Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful

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Nightwish, the rulers of symphonic metal have returned and are ready to take over the world with their new album Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Nuclear Blast). This much anticipated album is the first studio album with not only Metal queen Floor Jansen on vocals, but also Wintersun drummer Kai Hahto, who took over when long-time drummer Jukka Nevalainen had to drop out due to health issues.

Composed primarily by Tuomas Holopainen, the sound on this new album hearkens back to the old Nightwish but one major difference is the vocal performance given by Floor. While she is fully capable of the high operatic capers we know from former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen, there is little of that on this album. Instead, we get to enjoy her full range of power and emotions, from very small and sweet vocals on ‘Élan’ and ‘Our Decades in the Sun’, to the intense and distorted power in ‘Yours is an Empty Hope’. In fact, this album shows an even greater range than her own projects (After Forever, ReVamp) have done.

The album also contrasts with previous Nightwish works in subject matter; while Imaginaerum (Nuclear Blast) dealt with the world of the imagination, this album describes the beauty of the natural world. In fact, the album title is a quote from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

‘Élan’ is the first single and video for the album, even though it is one of the softest songs on the album; Troy Donockley’s whistles give the son a Celtic vibe, and Floor’s vocals are sweet at first, however, this sweetness does not last the whole song, since towards the end a very pleasing modulation brings more powerful vocals. It might not be the song most representative of the album, but it is beautiful and driven. On the album ‘Élan’ is followed by ‘Yours is an Empty Hope’, a song that brings all the bombast one can hope to find in a Nightwish song. The heavy guitar riffs are supplemented with an excellent orchestra and choir, and it is the heaviest song on the album. Floor totally rips on these vocals, and it a very intense song to experience. Tuomas’ genius as a composer is demonstrated by the contrast between this and the next song, ‘Our Decades in the Sun’. Despite the gentility of this song, with ethereal choir song and such sweet vocals by Floor, the song still doesn’t fall flat, has an astounding energy for a song so serene, and is definitely one of my favourites from this album.

‘Weak Fantasy’ is epic, the title track is very catchy, and ‘Edemah Ruh’ is very smooth. However, there is one song that stands apart from anything Nightwish has ever produced, namely ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. This is the last song on the album, and lasts a staggering 23 minutes 58. There is no real good way to describe this song, other than as varied as nature itself; it has operatics, power vocals, narration, and instrumental sections and varies from intense piano to orchestral masterpieces, to heavy metal.

Trying to pick out highlights form this album is like trying to pick needles out of a stack of predominantly needles. There may be an occasional pin, depending on your personal tastes, but there is not a strand of hay in sight.

 

9.5/10

Nightwish on Facebook

 

LORRAINE LYSEN

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Nightwish announce Wembley (UK) show for December

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With their hotly anticipated eighth album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the first to feature new vocalist Floor Jansen (ex-After ForeverReVamp), due out on March 30 via Nuclear Blast, Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish have announced their most significant UK appearance to date, confirming they will be headlining a one-off exclusive show at the prestigious Wembley Arena on Saturday December 19.

The show sees the band become the first Finnish act to headline at the venue.

Mainman Tuomas Holopainen had this to say: “Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history from the downstairs of the legendary Astoria Club in London over ten years ago. This truly is a dream come true for us !”

Support comes from two big hitters in the form of Arch Enemy and fellow-Finns Amorphis.

 

Tickets go on sale this Friday 13th Feb at 10am and will be available here:
http://www.livenation.co.uk/artist/nightwish-tickets

 

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Endless Forms Most Beautiful can be pre-ordered via Nuclear Blast here.

 

 

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Tuomas Holopainen – The Life and Times of Scrooge

Tuomas Holopainen - Scrooge

The keyboardist from Nightwish has recorded a concept album about Scrooge McDuck. Read that sentence back again – your response to its very existence will tell you more than I could achieve in a thousand words.

Operating outside his famous alma mater for the first time, Holopainen has here abandoned every aspect of Nightwish’s sound that could be considered – no matter how controversially – Metal, pitching his sound in the kind of symphonic, culturally light-fingered soundtrack territory that suggests a lower-budget Enya. Swathes of mawkish synths hammer home cloying, heavy-handed melodies that seem to demand the listener has an emotional reaction, without providing appropriate reason to do so. Elsewhere, clumsy “ethnic” or celtic-sounding elements give the impression that Holopainen has been raiding the CDs in his local new-age shop.

Pretty much exactly what one would expect from keyboardist-minus-Nightwish, then, but one aspect in which the album fails to live up to reasonable expectations comes, regrettably, on the subject of fun. The concept sounds so ludicrous, so insane that one imagines the kind of tongue-in-cheek, unselfconscious silliness that can make even the terrible enjoyable for a time: Duck Tales samples, cartoonish key changes and the joyous middle-finger waving of a man who’s doing what he loves and doesn’t care what you think. It’s seriously disappointing, then, to realise how sober and restrained it is. Holopainen is taking his inspiration not from the cartoons but from Don Rosa’s well-regarded comic, and he’s at pains to make us realise just how “serious and moving” it is – there’s no Launchpad McQuack here, sadly. If Nightwish have anything to offer – and whether or not they do is a discussion for another place – then it’s surely the joyous, shameless sense of escapist fun that their best material captures, but that’s entirely absent from Life And Times.

An uninspired album of flat, featureless music which doesn’t provide any of the things that the small number of people who’ll actually want to listen to it will be hoping to hear. The soundtrack to a film you’d never watch.

2/10

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Richie H-R

A Question Of Balance – An Interview With ReVamp

Floor Jansen1Floor Jansen already has a distinguished career as a singer for After Forever and ReVamp, but things went to another level after a text message from a certain Mr. Holopainen called for her services as replacement for Annette Olzon, who left Nightwish mid-tour. This may all seem like a fairytale, but not too long ago Floor suffered from a burn out. This had profound consequences for Wild Card, the latest ReVamp album. Her adventures with Nightwish proved to be another major, albeit more satisfying, distraction from finishing the record. It’s all about finding the right balance as Floor candidly points out to Ghost Cult. Continue reading