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Album Reviews : Nightwish – Imaginaerum

By on January 25, 2012

I was unsure what to expect from Nightwish‘s seventh studio album, ‘Imaginaerum’. To be honest, the previous album, ‘Dark Passion Play’ was as about as exiting as a Susan Boyle concert. Don’t get me wrong. The concept behind ‘Dark Passion Play’ was great and the music was spot on, as per usual. However, Anette Ozlon’s first attempt signing in Nightwish after Tarja Turunen was dropped from the band seemed like armageddon had arrived early.

Many Nightwish fans, myself included were not quite sure how to take this new addition to the band. Anette’s constant bubblegum pop infused singing saturated the album and didn’t quite suite its aesthetic features. It constantly down played the seriousness of Tuomas Holopainen’s majestic and at times, eccentric and childlike story telling. In a way it seemed almost cliche as Anette tried so valiantly to fit into Tarja’s shoes, whilst offering something unique in her own right to Nighwish fans.

Many of the band’s adoring stalkers fans however, saw differently and hopelessly gripped onto the last remaining fragments of Tarja Turunen before she disappeared into obscurity. What ensued was constant bickering and die-hard fans spreading viral hypocrisy across Facebook and beyond.

‘Imaginaerum’ is the precursor for Nightwish’s upcoming blockbuster movie of the same title. Which should be made available sometime this year. After speaking with Tuomas Holopainen on the phone a couple of months ago in regards to the new album. It would seem quite obvious to motivate the man to mix his vivid imagination and the creativity of cinema together. When first speaking to Tuomas, he seemed somewhat odd, albeit conservative. Yet, I held nothing against the man as his imagination and musical aspirations have brought both clarity and happiness to many. If anything, Tuomas Holopainen isn’t afraid to share his imagination with the world. He is a self proclaimed incarnation of Peter Pan made physical.

After much procrastination I finally put on ‘Imaginaerum’, sat back and an hour and fifteen minutes later emerged in disbelief. What I heard was in fact the true essence of Nightwish. Every aspect of ‘Imaginarum’ from the delivery of each song to the evolution of Anette’s now present versatile vocal range is leaps and bounds ahead in comparison to the previous album.

The album literally plays out like a movie, defined with attention to detail. Offering some very memorable orchestral arrangements, accompanied by some explosive heavy riffs, symphonic breakdowns and catchy choruses. The opening number, ‘Taikatalvi’ literally means “magic winter” in Finnish which introduces the snow flake theme. A theme which continually emerges throughout the album and movie.’Storytime’ is the first single off the album offering up some tasty riffs and an upbeat chorus. Its typical Nightiwsh through and through.

Bassist, Marco Hietala seems to be more involved this time round than in the previous album. He offers a good variation of vocal styles between Anette’s now present multilayer vocal range. As both add depth and contrast to tracks ‘Ghost River’ and ‘The Crow, The Owl and the Dove’, which Marco solely wrote. ‘Slow, Love, Slow’ tips its hat to 1930’s jazz inspired nightclub music. A first for Nightwish, which I’m sure will surprise many new and old and is a prime example of Anette’s vocal evolution. ‘I Want My Tears Back’ infuses Celtic elements. Adding an upbeat nature to the song’s sombre backdrop and is a prime example of the band’s more approachable songs for first time listeners. ‘Arabesque’, an instrumental piece. It plays out much like an intermission of a movie. Giving the listener a much needed break from the intensity and nightmarish visions of ‘Scaretale’.

‘Turn Loose the Mermaids’ is prime example of a great Nightwish ballad done well. Its spaghetti western influence nearing its end reminds me so much of the Sergio Leone Dollars trilogy, made famous by Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef throughout the 1960’s. ‘Songs for Myself’, an epic fourteen minutes in length, divided into four parts. Is a homage to American poet Walt Whitman, expressing his beliefs in Transcendentalism and Romanticism. The crisis of our own identity. There is truth that beauty is in all of us, regardless of how ugly the world can be sometimes.

What remains is ‘Imaginaerum’, an outro most likely conceived for the movie’s end credits. Its Tim Burton ‘esque influence and the reemergence of the snow flake theme is a fitting end to an enchanting story and the power of one’s imagination. 9/10

Band: Nightwish
Album: Imaginaerum
Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
Label: Roadrunner Records/Nuclear Blast
Origin: Finland

Track Listing:

1. Taikatalvi
2. Storytime
3. Ghost River
4. Slow, Love, Slow
5. I Want My Tears Back
6. Scaretale
7. Arabesque
8. Turn Loose the Mermaids
9. Rest Calm
10. The Crow, the Owl and the Dove
11. Last Ride of the Day
12. Song of Myself
13. Imaginaerum


Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook