Published on Saturday, 04 April 2015 17:57
Album title: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Release date: 27 March 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
01. Shudder Before The Beautiful
02. Weak Fantasy
04. Yours Is An Empty Hope
05. Our Decades In The Sun
06. My Walden
07. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
08. Edema Ruh
10. The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula
11. The Greatest Show On Earth
12. Sagan [bonus]
One of the most anticipated albums this year must be Nightwish's eighth studio album, and with such a pompous promotion which was going on for more that one year, actually since that inglorious drama in 2012 when the band kicked out of its line-up the previous singer Anette Olzon, the anticipation among the fans grew even higher. Now, you all already know that the new singer is Floor Jansen who's known to the metal audience from After Forever, Star One and ReVamp, but can she be the right successor to the icon of female fronted metal Tarja and to the as well great Anette. Actually who's the lead singer in Nightwish doesn't really matter, as the music always speaks out of the heart of the main composer and keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen who dedicates himself to his art and this seeps through in every single note of his work. It's not a secret that Nightwish became long ago such a professional band that nothing is ever left to coincidence.
The one can't really compare Nightwish to any of the contemporary female fronted symphonic metal bands, because they are alpha and omega of the genre, and if I need to rate them then I should judge them just in comparison with their previous works, otherwise they can easily be rated with 10 out of 10, as this band is stelar years in front of any other band in this specific genre I heard lately and consider that more or less every female fronted symphonic metal band is just trying to copy what Nightwish ever did. Ok, now you can understand that Endless Forms Most Beautiful is an album par excellence from every possible aspect, regarding the compositional or productional side is professional, but as I said I can compare them only with them and at this very point it's obvious that this new output doesn't bring any major innovations in the Nightwish's sound, rather than that it slightly upgrades what the band achived so far, thus it doesn't realy set new standards of the genre like it was predicted, because they set them before. Maybe the whole thing is not as much dramatic as the previous two or three albums were, and Floor is not such an unique and gifted singer as was Tarja with her unique operatic voice, but she doesn't fall behind to as well great Anette, especially because of her soft yet powerful and deep voice. Nevertheless she did her job just right in here and eleven songs featured just shine even more of an uncompromising character.
As well there's a new face behind the drum kit, on account of health problems, long-time drummer Jukka Nevalainen has had to take a break and is replaced by his good friend Kai Hahto (Wintersun), no problem with that because Kai proved himself to be a noteworthy substitution. And the line-up is extended as well with the multiinstrumentalist Troy Donockley who contributed with some uilleann pipes, low whistles and additional backing vocals. We must trust Tuomas when he's saying that, "the new members were completely motivated and contributed large parts to the arrangements. They worked as a unit - much more than on all the albums before!" I'm not sure how much of an importance that is because on Endless Forms Most Beautiful you can still almost breathe and smell everything what stands for Tuomas Holopainen trademark.
Now, since the opener of this conceptual album based on the origin of life and quotations of Charles Darwin, also inspired by other famous scientists like Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan, the powerful and versatile absolute hit "Shudder Before The Beautiful" reminds us of the immense force of the Nightwish's compositions, grand symphonic bombastic elements converge so elegantly with catchy melodies and an absolute flow that's inherited in each part of the album. Then it nicely transforms into one of the darkest and rapid tracks up here, "Weak Fantasy", so many orchestral gothy synth layers all over mixed with passionate "in your face" rhythmic line just to offer a blistering experience. Even Floor already shows all her vocal versatility and you can't ignore how much passion and devotion is put into this piece. Then the first single from the album is on the line, but you all already know and memorized it, "Élan", in my opinion a typical Nightwish hit that beside being extremely catchy doesn't offer anything spectacular. After that it's the time for, if I can say so, two slight letdowns, the rather uninspired and teared up "Yours Is An Empty Hope" and one of the weakest ballads Nightwish ever did, "Our Decades In The Sun", but still enough dynamic and intriguing on their own.
The middle part of the album opens up with a fantastic celtic-folk hymn "My Walden" and all of the Donockley's imputs come right here to a best possible fruition. It's magickal, captivating and makes you wanna dance around the campfire if there's any around. Then the album title track comes forth with some of the most aggressive riffs on this album, but it's the popy chorus that captivates in the right way. One of the best songs on Endless Forms Most Beautiful is without doubt the dreamy "Edema Ruh", just listen in such emotive heavenly heights the chorus is about to take you and how fascinating it gets when the folkish pipes come along in a short part versus the end. Diverse and dynamic "Alpenglow" is the one with the most melancholic touch and in a way nicely connects the past and present of Nightwish, so it opens the way to the grand finale which starts with the ambiental, yet gloomy and mysterious instrumental "The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula" with diverse chants, female, male and children. The last one is the almost 25 minutes long epic and complex, the most theatrical up here, "The Greatest Show On Earth", and there's everything counted before in it, all of the Nightwish's primal elements are in there, but what enthuses more is the special blend of diverse almost cinematic moods, variety of vocals, from operatic, to powerful metal ones and spoken words, with a small vocal lapse in the higher tones by Floor somewhere in the middle. A truly fantasy based sonic world opened to discover.
All in all, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a great album signed by Nightwish, but still I expected something more evocative, a bit more coherent, more romantic, like it was for example Century Child, Once or even Dark Passion Play to name a few. I miss some more theatrical elements like were introduced to us on Imaginaerum, but that's just my point of view and I believe that the fans will embrace this album like each and every one before. It's an album that shines and stands above most of the recent works in the symphonic metal sector, there are so many harrowing choruses and parts that will be echoing in your ears for a long time, but what else could you expect from one of the most influential metal bands ever, you tell me?
Review written by: T.V.