By early 2006, Norway’s Green Carnation had released four studio albums and an EP in five years — including their breakout masterwork, 2001’s Light of Day, Day of Darkness. Albums of such magnitude generally foretell some type of creative cliff is around the bend, but the Norwegians wisely kept updating their sound with more atmospheric and progressive rock elements on the ensuing A Blessing in Disguise (2003) and The Quiet Offspring (2005). This creative direction ensured Light of Day, Day of Darkness would forever stand alone and that Green Carnation was not a band bound to convention.
This brings us to 2006’s Acoustic Verses, an album — as the title suggests — of completely acoustic originals. Buoyed by the previous year’s The Burden is Mine…Alone EP and the eponymous song bearing its name, Acoustic Verses find Green Carnation near the peak of their creative powers during their 2000s iteration. Now 15 years removed from its release, Acoustic Verses is getting the vinyl reissue treatment from Season of Mist, including new artwork from Polish graphic artist Lukasz Jaszak, an updated tracklisting and three bonus cuts.
According to vocalist Kjetil Nordhus, Acoustic Verses was born from the band’s never-ending pursuit of something new. Even with regular pleas from fans to recreate the hallowed sounds of Light of Day, Day of Darkness, Green Carnation was more interested in the “next step.” Come 2006, that next step was stripped-down music played on acoustic instruments.
“I think [founding member/guitarist] Tchort thought we didn’t know where to go next,” says Nordhus. “We had time to discover all the areas within our creative scope except for the acoustic landscapes. Especially Light of Day, Day of Darkness, which is a ‘more is more’ album. It sounds strange, but it was a natural step for us because it was an area we hadn’t gone into before as a band. We had different band members that were more or less acquainted with the acoustic ideas. But for the band as a whole, it was a new challenge. It was fresh for us. For some strange reason, but I can understand, I think many people found a lot of atmospheres from Light of Day, Day of Darkness in Acoustic Verses, even though it’s the most different sounding album when you listen to it at first. Acoustic Verses is like a stripped-down essence of what Green Carnation is or was at that time.”
At seven songs, Acoustic Verses features songwriting contributions from nearly every member of Green Carnation. Tchort provided “Sweet Leaf” and “Alone,” while Nordhus chipped in with “Maybe?” Bassist Stein Roger Sordal penned not only “The Burden is Mine…Alone” but also the 15-minute epic “9-29-045.” “Child’s Play Part 3” (a continuation of the “Child’s Play” story from The Quiet Offspring) was written by guest cellist Bernt Andrè Moen, and album closer “High Tide Waves” was a joint effort between guitarist Michael S. Krumins (music) and drummer Tommy Jackson (lyrics).
The wealth and disparity of songwriting ideas proved to be a double-edged sword for Green Carnation. While it made Acoustic Verses an album of remarkable depth and progression, it put the band at a creative crossroads. Then, the following year, Tchort dissolved Green Carnation after a difficult North American tour. It also put his plans for the sequel to Light of Day, Day of Darkness, The Rise and Fall of Mankind (which was the intended second part of his The Chronicles of Doom trilogy) on the backburner.
“It was a challenge for us to fit the new, acoustic sound into what we were doing,” says Nordhus. “I can’t remember too many albums that have nearly all band members as songwriters and lyricists, which makes it very much a band concept. But, after Acoustic Verses, we certainly didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t a natural step for us to take at that point. There’s a lot of reasons why we decided to split up — that was one of them.”
Green Carnation reformed in 2014 and proceeded to rejoin the European and American festival circuit for special appearances, including a full airing of Light of Day, Day of Darkness at the 2016 ProgPower USA festival. In 2020, they released the highly-anticipated follow-up to Acoustic Verses, Leaves of Yesteryear, an album that drew immediate praise from fans and critics.
“We knew that people wanted us to come back,” says Nordhus. “That wasn’t something new. But the emotions of it all, during that first concert when we came back, we saw several people crying in the audience, we could see how much it meant to people and we were all a bit surprised. There’s a lot of love for the band out there. We needed to be entirely sure that after so many years that we released an extremely good album. It wouldn’t make sense to do something halfway. We took quite a lot of time, wrote a lot of material and set a high bar for our ideas. We tried to gather all the best things we did previously, but adding 15 years of life and musical experience.”
Nordhus hints at some “significantly adventurous” plans ahead for Green Carnation in addition to continuing the promotional push for Leaves of Yesteryear. However, assembling the Acoustic Verses reissue provided a moment of pause and reflection when Green Carnation was writing, recording and touring at a breakneck pace. A decade-and-a-half after the release of Acoustic Verses, Nordhus says the band is in a significantly better frame of mind and appreciates what they have in each other.
“Those were some hectic years. It was such a short period of time. You look at what we did and it’s like, ‘Oh, wow!’ We did concert DVDs, singles, full-lengths…everything. Because of the experience we all have, it feels much more comfortable to play together. We’re more true to what we want to do. We don’t necessarily have the ultimate aim of headlining the Wacken festival. We’re happy with our situation in that we have people all over the world who are interested in what we’re doing and we mean something to them. Not everyone can say that. We want to do stuff that gives us energy and continue playing. Economy and money are not our driving force — it never was in the first place. We’re extremely ambitious when it comes to making music together and our live shows are better than ever. I don’t think we talked about those things 15 years ago.”