Nightwish/Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from Kitee, Finland. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardistTuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka Nevalainen, and then bassist Sami Vänskä after the release of its debut album, Angels Fall First (1997). In 2002, Vänskä was replaced by Marco Hietala, who also took over the male vocalist role previously filled by Holopainen or guest singers.[1]

Although Nightwish have been prominent in their home country since Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000) and Century Child (2002). Their 2004 album, Once, has sold more than one million copies[2] and was the band’s breakthrough in the United States. Their biggest US hit single, “Wish I Had an Angel” (2004), received MTV airplay and was included on three US film soundtracks to promote their North American tour.[3][4] The band produced three more singles and two music videos for Once, as well as a re-recording of “Sleeping Sun” for the “best of” compilation album, Highest Hopes (2005), before Turunen’s dismissal in October 2005.[3] Her last performance with Nightwish was recorded on the live album/DVD End of an Era; after the show, the other members announced to Turunen that she was no longer a member of Nightwish.

In May 2007, Nightwish announced Anette Olzon as Turunen’s replacement.[5] That September, the band released their sixth album,Dark Passion Play, which has sold almost 2 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Amaranth“, became one of Nightwish’s most successful in Europe.[6] The supporting tour, one of the band’s largest, started on October 6, 2007 and ended on September 19, 2009.[7][8] The band released an EP/live album, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), in March 2009 as a CD/DVD, and their seventh studio album, Imaginaerum, was released globally on various days in late 2011/early 2012.[2][9]

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced that they had parted ways with Olzon and would be finishing the current tour withReVamp and former After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen.[10][11] In October 2013, Nightwish made Jansen and longtime sessionuillean pipes player Troy Donockley permanent members of the band, and they were featured in the acclaimed album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, released in March, 2015.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000 certifiedcopies.[12][13][14][15][16] The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 8 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles.

The Analysis

Shudder Before The Beautiful—-I admit, I approach this release with some trepidation. A band that I fell in love with has gone through so many changes in the past few years…but the introduction and first taste of a new vocalist fills me with hope. This is consistent and familiar. The guitars and drums…the entire orchestration, is more forceful than expected. This track has a huge full sound…the breaks and bursts from the guitars are classic Nightwish….very nice!

Weak Fantasy—-The intro to this track is fuckin’ brilliant…there is a nice aggression to the music that I have not hear from this outfit in quite sometime. The moment the vocal hits, I am a bit disappointed…the airy breezy feel seems out of place to me. But the entrance of Tuomas on vocals gives the track a punch of aggression that is needed. Classic stuff!!!

Elan—-The lead in single from this release is a strong contender for one of my favorite songs from this bands entire catalog. The gentle flute that introduces the track leads into a melodic guitar force that reminds me of cold snow and capped mountains. The voice is so consistent wit the bands previous recordings….obviously there are long lines of women waiting to give this band a try! The music builds and the chorus becomes a catchy affair that I have listened to over and over. This is not a disappointment…but rather a triumph.

Yours Is An Empty Hope—-With a huge flourish of an intro, you can have no question what band this is. This plays for a moment like a soundtrack…than…just as quick the guitar enters the fray and turns the whole affair into an aggressive romp through progressive metal land. The joint vocals and back drop double layered vocal gives the song the most aggressive sound of anything yet on this release. The melody is brilliant….and the instrumentation classic metal. This is incredible!!!

Our Decades In The Sun—-Slowing things down to a snails pace, the vocal is too much like a re-vamped Tarja. This is a bit to sedate for me…the strings a bit to heavy and the gentleness a bit annoying. The piano adds little to pump up this track and I dismiss the entire thing….not what I was hoping for.

My Weldon—-At first listen, I was not sure what to make of this track. It does grow on you…but the vocal is almost too pretty at the onset. The music lacks a muscularity….sounding a bit flat. Te chorus though…..WOW!!! It has an addictive harmony that stays with you and allows you to forgive the less than triumphant sound of the rest of the song. This is a favorite…but only for the huge chorus.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful—-Returning to a somewhat more traditional Nightwish sound, The urgency in the guitars are back in tact and the music has a driving force to it that pleases my palate.I love this track….but it is all to do with Toumas. I don’t see a huge life for this vocalist either…if there was a disappointment with Tarja and her delivery…then this is more of the same. I much preferred Annette and wish she would have stuck around. This is beefier and more pleasing but it lacks life.

Edema Rush—-With yet another piano driven intro, the guitars kick in soon but sound like a constant revamp of everything we have heard thus far. The voice is way to pretty, as is the music for the most part. This release began so promising but seems to have run out of steam as quickly as it began.

Aspenglow—-This track allows a great instrumentation at the onset…but seems to fall away for the weaker voice. When the voices combine, the force is incredible…I really wish Toumas would sing more often and do away with all this pretty bullshit…this band can be damn aggressive when it wants to…but when it tries to allow for a gentle vocal it loses all of its appeal.

The Eyes Of Shabat —-Beginning with a slow ominous beat that fills you with hope and promise, the music almost has a sound of X-Factor era Iron Maiden. But then comes the damn irritating slow and pretty piano….removing my momentary elation This really was a disappointment for me.

The Greatest Show On Earth—-. Ending this release as much as the CD has delivered…I am left with a disappointed acid reflux…how long do we wait now for yet another replacement singer and a failed attempt at a career revival. The music is pleasant enough…but studio manufactured thunder can not save this release from the future bargain bin status. I had such hope and anticipation for this release…it sadly…fell very short.

*** out of 5

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