on 16 September 2003
After 2001's astounding masterpiece, "Light of Day, Day of Darkness", many fans of Green Carnation, myself included, thought it would be impossible to better. In fact, I had no idea how it would be possible to follow such an immense album. Needless to say, I was very interested in how they would go about doing it.
Green Carnation is the band of Tchort, a rather famous contributor to the Black Metal scene, his career meaning he has been involved with Carpathian Forest and Emperor amongst others. Other members of the band have previously worked with In the Woods however, and that is the style in which Green Carnation's roots lie. But unlike their previous effort (that was only one 60 minute track), the band have moved away from long, flowing epics, and entered the territory of beautifully crafted songs.
So, how exactly does this mean they've changed? Well, the track length is down a bit. Only one breaks the eight-minute barrier, whilst the shortest is under five. This is not the sort of thing usually classed as metal, either. Sure, there's a riff here or there which sounds pretty doomy, and it can get rather heavy in places, but the on the whole, this is melodic rock music. Also, it uses exclusively clean vocals. And when you hear how much Kjetil Nordhus's singing voice has improved since their last release, this is a very good thing indeed. His voice is now brimming with power, but it is used in such a way that it can become delicate, whilst all the time packed with emotion.
The album opens with "Crushed To Dust", probably the heaviest track on offer, with a driving riff and an incredibly strong chorus. "Lullaby In Winter", the following song is a slower burning, heartfelt piece, which brings together influences such as Pink Floyd, Anathema, and although too recent to be an influence, parts of this are reminiscent of Opeth's "Damnation". The only word that can do this song justice is 'beautiful'. From start to finish, it contains a haunting quality, whilst Nordhus's gorgeous vocals float along on top of it. Another use of the strong chorus occurs in "Into Deep", whilst the rest of the song has a darker atmosphere than the preceding tracks. In fact, virtually every song on offer has an excellent chorus. Instead of the earlier work, written in it's entirety by Tchort. the other band members have all contributed to the songwriting process, and as a result, "A Blessing in Disguise" sounds a lot more mature and refined than their previous material. Take, for instance, the stunning piano intro to "The Boy in the Attic", or the delicate acoustic strumming in closer "Rain".
As has been mentioned in many reviews before this one, the word genius is bandied about far too readily in the music scene. "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" already proved Tchort's worth at holding this title, but if it didn't, then "A Blessing in Disguise" certainly would. I would not go as far to say that it is a better album, but it is easily its equal, and Green Carnation have just reinforced their place as one of the best and most innovative bands playing this style of music. Absolutely stunning.