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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
As a long time Nightwish fan, I've long been of the opinion that their second and third albums (Oceanborn and Wishmaster), were their finest work. While I enjoyed all of their subsequent releases, none have ever compared to these two fantastic albums. Until now, that is!
This ambitious and incredible album has, in my opinion, outdone all of their previous works. Its scale and scope is incredible. No two songs sound alike and yet all work together to become their most ambitious, yet solid album to date.

Annette, who I was left somewhat unsure of following Dark Passion Play, has well and truly hit her mark here. Her vocal style and range is exactly what this album needed and it's clear that unlike Dark Passion Play, this album was written with her vocal style in mind.
She sounds confident and comfortable in her role here, and complements each song perfectly.
This is a fabulously broad, ambitious and epic album by one of the greatest writers of all time. I cannot recommend this album enough.

Welcome back Nightwish, you have been missed!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2012
During the long build-up to the release of this album, where fans were kept savvy by studio reports from the band and the occasional YouTube upload, I admit that a small part of me was unsure whether Nightwish were going to be able to make an album that would top (or at least match) predecessor Dark Passion Play, and where Anette Olzon would be able to pull off another amazing vocal performance that would hopefully help to lay the ever-present and nagging comparisons to sacked ex-vocalist Tarja Turunen to rest. But I had every confidence in Tuomas Holopainen's songwriting and imagination, in Anette's brilliance as a vocalist and frontwoman, and in the incredible musicianship and chemistry of the band in general to believe that the group were about to release another defining metal album.

I got the album, listened to it, and knew I was right.

This album is a record that delivers one great track after another, where there isn't a single dud on the whole album, and you can't ask for more than that. Whether it be the awe-inspiring and multi-faceted ideas that Tuomas pours into every album, the perfect dual vocal harmonies of Anette and bassist Marco Hietala, the slick guitar work of Emppu Vuorinen or the romantic wail of guest musician Troy Donockley's uilleann pipes, every song on here has something great and exciting to offer, regardless of whether it is soft or loud. The album also fits together very well on the whole, proof again that the band managed to think this record out without losing sight of its overall purpose.

To list the standout tracks from the album would be to list at least half the album, but a couple of my personal favourites are "Turn Loose The Mermaids", "Ghost River" and, above all, the pagan dancefest that is "I Want My Tears Back". "Mermaids" is a pleasant little number that slowly rises to a climax that will ideally have the listener's heart soaring to Anette's passionate vocals. "Ghost River" sounds like it would fit perfectly as the theme to a white-water ride at an adventure theme park (again echoing an underlying theme of the whole album), and from the first lick of Emppu's driving riff, you know you're in for an awesome ride. As for "I Want My Tears Back", just be blown away by the combination of Donockley's pipes and a metal rhythm section that of course enhances them rather than holding them back, and during the fast-paced mid-section, just get up and dance!

I loved this album when I heard it, and a month or two on still listen to bits and pieces from it nearly every day. Undoubtedly one of the top metal releases of 2011, I hope this album will encourage any older Nightwish fans to let go of Tarja Turunen and give Anette Olzon a chance. For all her unique vocal talent and stage persona, Tarja was a disrespectful band member. Hence the band's decision to continue without her. Tuomas has claimed that Anette brought a much-needed air of optimism and good humour to Nightwish, and I would agree with him on that one. She works better as a band member than Tarja did towards the end, and as a frontwoman is a lot more "bohemian" than Tarja was, who in 2004-5 just became too assured of her own apparent irreplaceability. Listen to Imaginaerum with an open mind, then have another listen to Dark Passion Play as well. Hopefully you'll realise that this is Anette's era now. You can have respect for Nightwish's past, but you need not live in it.
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on 7 December 2013
This review is a little bit late to the party, but as a result I have had plenty of time to listen to the songs and let them settle in my mind. This is a large album with grand ideas and deserves a certain amount of attention before forming any kind of opinion.

Although it doesn't quite tell a story, this is a concept album based around the theme of the importance of stories. In a way it is a logical extension of Century Child's themes of the value of innocence, and explores this territory more fully. It is clear that this means a lot to Tuomas, and the band have clearly worked hard to create a masterpiece by complimenting the album with a film and a soundtrack. It's a typically grandiose aim for Nightwish, but they have the talent to pull it off. The question is, did they?

