Whenever a band returns these days from a long hiatus, people seem to refer the absence and the resurrection of Tool. Always. And if you want to think about it like that, Green Carnation were away for a while too. A year longer than Tool to be absolutely precise. Of course, their new music was not anticipated with such apprehension and the wait did not inspire people to throw around zillions of odd jokes and memes, but fourteen years is quite a long a wait and this goes without saying – there really should be something worth returning for, after such a long interval.
Like Tool, Green Carnation are also known for their Progressive Metal. Coming from the Death Metal roots of theirs to be a band that releases an album with a song clocking in at a full bloody hour, it sure is some ride, but Green Carnation have done it all. Besides a massive Prog Metal mammoth, their discography also includes a full on acoustic record and occasional Gothic tinges. So, on the verge of a new Green Carnation release, one sure does not have a clue whatsoever of what to expect.
When “Leaves of Yesteryear” starts up with the solemn Gothic gem that is the title track, every doubt is cast aside. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the music speaking. Forget about the speculation. After the opening minutes that are unmistakably Paradise Lost, Green Carnation lead us through a wide array of musical pathways. Most of them belonging to categories I personally enjoy the most. There’s Black Sabbath (“Sentinels”), and there’s even some Iced Earth (“My Dark Reflections of Life and Death”) too. How they made all these aforementioned elements merge into one, I do not know. All I care for is that it all makes sense.
Some could go complaining about the lack of original material. At least, by looking at the leaflet alone. There are five tracks on the album and last of them is a cover song. No more, no less than the quite legendary tune “Solitude” from Black Sabbath. Still, I would not see this as a problem either. The original tunes from Green Carnation are clocking in at almost forty minutes, but they don’t really feel that long. “Solitude,” then again, is an excellent cover choice and it has been given the full Green Carnation treatment. While listening to the record, it really feels like Tony Iommi & Co. penned the tune specifically for this particular album when it closes up the whole body of work in such a seamless manner. Some serious mastery in arrangements, right there. The song is definitely made a part of the whole story.
So, as you probably figured out by now, “Leaves of Yesteryear” is an enjoyable ride. Definitely a perfect length (forty four minutes) for the listener to fully absorb and appreciate the carefully crafted moods and movements of the album. This is not your brutal Metal fix for sure, but I guess no one did expect that from Green Carnation in 2020 any more. This is music for the fans of melancholy instead. Paradise Lost, Anathema… Maybe even a bit of Pain of Salvation. This does not quite reach the majesty of “Draconian Times,” or the post-prog genius of “Weather Systems,” but it is definitely worth of checking out nevertheless, as it is solid, and yes justifiable reason for a band to return.
Rating – 4/5