Few bands affect me as much as do GREEN CARNATION. Whether it be "Journey To The End Of The Night" or "The Quiet Offspring," I'm pretty a much a fan of all that they've done. I am not, however, an unconditional fan, which is to say that I'm not going to like something solely because the GREEN CARNATION name is attached to it. When I get a new release from this band, it's still got to pass the test. And this one could have failed, as "The Acoustic Verses" is something much different for GREEN CARNATION. But you know what? It passes the test with flying colors. Whatever that means.
This isn't just some acoustic album where the band strips down their sound and writes a bunch of lame campfire songs. We get fully fleshed-out compositions, as organic and lively as any of the band's past material. Sure, sometimes the band does strip down - see, for example, "The Burden Is Mine...Alone" - but even then, the songs pack a punch. It might not be a heavy punch in the sense that it's distorted and "rocking," but it's still emotional. It's still beautiful. It's still got all of the qualities that make GREEN CARNATION great. And it's nice to see a band that not only stretches their sound into areas that might make them uncomfortable, but to see one that does it so well.
As their catalogue can attest to, GREEN CARNATION is a band that likes to experiment, and this record is no different. Aside from the wonderfully powerful vocals of Kjetil Nordhus, we are treated to the vocal debut of long-time bandmember Stein Roger, who takes the lead on the aforementioned "The Burden Is Mine...Alone" and pops up here and there throughout the record. We also get another patented GREEN CARNATION epic in the form of the three-part "09-29-045," which goes from fragile to powerful to disturbing and back again. Quite simply, these songs stand up alongside anything in the GREEN CARNATION corpus.
Of course, some fans won't like this. It might be too much of a departure from the band's origins, but even to those folks, this album is a blessing in disguise (har har). In the liner notes, we learn that the band considers this record to be the limit of what still fits under the GREEN CARNATION umbrella, and next up we get a return to the old form with the release of "The Chronicles Of Doom," the sequel to the phenomenal "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness." Whether you're a fan of the band's experiments or not, "The Acoustic Verses" marks the end of an era, and let me tell you, that era ends on a high note. (Online January 30, 2006)