Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today's 86th TBT features Green Carnation's second full-length album Light of Day, Day of Darkness. This softer death/progressive metal masterpiece clocks in at a length of 60 minutes and 6 seconds – however, there are no separate track listings. Light of Day, Day of Darkness is one hour-long song, making it one of the longest metal songs ever recorded. This gorgeous piece of music is meant to be listened to the way one would watch a movie, feeling pulled along by the story and the emotion. Read this brand-new interview with Green Carnation vocalist Kjetil Nordhus to learn more about this influential piece of work, where Green Carnation started, and what is next for these pioneers of Norwegian death metal.
GREEN CARNATION'S LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Release Date: November 2001
Record Label: The End, Prophecy Productions
What better time than now to write about Green Carnation for Throwback Thursday than now, because you have a new album coming out! You first new album in 14 years.
Yeah it won't be out until 2020. Yeah, so, we did release like live concert DVD in 2018, called the Last Day of Darkness.
I'm here with the vinyl copy of Light of Day, Day of Darkness. It's a gorgeous vinyl, I'm super into this. I love it because it has the lyrics printed on the inside jacket.
The lyrics are equally as important as the music. It's a story, and the lyrics go hand-in-hand with the story. I think that album is emotionally very moving for people, and I don't think the music would be that way alone. Together with the music, it's very touching for some people.
Let me get the boring questions out of the way first. Can you tell me about the band name, Green Carnation? Where did it come from?
It's not that boring! The answer isn't boring, because this band was originally formed around 1990, by a group of people, Tchort [guitars, lyrics] being one of them, Kobro [previous drummer] also being one of them I think, and they recorded a demo cassette [Hallucinations of Despair]. It was actually, maybe, Norway's very first death metal band. It was a period when Tchort was kind of hanging around with the guys in Oslo, around with the Helvete guys and started also playing in Emperor and stuff. And it was obviously before the internet came and the black metal militia in Oslo had heard about this Christiansan band, we live like 5 hours away by train or car from Olso, and they'd heard about this band new band named Christiansan being a death metal and they hated it. So I didn't dare tell them that it was his band, anyway, you were asking about the band name origin, Green Carnation. Well, I guess we put different things into the name now. They were 16 years old, and Tchort had a Norwegian-English dictionary so they could translate words and carnation sounded a bit like carnage and green carnation – the meaning back then when they were a death metal band was more about rotted, mutant flesh.
Wow, because I thought of spring, and a fresh beautiful new, tender, bud. Not carnage.
No, that was it. A bunch of 15 or 16 year old looking for a secretly brutal name. I would say that today, we put more into, uh the there is a flower called the green carnation, and also it was a big surprise for the original guys when the internet came and they figured out that 'green carnation' is actually a gay symbol. The biggest gay club in London is called The Green Carnation. I don't think that was a part of the plan. If you google green carnation, you'll get a bunch of gay stuff. Some people think it has to do with reincarnation, but it doesn't. A name is a name, it's the name we go by, but I don't love the name.
It is what it is.
Yeah, I don't really think about it anymore. There will be a 30 year anniversary in about a year [for the tape], maybe we should do something with it. I wouldn't think we would rehearse the demo, but maybe we can do something for it.
I read that this is album contains the longest metal song ever, Light of Day, Day of Darkness. So, why make it one, long song instead of tracks?
Light of Day, Day of Darkness is a story, kind of, both musically and lyrically the story is told from a to zed. It's kind of a crazy idea to not divide it into tracks. We could still divide it into pieces for Spotify or something like that, but over all we didn't want to compromise. When you watch a movie, you don't go into the movie and 2/3 of the way through watch a different ten minutes, or go directly to the first part again to back to the last part. It was an ambitious decision not to do it in tracks because no one had done it before, but it was the right thing for that song. Maybe it was stupid to do it this way because it didn't make things any easier. Maybe part of the reason the album got the status it did many years later is because we dared to do that, to challenge people to listen to it from the first to the last second.
That's one of the nice parts about owning this in vinyl. It forces you to listen to the album from start to finish, you can't skip tracks.
Yeah, absolutely. And there's a story line in the album. That's why we decided not to divide it into different songs or different parts.
Let's talk about some of the content. I read that the story behind this stems from Tchort and the death of his daughter and the birth of his son.
Yeah, you're completely right. Tchort wrote the lyrics, and it's his story about a period in his life where he lost his daughter when she was really young, and he was going to get a new son. He got a new son, and it deals with the shame of enjoying something you should enjoy, but dealing with the past. When we released Light of Day, Day of Darkness, we didn't talk too much about that. He did tell the entire story in the most recent DVD. So, it would be more correct for him to answer more about that. But it is about the big questions in life, and life of death of course, and the way he tried to deal with it. Life and death are universal themes.
What's it like to sing for that, and to be the person to portray that?
It is a big challenge to be honest with you. It's been something I've been working on for years. It would sound a feel different from anyone singing it. I worked a lot on it before going into the studio and we did experiment in the studio with different ways of singing it, and I had to kind of try and make it my own – make my own unique story. But as we talked about, I had to relate to it, just as all people do. It's not just performing some words, it's performing something that means something. For me, not only is it my friends words, but I had to make them my own. IF you perform worlds with no feelings, it's useless.
Metal Injection interviewed you about two years ago. Frank talked about dusting off the cobwebs from this album and maybe, potentially re-recording this album.
I kind of think we already did that by performing it live [for the DVD Last Day of Darkness]. Light of Day, Day of Darkness is a witness of it's time, the good and the bad. Some people love the sound of it, even the electronic drums. And, it was the way it was going to sound in 2001. It was tempting to do it again, and we've become 15 years older and wiser. We played with the idea of re-mixing and re-mastering this album but instead we just played it live. We made it modern, freshened up the sound, to make it sound like today, when we played it live.
I was also reading that 600 different samples were used in recording, I got this off of Wikipedia. Is that true or false?
Oh yeah, that's something I remember we talked about. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff in there. It's an hour long song, you know. If there were ten songs, there would be 60 samples each song. Some keyboard sounds, some rain sounds, some bells and strings that would be samples… It sounds like a crazy number, but I don't think you'd listen to the album and think it was artificial because of that. There's a lot of details in there.
When working on it live, we did it with two keyboard players because we needed one to be responsible for samples and organ, for example. The other one for strings and piano maybe. In 2016 when we performed the album live, we had the person who produced the album come and play keyboard for us.
Light of Day, Day of Darkness is an amazing album – that's why people are still talking about it. So, with the album being so intensely personal, why was it chosen to be sung and written in English instead of your native language?
That's a very interesting question. To be honest with you, I have been thinking a lot about that question. I have been working with young musicians for years and years being their mentor and stuff. That's kind of been my day job. I like the idea – I'm really fond of the idea of using your language when you wanna express something important. That's our main language, that's the language we talk best in, and I have to arrest myself sometimes because I haven't really done anything in my own language, because of the genre. The bands that we listen to and the bands that operate in our genre – wouldn't, we never heard it before in our own language. That genre is in English. You meet your idols and the people inspiring you did it in English.
Is there anything to come in your native language? I feel like there are words and concepts in Norwegian that wouldn't translate perfectly to English.
I would be surprised if we did. I have been doing this for 20 years in English. English is a part of Green Carnation's identity and we share that with our fans and stuff. We'd never say never, we even talked about doing something in Spanish. But I think we'll stick to the genre thing.
Thank you for talking with me today!
It has been my pleasure.
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