Green Carnation, the prog metal legends are back with their first new album in fourteen years. Leaves Of Yesteryear is a triumphant step forward for the band. However, it is also a clearheaded look into the past. With some of the band's strongest tracks to date, Green Carnation once more capture the imagination. Though they may have peaked with 2001's all-time classic, Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness this latest offering certainly merits repeat listens. The new tracks repeatedly prove that Green Carnation are rightfully regarded as gods in the genre. The album features both a re-recording of "My Dark Reflections Of Life And Death" and a cover of Black Sabbath's "Solitude." Consequently, Leaves Of Yesteryear spends almost as much time looking back as they do moving forward.
There are some real masterworks among the new tracks. In particular, the song 'Sentinels' shines with its massive chorus and deeply emotional approach. The elegant poetry of 'Hounds' further demonstrates that Green Carnation remain one of the best progressive metal bands in the world. There is a clear understanding of the genre's tropes, but Leaves Of Yesteryear goes so far beyond that. The vocal performances are perhaps stronger than ever. Compositions that have had more time to germinate than ever before also seem even more intricate. There is a palpable sense of majesty as the band starts to unveil the breadth of what they have created with the eponymous opening track. It's just a lot to take in.
Obviously any album called Leaves Of Yesteryear will have a tendency to be somewhat nostalgic. That being said, the new version of "My Dark Reflections Of Life And Death" is in some ways better than the original. The production work of Endre Kirkesola (Abbath, Solefald) is truly excellent. He allows the band to shine in a way they never have before. Each of the records many layers finds new life in what he conjures up. This all being said – the Black Sabbath cover is definitely a highlight of the record. "Solitude" is one of the stranger songs from Sabbath's classic period. However, it functions as the perfect coda. Green Carnation's version manages to gently set the listener down to sleep as they prepare for sonic adventures to come.
Prog metal is often a genre that gets lost within itself. There's a lot of navel-gazing and boring songs that drag on. Green Carnation manage to avoid all of this. Instead Green Carnation use Leaves Of Yesteryear to prove once again they are titans of the craft. This album is a veritable tour de force for the band. There is so much to get lost in. The forlorn cry of "Light of day, day of darkness" on 'My Dark Reflections Of Life And Death' is a perfect reminder of where all this came from. It also serves as a reminder that Green Carnation seek to move forward despite the ghosts of the past. Leaves Of Yesteryear is a thrilling listen and one that bears coming back too countless times. It is, in a word, masterful.