Monday, July 24, 2006

Green Carnation - Light of Day, Day of Darkness

My dalliances with the long song format began back in the day with Metallica’s Master of Puppets. Compositions scaling the extremities of the eight-minute mark proved quite a peculiarity to a young teenager nourished up to then on the likes of Aerosmith and Nirvana. The extended tentacles of ‘Orion’ ringed themselves around my ear drums; my auditory canal was corked by the riffarama of ‘Disposable Heroes’. The elongated double-stops of the title track smashed my head into the concrete at absolute disdain at a four-minute piece of naivety.

Then came Opeth, powering up the jigsaw of musical taste, epic musical creations clenched in teeth. Orchid and Morningrise both brought songs whose heads bobbed just above the rim of the ten-minute milestone. Then, of course, on the latter album came the brilliant opus of ‘Black Rose Immortal’, standing slouchless at twenty minutes and fourteen seconds.

Dream Theater tumbled out soon afterwards. The lengthy soundscapes of ‘A Change of Seasons’ and, more recently, ‘Octavarium’ bustling over the twenty minute benchmark, and succeeding to enthral and captivate with their excellence.

In 2001, out of the womb walked a composition to make those aforementioned tracks blush in submissive embarrassment, it went by the name of Light of Day, Day of Darkness.

Conceived, gestated and born of Norwegian metal band Green Carnation, this single-song album runs at a mammoth sixty minutes and six seconds, making it loom with grand enormity over it’s shorter cousins.

Despite that preamble into the ways of elongated metal, fanfare and superlatives, we are all perfectly aware that the length of things really matters not; the temporal format in fact coruscates with irrelevance. It’s what infests the waters of content that truly snatches at our concerns here.

Green Carnation is ostensibly a band leaning on the banisters of the progressive, yet each album has showcased something overtly different from the last. Light of Day, Day of Darkness is their second album, and probably the only one that can be labelled with the pigment of prog metal, first album Journey to the Centre of the Night being more of a doom-laden affair. While subsequent album Blessing in Disguise is more straight-forward metal, brandishing shorter arrangements and the habits of hard rock. Then there’s the further increment of traditional rock formats in 2005’s The Quiet Offspring, and the acoustic-based merits of The Acoustic Verses, released earlier this year.

But all that is surplus froth when contrasted with the magnificence of Light of Day, Day of Darkness. Oops, I’ve blundered into unveiling the reviewer’s best kept secret, the concluding verdict, the apotheosis of opinion. Well, let those strains of praise leap forth from my words, encircle the skyways, and perhaps even show-off a few dives south like a kingfisher.

The album/the song has been masterminded by band founder and leader Tchort, former four-string rogue for Emperor. Put simply, he has crafted an amazing piece of music, one that flows through different moods with ease, and is as epic in sound as it is in length. The music builds and cascades and folds and traverses through different sections, manoeuvring effortlessly from a riff-heavy verse to an airy symphonic interval. The album sleeve is adorned with a range of photographs - taken by Tchort himself - of Norwegian lakeside forest expanses, an assortment of beauty equalled by the music contained within, an appropriate graphic accompaniment.

Passages are returned to, cues seeded and revisited at a later moment; this really is a uniform composition. Too many long songs, or any-length songs, sound like nothing beyond a collection of disparate riffs - and sometimes this is fine. But Light of Day, Day of Darkness is one self-contained masterwork.

Complete with huge chugging, chunky guitar riffs, the album sounds massive. Definitely the ambrosia of studio miracles overhang this album, guitars layered like sediment from pre-Cambrian times, and a sublime mixing where every element seems to be at the forefront. Compared with the partial rendition on the DVD Live and Well…in Krakow, you can hear the mastery at work, the live version cursed as it is with an overloud lead guitar and diminutive rhythm section. Light of Day, Day of Darkness is a rhythm-based album, relatively simple riffs act as bricks in it’s bestial wall of sound.

One slight discrepancy is the ambient mid-section featuring the cackles of an aching female voice. While it may be suitable for the piece as a whole, it didn’t alight my aural subjectivity.

As already premeditated, the album is a breathtaking opus, from the introductory serene melodies, to the harmonious vocals, and from the strained emotions of the protracted guitar solo, to the final slabs of wonderful verse, it deserves to stand proud in showers of acclaim. And hark! Lead it to that apex, and then go forth with odes in the heart for Tchort and company, resonating to every passer-by the good melodious news of Light of Day, Day of Darkness.


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