Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Written by: MN on 08/09/2015 23:07:39

Oh, Nightwish. The epitome of a love/hate relationship, where one end of the tier praises the band's appetite for the theatrical, the grandeur and the sheer virtuosity of the musicians, all the while the other end of the flank scolds them for being pompous, flamboyant daydreamers that are living in a fantasy world ruled by swords and/or dragons. Either way, Nightwish have made a monumental impact on the metal world, for better or worse. So, at last, despite a very late judgement, here it is, my review of Nightwish's eighth full length album: "Endless Forms Most Beautiful".

Spanning a career of almost 20 years, Finnish Nightwish have one of the most dedicated followings in metal, despite having changed their vocalist thrice during that time. Discussions usually queue in the endless debate of whether Nightwish can ever reach the heights they achieved with the immortalized operatic vocals of Tarja Turunen, their first vocalist. Tarja featured on the first five records, of which "Once" is probably their biggest success, and from which the song "Nemo" is arguably their most famous single. Following Tarja's dismissal, the Swedish Anette Olzon took over vocal duties on the following two releases. The first, "Dark Passion Play”, garnered critical acclaim and saw Nightwish return to form with just as epic an approach as before, but with a less operatic touch. Following the release of "Imaginaerium", Nightwish once again began auditioning for a new lead vocalist, eventually landing their choice on the Dutch Floor Jansen, who features on this given record. Alright, history lesson over; let's get down to scrutiny.

The album opens very convincingly with "Shudder Before the Beautiful”, on which the orchestration leads in neo-classical elements, and thunderous riffs queue in as we anticipate the first impressions of Jansen. Off the get go, it is clear that Jansen wants to ease into this role without too much of an asinine display of vocals. The melody line is straight forward, and I end up enjoying the somewhat more organic and down-to-earth softness of this new vocalist. Her vocal lines bring in thoughts of Cristina Scabbia (of Lacuna Coil fame) via this more stripped-down approach. Things continue on the heavier side throughout "Weak Fantasy”, and on the onset of "Èlan", until the folksy elements begin to play to the hearts of the nostalgic. Being the first single of the record, it is immediately recognizable and becomes lodged in your auditory memory with haste. Again, Jansen takes a humble approach here, only providing small snippets of her commendable range.

In terms of songwriting, the mastermind Tuomas Holopainen stays on track with a consistent supply of melodic and atmospheric, power-metal tinged ballads, but also challenges his predetermined formula through the bombastic and super ambitious "The Greatest Show on Earth”, a song tallying in at 24 minutes. It is progressive in nature, and luckily does not get tiresome as the final piece of the album. "Yours is an Empty Hope" is one of the heavy-hitters, featuring male vocals by bassist Marco Hietala. But, without dismissing the ultra-catchy character of ”Edema Ruh”, the real ear-clinger of the album is "My Walden”, exemplary of the variety, distinct flavour and instrumental exploration carried out by Holopainen on virtually every song.

No one can deny that Nightwish aim astronomically high in their productions. The full orchestral sound and the endless folk elements keep your head bedazzled and send your fantasy off into different realms. For fans of symphonic gothic metal, Nightwish is, according to my understanding, still one of the best bands out there within their field, and if you do not count yourself as one of the haters, then why not take a listen? You just might enjoy it.

Download: My Walden, The Greatest Show On Earth, Èlan
For The Fans Of: Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Sonata Arctica
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.03.2015
Nuclear Blast

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