The Quiet, Acoustic Light of Darkness
Green Carnation, Beyond the Embrace and Deimos in in Des Moines, Iowa
by: Aaron McKay
Hairy Mary's was the venue selected for this show. It is located near the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa. The place is a little, non-descript store-front venue on the main drag with a long history of hosting acts the likes of Mortician and Rigor Mortis. Not to mention the fact Hairy Mary's isn't much more than a stones throw from where I live, this Green Carnation / Beyond the Embrace show was even slated for a Saturday night. Can one be this lucky? Whereas most metal acts avoid Iowa like plague, Green Carnation opted for a concert stop on their North American tour on such a most advantageous date. What a break!

A brand-spanking new band to me, Deimos, opened the show. The band’s name is Greek for panic, and this local five-piece found themselves panicked indeed by the whole host of sub-standard sound issues. That said, Deimos enjoyed its fair share of groupie support. Barring the feedback infested sound, Deimos' set of somewhat speedier Iron Maiden influenced material wasn't insufferable, but ultimately failed to capture the other-than-friend factor concert attendees' attention. On more than a few occasions I witnessed a few concert-goers, not schoolmates of the band, glancing off to nearby televisions broadcasting the hundred most attention-grabbing videos captured on tape. Feedback and tedium aside, there was faux pas on a much grander scale. The band, family and friends alike, did not support or commit to sticking around for the nationally signed bands to follow on stage, not to mention networking with accomplished artists of Green Carnation's caliber. If not rectified with maturity, this will be a shortcoming for Deimos that the band will live to regret.

Up next was the late-to-arrive on the scene, Massachusetts' Beyond the Embrace. This Metal Blade recording group found themselves hitting the stage at 7:40 pm minus a member, their third guitarist. 9:00 pm is the prerequisite end-time for the shows at Hairy Mary's, so with Green Carnation yet to play with their extensive catalog of material, the member-handicapped Beyond the Embrace eked out a meager four songs, including "My Fall" from the _Insect Song_ release.

Far less sound issues befell BtE's set, but it still remained a problem. For only scraping out a handful of tracks live that Saturday night, BtE was highly charged, extraordinarily energetic and forcefully heavy. It goes without saying that I would have loved to hear more from these up 'n' coming east coast lunatics.

8:20 pm saw Green Carnation hitting the stage. Thinking to myself, merely forty minutes to cram in a selection from the wide array of the band's considerable material will prove a challenge even for these well-weathered road warriors.

On tour in support of their newest release, _The Acoustic Verses_, Green Carnation announced to the sparse crowd they've "come a long way to play for you tonight" -- hailing from Norway, they weren't kidding either. Never having seen this band in a concert setting, the one thing that was immediately apparent was Green Carnation's recorded material falls far short of the live experience exhibited by these six masters of their craft.

By the fourth song, the infectiously driven "The Quiet Offspring", Green Carnation had completely mesmerized the fans squeezed toward the front of the stage. "Dead but Dreaming" followed next -- a piece compliments of Tchort, the band's founder and sustaining member.

Up next was a highly fascinating display of talent taking the form of a bass verses guitar duel leading into a wonderfully ghostly rendition of "Purple Door, Pitch Black" from _The Quiet Offspring_.

Winding up their slightly over forty minute set, Green Carnation executed flawlessly beautiful versions of "Lullaby in Winter" and "Myron & Cole" from the 2003 effort _A Blessing in Disguise_. Two perfect song selections to culminate an immaculate set.

Some critics have called them prog-metal, others ambient rock, but the truth of the matter is Green Carnation defies classification. With Tchort's roots sunk deep into the black metal scene and vocalist Kjetil Nordhus' opera experience, I dare say Green Carnation's sound is as hard to pin down as a politician on a contentious issue. Regardless, this band is first-rate and stunningly powerful live. If the opportunity presents itself, capitalize on it; do yourself a favor and experience Green Carnation in concert. There exists no substitution for clever proficiency -- something found in abundance with these Norwegians.

(article submitted 15/3/2006)

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