About Green Carnation
Norwegian progressive metal band Green Carnation have -- since their 1990 founding by guitarist Terje Vik Schei (aka Tchort) as a death metal quartet -- been among metal's most musically ambitious and aesthetically evolutionary bands. Over three decades and a constantly shifting sound, the band have developed an instantly recognizable trademark: A skill for developing rich, intricate, even serpentine melodies that offer force, dynamic, lush production, and elegant textures. That constantly evolving yet always consistent sound has been the beating heart of all their releases through various explorations of death and Gothic metal, doom, hard rock, prog, and more (sometimes in in the same song). 2000's Journey to the End of the Night, displayed Green Carnation's powerful harmonic sensibility, especially in the addition of four rotating female guest vocalists. Near the end of 2001, they smashed all critical preconceptions with the release of Light of Day, Day of Darkness. The album was a single track, just over an hour in length, that spiraled in all directions to create a labyrinth of swirling sonics, deep emotion, and aggression. In 2007, Green Carnation split again. A different lineup returned for 2018's live outing Last Day of Darkness before re-entering the studio.
Founded as a death metal quartet by guitarist Tchort with lead guitarist Christian "X" Botteri, bassist C.M. Botteri, and drummer Anders Kobro, they developed an intense approach, as displayed on their 1996 demo Hallucinations of Despair, before splitting. Tchort joined Emperor as a bassist, while his bandmates formed back metal outfit In the Woods.
Green Carnation re-formed in 1998 with new drummer Alf T. Leangel, though Tchort was by then also playing guitar and bass in Carpathian Forest and guitar in Blood Red Throne. After playing gigs to rediscover their chemistry, they signed to Prophecy Productions and released their official debut long-player, Journey to the End of the Night -- titled after the nightmarish first novel by writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine -- in 2000, a richly Gothic and folk-inspired doom metal album. Critics greeted the set with favorable reviews, often remarking on the band's use of violin and classically trained female vocalists. It proved successful enough to warrant Green Carnation headline status.
Little could have prepared newfound fans for the 2001 release of Light of Day, Day of Darkness. For starters it featured a single track lasting an hour and a wholly different lineup. New vocalist Kjetil Nordhus made his debut, while drummer Kobro returned, bringing In the Woods bandmates Bjørn Harstad and Stein Roger Sordal on lead guitar and bass, respectively; they also brought their vocalist Synne Soprana Larsen along as a guest. The set was produced by Endre Kirkesola, who also dubbed and sang on choir vocals, played keyboards, sitar, organ, and arranged strings. The sprawling Light of Day, Day of Darkness, was the first example of Green Carnation's ability to create labyrinthine musical mazes in their compositions. It has since earned a reputation as a 21st century Gothic/prog metal classic. After a lengthy tour, Green Carnation re-entered the studio with keyboardist Bernt Moen (later of Shining) making the band a quintet. Produced by Tchort, Blessing in Disguise, issued by Season of Mist, was a harder, more riff-centric and overtly "metal" record than either of its predecessors. While some critics complained that the band seemed incapable of finding a singular musical identity, others understood exactly what Green Carnation were doing in not limiting themselves. There were prog and Gothic touches throughout the recording, but the energy and heaviness of the guitar and bass riffs were the album's primary flavor.
The following year, Prophecy issued the box set The Trilogy, containing the band's first three albums while they went out and issued their first live video, Alive and Well...In Krakow. There were more lineup changes as Michael S. Krumins replaced Harstad on guitar and Kenneth Silden took over the keyboard chair from Moen. The Silent Offspring appeared from Season of Mist in early 2005. It shocked longtime listeners as it flirted as much with hard rock riffs (think Black Sabbath and Deep Purple) as it did with crunchy metal and elegant prog balladry. Though reviews were mixed, audience enthusiasm ensued on the tour and aided its sales considerably. Interestingly, other bands taking criticism from music journos for the same thing included Opeth and Katatonia. Later that year, the band's lineup shifted again, with drummer Tommy Jacksonville replacing Kobro. These personnel issued the EP The Burden Is Mine... Alone.
2006 proved a fateful year for Green Carnation. They shifted musical directions radically for the appropriately titled Acoustic Verses. While not totally unplugged -- there were keyboards, Theremin, and electric and e-bow bass -- the music here reflected the influence of Wish You Were Here and Animals-era Pink Floyd with lush strings, flowing narrative lyrics, and altogether more elegant textures. Critical reception was over the top as punters felt that Green Carnation had made the transition to soft prog at long last, and as a result won a multitude of new fans. They released it as the live 2007 DVD A Night Under the Dam, offering performances of the entire Acoustic Verses album, as well as a two non-album cuts. In addition to the band (who featured four acoustic guitarists in the lineup, they were aided by a string quintet and the vocals of Anne Marie Almedal (ex-Velvet Belly). It would be Green Carnation's final outing for a decade. In the aftermath, Tchort announced a forthcoming studio outing entitled The Rise and Fall of Mankind, described as the closing chapter in the conceptual trilogy that began with Journey to the End of the Night and continued with Light of Day, Day of Darkness. That said, the pressures from global touring resulted in massive financial losses and stress. In August of 2007, Tchort announced the split of Green Carnation, and that he would write and record under that name. The Fall of Mankind never materialized. Instead, Tchort pursued work with Blood Red Throne and Carpathian Forest.
Nothing happened for seven long years. Tchort left Carpathian Forest in 2014 and early that year, Green Carnation announced a reunion performance of A Night Under the Dam in July, and that they were available for shows and touring. That same year, Tchort formed the black metal outfit the 3rd Attempt, who released their debut album in 2015, then did more roadwork with Green Carnation. In September of 2016, the band made its debut at ProgPower USA (PPUSA) in Atlanta, playing the main stage. They performed Light of Day, Day of Darkness in its entirety. The show was celebrated, and bootlegged and showcased on You Tube as one of the most significant concerts in the history of the festival. Released as a live DVD by Prophecy in 2018 as Last Day of Darkness, it ran up the metal charts, peaking at 16. The lineup included Tchort and Krumins on guitars, Sordal on bass, Nordhus on vocals, and new drummer Jonathan Alejandro Perez. Former producer Endre Kirkesola guested on keyboards while Harstad guested on guitars. The DVD also included a documentary on the band's history. In the aftermath of the release, Harstad rejoined Green Carnation as lead guitarist, returning the band to a sextet.
In May 2020, Green Carnation returned with their first studio outing in 14 years. Titled Leaves of Yesteryear, the five-track, 45-minute outing was co-produced by the band and Endre Kirkesola, who also recorded and mixed. In addition to three news songs, the set included a 15-plus minute version of "My Dark Reflections of Life and Death." Originally appearing on their 2000 debut Journey to the End of the Night, this version was completely revamped and re-arranged as an acknowledgment of the band's history. The other cover was a startling read of Black Sabbath's experimental track "Solitude." ~ Thom Jurek