For me, the answer is only 'sort of'. This isn't necessarily a problem, after all Sergeant Pepper's only 'sort of' works as a concept album but is still an unquestionable classic. But it is enough to prevent me being as enthusiastic as some of the others reviewers. The musical arrangement are peerless and compliment the songs perfectly, but for me the lyrics and at times the selection of songs included prevent it from hitting the mark.

The first song has the clever idea of winding up a music box to start the story and is a cute song, but I feel that the first song on the album is too early to have lyrics in Finnish, especially when it is introducing the concept on which the rest of the album will rest. I don't have a problem with Nightwish singing in Finnish, but given that the next song explains the concept in English I find myself skipping track one which only really has value because of its wind-up intro. Not a big problem, but songs that you skip weaken an album.

Slow, Love, Slow seems to be a curious addition. It is actually my favourite song on the album, but I am a fan of blues and love the collaborations between Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart which it's sultry vocals and jazzy arrangements are so reminiscent of. It doesn't seem to fit either the concept or the feel of the album aside from providing a nice contrast in pace to the rollercoaster thrill of Ghost River.

I Want My Tears Back has a Euro-pop feel to it, despite the Celtic instrumentation (which is excellent). Lyrically it fits in well with Turn Loose The Mermaids, which describes the return of the protagonist's tears, but for me it feels slightly out of place. Scaretale starts off perfectly with discordant strings and a nursery rhyme, building the anticipation of fantastic, terrifying story. Unfortunately, all it delivers is a mismatched montage of images, evoking a weird dream more than anything else. It would be a scary dream, featuring witches, snakes and a spooky circus, but none of it quite hangs together and it feels like a missed opportunity for a truly great song.

The last track (and the title track) is another that I skip, although it is well done for what it is. It could be described as the Imaginarium Suite, and is a medley of songs from the album. It would be a nice outro, but the profound 'Song of Me' does that job so well that Imaginarium feels totally superfluous.

At its best, this album feels like a trip to a theme park, the interwoven vocals of Marco and Annette soaring over beautiful fairy tale images, plunging down into visions from a nightmare and pulling you inexorably along on the ride, leaving the words to carousel in your mind for hours after. Existing fans will love it, but since it is so grandiose and ambitious it is unlikely to convert many new fans that were previously put off by Nightwish's style. A good album and well worth checking out for existing fans, but for me not quite the masterpiece it wants to be.
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on 25 February 2012
I really enjoy the fact that I can blast Nightwish throughout the house while my children are playing nearby: no dirty nasty lyrics, no swearing. And yet 210% Awesome all the way! Somehow Nightwish manages to create an album that lacks absolutely nothing ~ while avoiding the use of dirty lyrics which just cheapen a song to no end.

Oh, and there is more:

Originally I was put off by this CD because the whole "Dark Carnival" thing struck me as overdone and just plain boring.

BUT I decided to get over my irritation and I actually listened to the CD a few times. WOWZA! This is when I discovered that **once again** Nightwish has nailed it with their amazing voices, fantastic guitars ~ all set against the backdrop of an orchestra and choir, some of the songs inter-woven with superior celtic or Arabian music. My dislike of the "dark carnival" quickly changed to respect for a band that can take a tired theme and re-create it in ways I never anticipated. I began to like the songs, then my like morphed into sheer adoration and I have listened to this album a dozen times already ~ I don't plan to stop any time soon!

The music MOVES and so do the lyrics: Nightwish seems to have mastered the art of rocking you from the inside out, somehow plugging straight in to your emotions and your own inner energy. I always walk away from their music feeling as if I have just returned from experiencing them live in my house!

Also, with this set, CD #2 is just plain magnificent. What a bonus! No words, just the raw music and choir bits. Perfect for those creative times when I want to paint or draw or write and I don't want the lyrics to get in my head.

I am not a big fan of the early Nightwish, pre-orchestra. It strikes me as tinny and cheesy. But I absolutely LOVE this album ("Imaginaerum") and also "Dark Passion Play."

Keep it up, Nightwish! You are amazing!! GIVE US MORE!! :-))
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
Imaginaerum is the highly anticipated seventh studio album from Nightwish and the second with singer Anette Olzon. So four years have passed since Dark Passion Play and of particular interest is the fact that this time the band returns with an album and a movie which will be released in 2012. The movie is based on the album and not the other way around. It sounds ambitious, doesn't it? But let's move on to the music part.

A first thing that can be noted is that this is definitely their most diverse effort to date. It feels like Tuomas tries to combine all his influences and link them in the best possible way. And without a doubt, he succeeds! Also, Anette sounds more confident and shows a lot of diversity herself. Of course every member is perfect in their role. No need to mention that, once again, the band works with the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir group Metro Voices. Both arranged and directed by Pip Williams, give the great extra element and lead to impressive results.

