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Album Reviews : Nightwish – Vehicle of Spirit

By on December 16, 2016

nightwishvehicledvdcoverNuclear Blast were kind enough to send me an advanced copy of Nightwish‘s new gargantuan (on paper) live DVD. Vehicle of Spirit contains the full shows from Wembley and Tampere in 2015, as well as a mixed bag of goods on a third disc.

Personally attending this very tour in Copenhagen just a month or so before the Wembley show took place, I’ve been extremely excited ever since the announcement of the DVD. I have seen Nightwish live with Tarja Turunen, Anette Olzon and with Floor Jansen (on multiple occasions) and last year was definitely the best I’ve ever seen them, so I was curious about if they would be able to capture that very magic on tape this time around. I wasn’t too impressed with “Showtime, Storytime”. I felt that a festival (even if it is Wacken) wasn’t quite the right venue for a live release and the audio was lacking a fair bit. I have been a fan of this band for about as long as I can remember. I have been watching their very first live DVD, “From Wishes To Eternity”, religiously for over ten years. “End of An Era” is in my view the pinnacle of metal live shows.

The first disc contains the Wembley show that was filmed on December 15, 2015. It is evident from the very first seconds of “Shudder Before The Beatiful” that Nightwish finally got it right once again. I have been waiting for this moment since the release of “End of An Era”. Visually, the massive screens that are spanning the entire stage are displaying absolutely gorgeous and perfectly timed graphics, the lights are some of the best you’ll ever see at a metal concert and the pyrotechnics are almost (ALMOST) approaching Rammstein levels. This fact, accompanied by an enthusiastic and capacity crowd, makes for a damn good arena for a live recording. This being said, no amount of pyro or lights could save a band that didn’t sound up to par or brought the energy required for a massive show to the stage. Nightwish is a fancier band now than 10 years ago, using a more elaborate stage and more pyrotechnics, but this hasn’t made them lazy at all. Some bands lean back on their visuals live, but I feel that Nightwish is doing the exact opposite. They feel and look more energetic now than they ever did between the period of “Dark Passion Play” and “Imaginaerum”.

The one thing that will always bring this DVD down, on a highly personal level, is the setlist. I am not a massive fan of “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”, and while I understand that the band was promoting the release at the time, there are so many missed opportunities in terms of overlooked material. “Yours is An Empty Hope” and “Weak Fantasy” might be some of the best moments on this DVD (especially with Kai Hahto’s little drumming venture before the latter) but “The Greatest Show On Earth” might appear grand, but it is an unworthy finish to such a brilliant show. “Élan” might be this album cycle’s version of “Amaranth”, but once again, there are so many more interesting songs that could have been included.

Other than this, it really is the perfect live release. Marco Hietala and Floor Jansen’s vocals are one hundred percent on point, as always. The band seems to be in a very good space at the moment, every member interacting and joking around with each other. Troy Donockley has been with the band for quite some time now, and honestly he’s one of the main reasons as to why Nightwish are so damn entertaining live nowadays. He’s an absolute musical wizard. I can only agree with the banner in the front row that states, “We Love Troys Massive Pipes ;)”, something that noticeably the entire band found very amusing. I anticipated that I would miss seeing Jukka Nevalainen, one of my all-time favourite drummers, behind the kit but Kai Hahto is one of best temporary replacements the band could have ever found. His technical abilities continuously blows my mind and if it wasn’t for my sentimental attachments to Nevalainen I wouldn’t mind Hahto becoming the permanent drummer of Nightwish.

My personal highlight is without a doubt “The Poet and The Pendulum”. It is one of my favourite Nightwish tracks ever and Floor’s vocal performance pushes it right into legendary status. “Alpenglow” isn’t too exciting on the album, but it is absolutely goosebump-worthy in a live setting such as this.

Disc 2 captures essentially the same live show, but in a very different setting. Returning home to the Ratinan Stadion in Tampere, Finland, the band put their biggest ever stage production on display, and it must have been an eveninng to remember for everyone involved. The few setlist changes are for the better, Dark Chest of Wonders and She Is My Sin are both heavy-hitters that rarely if ever should be omitted from a Nightwish setlist.

The extra disc is containing fragments of shows from various places in the world, most notably from the band’s show in Sydney earlier this year, as well as an interview with Richard Dawkins. All in all, it is a fantastic release. The sound is the key component, and the band has completely nailed it this time around. Nightwish has quietly been conquering the world for the last decade, and this is not the end product, but a milestone. With Floor Jansen now leading the band, in what finally seems to be a comfortable atmosphere, Nightwish will rise even higher still, becoming one of the all-time greats.

Vehicle of Spirit will be out on now (via Nuclear Blast) and is available for pre-order via the Official Nightwish webshop.

About

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.