom riff with chanting vocals overtop, building to a breaking point of volume. But they don’t have the momentum to really get to the climax yet, so down we go again through a few measures of graceful acoustics and synths and builds up to a far-greater zenith in lead guitarist Bjørn’s massive solo. I tell you, this thing is the work of immortals, evangelical fire melting the frets as he channels divine inspiration. As with many of the most powerful riffs on the album, the solo is marked by a career spent honing the techniques of black metal, but is played in the bombastic style of a John Petrucci or a Kirk Hammett. Thus, you often hear tremolo-picked riffs and other staples of the genre in a new way and with a more obvious passion than ever before.

As amazing as the solo itself is, it wouldn’t have had the impact without that languorous three-minute build-up from the quiet section, which itself was five to seven minutes. The amazing ride utilized the tension that had accumulated after such a long time away from the heavier side of the palette, and the lack of other solo spots in the song made it a truly explosive climax, later matched only by the closing fanfares. Perhaps an even stronger indication of how good the composition is that the song wastes no time following it up, again hauling the audience along through more glorious riffage and a vocal section that reminds me of something from the Pain of Salvation catalogue.

The vocals are handled by Kjetil Nordhus who turns in perhaps the most uneven performance, although that says little considering how good everything in general is. The song’s main recurring riff is a simple and repetitive one carried by the driving rhythm section, and the band was obviously looking for a mechanical resonance to his vocals which, while not a bad decision overall is one that leads to vocal melodies that are considerably less interesting than I was caterwauling when I was reading the lyrics along with the song before I’d become more than passingly familiar with it. At other places in the song he demonstrates a passionate, confident voice and he has the ability to imbue admirable character into it, and so during these repetitive sections his phrasing seems unnatural and cold. In spite of this, Nordhus does an admirable job of bringing life to what otherwise might have sounded like aimless navel-gazing masquerading as poetic contemplation. Which, considering how obscure the lyrics are, might still be true but if it is so additional kudos must go to Nordhus for so skilfully hiding this from me.

I have to say, I remain surprised that Green Carnation managed to execute this project so perfectly. Their ability of course is unquestioned, Tchort in particular being quite the black metal man about town including stints with Emperor and Satyricon, but even his name-appeal could only have reached a limited audience. How then did Green Carnation manage to command such lush production and such lavish sound? Being on a major (for metal) label helps of course, but this thing… sound-wise, it is perfect. Puts most major (for general music) label music to shame in fact.

However, nit-picking at every individual facet of “Light of Day, Day of Darkness” will bring me no closer to why it is great. It is in the whole that greatness and art emerges, how all of the individual components come together to create a progressive watershed, the benchmark within the subset of the almost quixotically epic, achieving where efforts like Tales From Topographic Oceans and “Crimson” didn’t quite. A song of this length has to earn the time you put into it, and it has to be more than a mere collection of riffs like, for example, “Crimson” is. After all, if you can accomplish the same thing with eight short songs that you can with one long one then the only reason to make a long song is to prove how ‘progressive’ you are in the most puerile sense of that word. This is an hour-long song that has more cohesion than songs a sixth its length, a song that is full and whole enough to withstand concentrated listening and yet is diaphanous enough to be a perfect ambient music. Why it is and how it is what it is are almost irrelevant compared to what it is:

Great art.

Great First Listen, Not So Great Second - 55%

The_Cry_Of_Mankind, November 9th, 2005

Green Carnation are no doubt a great live band, and they can make great music...but an hour long song? Well there is some good points and bad.

The album starts off well with an interesting interlude into the music as it keeps you listening. The vocals come in over some good acoustic guitar and keyboard and then comes the loud roar that the album hinted at for about 10 minutes. The vocals are pretty decent as the lead singer progresses from a somewhat low vocal to a more strong doom approach. After a good few minutes of a build up to what could be the chorus to the song (im not to sure) a nice riff comes in reminding me of a riff from a stoner rock/doom band, with really nice vocals and lyrics.

After this I start to think 'wow this album is going to be great' After that.....what happened? well from then on most of the song sounds like interludes to other songs, that are arguably not that interesting, Some nice bits of music but nothing as breath taking and impressive as the first 20 minutes. I am sure this song could appeal to much people but it just did not do much for me as a listener, after the 40 minutes I did not enjoy, I can just think of this album as Boring, and nothing to get excited over.

You should just buy/download the single edit of this album in my opinion, or just see them live as they play the good bits in 25 minutes which is pretty impressive.

Is there a five-minute edit of this? - 33%

Cheeses_Priced, December 27th, 2004

Drop in at pretty much any given point during the single track on this album and what you will hear is prog rock and/or light doomy metal, sort of similar to, perhaps, newer Amorphis. Listening to a thirty-second snippet of it you probably won’t hear a lot to convince you that this isn’t getting played on the radio all the time in some parts of Europe, only instead of wrapping things up in four minutes with three repetitions of a chorus and a mellotron solo, the accursed thing prolongs the listener’s suffering for a merciless sixty minutes before ending.

And there are sung vocals and growled vocals and female vocals and whispered vocals and strings and winds and keyboards and electronics and acoustic guitars and… hey, is that a mellotron solo? Well, if there’s no mellotron on here, there might as well be. Pretend there’s one. And if having eighty different instruments on the album isn’t enough to convince you that these guys are the final word on musical genius, the obtuse lyrics, which are about insanity or God or something, ought to settle the matter.

Well, I suppose it’s enough to convince somebody, anyway. There are not many things I’d less rather listen to than a 60-minute rock song – it seems to sort of defeat the point, unless we recognize the use of a token symbol of artistic importance as a “point” in itself. I’d skip this.

Inspiring effort but not for everyone! - 82%

WitheringToSerenity, March 23rd, 2004

Simply put, this album is an excellent piece of work but in a sense its too progressive for its own good. Not meaning that the instruments are terribly complex. Rather that it shifts in so many different musical directions that many people believe the song is simply just throwing a 100 different musical ideas into a pot and just inserting it randomly. I can see where people might consider this forced but this album actually very flows very well. Nothing earth shattering within this epic release but if disected but altogether it is a true journey of musical greatness.

Originally I was taking a chance being a fan of progressive and knowing Tchort was part of Emperor and not being fond of black metal at all. Other than two actually well placed growls at around eight minutes its all clean vocals. Many different vocalists, mostly male and female vocals which are nothing spectacular but the variety adds a certain extra dimension to the sound. The guitar contrast is a given although dominated by distortion there are also some excellent clean sections. Guitar solo's are virtually non existant. Green Carnation also would have benefited putting more superb solo's in like the one at the 43 minute mark. They had a few slower paced solo's which set great atmosphere but not very much for such a long song. Definetly shows that its not due to a lack of talent. Has tons of different instruments from Keyboards all the way to Saxophone. I remember seeing a listed total of 40 musicians altogether. :O

I wouldn't call this metal very doom-ish. It has some heavy slower tempo riffs granted but the distorted guitar varies and essentially its progressive metal with much a strong atmospheric presence(sounds). This album gets a tad lower rating also because of the middle section with the saxophone and female vocalist (and afterwards) could have been improved. I crave music that progresses but even for me it stretched too long. Beautiful piano/keyboard melodies, soaring guitars and lots of music I crave but its not an album I'd recommend to everyone. Hour long songs filled with experimental aspects are definetly not for everybody. But it does have the potential to grab anyone with its catchiness at any given time. Make no mistakes about it. Maybe not a masterpiece but an inspiring piece of excellence in its own right!!!

Fantastic!!! - 90%

Metal_Snake, March 14th, 2003

This album is fucking great. Its one HUGE song, clocking in at about one hour. Yes, one hour. And let me tell you, its one hour of pure brilliance. Well nearly, more on that later. The song starts really slow with a kind of creepy melody, then the drums come in and a child can be heard in the background, and the vocals get going. The vocals at the start are very mellow, and that creepy child has some babling in the background too.

Then we kick into a more upbeat guitarwork, and the vocals become more fast. This part is just great. This is how this song goes. It changes pace almost constantly, so you will never become bored of listening to it. Even the vocals are subject to constant change. Mellow vocals, whispering, this song has lots of different vocal styles. I could go on forever on how amazing it is to listen to this album. One second the guitar is up front, playing heavy, cool riffs. The next we are threated with some loud drums and catchy background melodies.

Its not totally flawless though. About 35 minutes into the song a woman spend quite a few minutes finding out how high pitched her voice can become. This part is really anoying. Basically we hear her sing "Haaaaaaar Haaaaarrr Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr" while theres some classical instrument (and obo or something?) playing in the background. Like I said, this part is really anoying, but luckily, the rest of the song is pure killer.

The whole song ends with a music box playing and then the song is over. This is one of my favorite albums, and you really should give it a shot. I tell you its not a song, its an experience.

When Music Becomes Art - 83%

PsyKoCracker, March 8th, 2003

Green Carnation's "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" is a one song album, composed of only the 1 hour long title track. Let me begin by saying that if you have a short attention span, dont even bother with this. I am assuming that's where the two bad scores came from.

LoDDoD it very progressive and doomy, with mostly clean vox (which are very nice btw) with some harsher vox at times. The song goes through many ups and downs in tempo.

The song begins very nicely and slowly. There is a nice keyboard tune, and the sound of an infant crying in the background. It elevates, then goes back down, and goes all over the place.

Around 35 minutes in, you are treated with 5 minutes of a women with a high voice testing how high she can go without any instrumentals. This part is really not good, and i admit fast forwarding through it at times. This part DOES have a purpose though. It builds up energy, as right after this you are treated with a 2-3 minute solo, which is not only the climax of the song, but one of the best solos I've ever heard.

After this solo the same pattern as the first 30 or so minutes continues, until Green Carnation take it out with a bang, and you hear the keyboard tune and the infant crying yet again, and then the sound of a music box fades this song out. This song is truly a masterpiece, though I admit that there are a few parts where you get kind of lost in it.

To any true progressive fans, this is a necessity to check out. I can guarruntee an hour well spent.