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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.