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Album Reviews : Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful

By on March 27, 2015

484405When I was sent this album, I was too excited for words. I had essentially waited for this very moment for over a year. After having watched the “Making of” series on Youtube and having read plenty of comments from various personnel involved in the album creation process, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t expecting Endless Forms Most Beautiful to be Nightwish’s absolute return to grace and consequently 2015’s best album, no questions asked.

The most obvious change since Imaginaerum is the vocalist swap. Anette Olzon out, Floor Jansen (ReVamp, After Forever) in. This wouldn’t be news to most Nightwish fans as Floor has been touring extensively with the band since 2012 and has handled the vocal duties brilliantly.

Another, almost equally important, member addition is the master of the pipes, Troy Donockley. Troy’s first collaboration with the band was on the 2007 release Dark Passion Play. He is now a permanent member of the band. Drummer Jukka Nevalainen is sidelined indefinitely due to illness and is replaced by Wintersun drummer Kai Hahto.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a concept album, primarily inspired by Charles Darwin’s work. The narrations on the album are spoken by Richard Dawkins.

The first track on the album is “Shudder Before The Beautiful” (which was released as a free download the other week, props to Nightwish/Nuclear Blast for this). This song feels heavily inspired by the Wishmaster/Oceanborn sound, meaning that the guitars has once again been given a central role, this goes for most of the album.

Next up is “Weak Fantasy”. This is the first time that Floor is given the opportunity to shine. Sadly, opportunities like this are few and far between and it feels like she has to hold back on most of the songs. However, the mix of raw symphonic metal and folk elements throughout parts of album creates a sound that is like something I haven’t really heard anywhere else before and so far I am really enjoying it.

Being the first single of the album “Élan” definitely feels like the “safe” song. It isn’t really that exciting and not very memorable. It is not a bad song, I see is as this album’s “Amaranth”, it serves its purpose of showcasing Nightwish to the uninitiated, but the true gems can be found elsewhere.

Like night and day, the doomsday intro of “Yours Is An Empty Hope” swoops in. The contrast between this and “Élan” is remarkable. If “Slaying The Dreamer”, “Master Passion Greed” and “Dark Chest of Wonders” all merged into one song, this would be it. Floor’s and Marco’s vocals work extremely well together and guitar work on this track is remarkable.

The intro of “Our Decades In The Sun” feels like it’s been taken straight out from a The Legend of Zelda title. It is absolutely beautiful. This ballad is different, sort of uplifting, but at the same time very emotional. Nightwish has produced many great ballads throughout their career and this is one of the best ones to date.

The journey continues with “My Walden”. The folk elements are magnificent, and together with Floor’s stunning vocals they forge something truly special. Next up is the title track, and it is probably the weakest song on the entire album. There’s nothing wrong with it, to me it’s just not memorable. It feels like an epilogue to the opener, just a lot bleaker.

As we head into the final part of the album, the overall feel changes a fair bit. In my mind I’m taken to a dark and starry night in the snowy North. Both “Edema Ruh” and “Alpenglow” are slow growers. The first time I heard them I was disappointed, but with time I’ve started to really appreciate their beauty. They both make me long for a long and cold winter back in Sweden.

“The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula” is a mighty six minute instrumental piece that more than anything serves as a mood setter for the 24 minute giant that is “The Greatest Show On Earth”. I won’t go into too much detail about this one as that would require another thousand words. Does the song feel forced or pretentious at all? For the most part, no. Did it really have to be this long? Maybe not, but it does work quite well. The end reminds me of the poem in “Song of Myself”. However, this time it is Richard Dawkins rambling on about birth and how lucky we are to be born. I love the poem in “Song of Myself”, this, not so much.

And just like that, this journey is over. There are songs that grabs your attention straight away and songs that will take some time to reach their full potential. A great mix and while the album isn’t quite what I expected to begin with, I am excited about the path that the band has taken.

If you haven’t listened to Nightwish before, I would encourage you to listen to “Yours Is An Empty Hope, My Walden” and “Alpenglow”.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is out in stores on March 27 via Roadrunner. Make sure to check out Élan below!

Genre: Power/Progressive metal
Label: Roadrunner, Nuclear Blast
Origin: Kitee, Finland


  1. Shudder Before The Beautiful
  2. Weak Fantasy
  3. Élan
  4. Yours Is An Empty Hope
  5. Our Decades In The Sun
  6. My Walden
  7. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
  8. Edema Ruh
  9. Alpenglow
  10. The Eyes of Sharbat Gula
  11. The Greatest Show On Earth


Martin is an aspiring music photographer/videographer. He is originally from the southern parts of Sweden and now he's living in Sydney, Australia. Thanks to his older sister, he got into Rammstein at the age of 9, and since then he's been into all types of metal/rock. He loves to combine photography and music, but also filming concerts and produce live material. Follow him on Twitter and check out his website.