Nightwish never really had an intro in previous albums but the first song is exactly that. Completely sang by Marco in Finnish, `Taikatalvi' is a beautiful acoustic song which serves as a very good introduction to the journey that follows.

`Storytime' which follows is the first single of the album and this is an obvious choice. It is very uplifting, with a very catchy melody and chorus. However, it also includes a full orchestra and the symphonic element is not missing. A very good song indeed.

`Ghost river', is a very heavy and rhythmic song. It offers an intriguing duet between Anette and a powerful and darker Marco. The children's choir in the end blends perfectly and adds to the whole atmosphere.

`Slow, love, slow' is a very surprising song with a lounge-bar jazz feeling. It is different for Nightwish but has a unique atmosphere and builds up nicely allowing Anette to perform really well.

`I want my tears back' is a great song that will be stuck in your head. It is uplifting, with folk/Celtic influences (e.g., `Last of the wilds') and a fantastic duet between Marco and Anette. The Celtic pipe melodies are also fantastic. By the way, I liked her approach in the first verses: more towards an angelic Sharon den Adel type of vocals. And Marco is always the familiar loveable Marco!

`Scaretale' is a rollercoaster! The sound is very cinematic and blends the classic symphonic sound of Nightwish with a circus/rollercoaster atmosphere. Heavy riffing and a few crazy surprises are included.

`Arabesque' is a remarkable instrumental piece with Middle Eastern influences. This is a very soundtrack-like song, with the orchestra leading the way and blending perfectly with the choir and huge percussion parts.

`Turn loose the mermaids' is an amazing and beautiful acoustic (Celtic influenced) ballad. In this inspirational song Anette really shines. The violin solo in the end is also astonishing!

`Rest calm' is a mid-tempo, very heavy and atmospheric song. Once again there is great orchestration, choir and...Marco! Anette sounds very good also. The heavy couplet/soft refrain structure works well. I got hooked to the ending as well!

`The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove' is another beautiful ballad (written mainly by Marco) with great melody and one of the most successful duets between Marco and Anette.

And now let's talk about `Last ride of the day'...Wow! This is Nightwish in 4:32 min! One word: Epic! This is one of my favourites so far. Huge choirs, orchestra, heavy guitars and an amazing and uplifting chorus (Gary Moore's `Over the hills and far away' style). Both singers excel in this one!

And after this excitement, there is the `big' song of the album: The 13:37 min epic called `Song of Myself' inspired by the poet Walt Whitman. What can I say? An epic, symphonic and heavy masterpiece! Massive orchestra and choirs blend with very heavy guitars and double bass drums. Anette sounds great and very confident in this one. The band overall sounds very tight in this great song. The song concludes with about 6 minutes of spoken words (a heartfelt poem written by Tuomas) from various actors I guess. Sweet piano and a poignant atmosphere...

The album closes with `Imaginaerum' which is purely an orchestral piece comprised of parts from all songs.

There is no doubt that Nightwish is one of the best bands of our time and in this new era of their history they managed to maintain the old quality and produce another masterpiece. Thank you Mr Holopainen (&co). You are truly one of a kind!

P.S. The double digipack edition includes the instrumental versions of all songs and a poster.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2011
Something dawned on me recently: Nightwish's "Dark Passion Play" is one of My. Favourite. Albums. Ever.

I never really thought about it, but I regularly play certain songs, often on repeat (particularly "The Poet And The Pendulum", possibly my favourite Nightwish song of all time), and of late, its rate of play has increased: the weeks leading up to "Imaginaerum"'s release, I have been playing it non-stop!


Great song-writing. Not that I dismiss Tarja-era Nightwish, but for me, Tuomos Holopainen wrote his best music to date on this particular album! First listen in 2007, I wasn't sure. The umteemph listen in 2011, I'm a dedicated follower!

To say I became mega excited for this new album is an understatement!

Lacuna Coil is very likely my favourite band of all time. But their new album, which is set for release in January, hasn't as yet got me excited. This did, in a way I haven't felt about a new release for years!

Was it worth it?

Well, first time I listened, I was enthralled, and entertained, but slightly overwhelmed.

"Storytime", already my favourite single of 2011, is sublime. I knew I was gonna love this album because of this song. I also expected "Dark Passion Play Pt. II". Well, I didn't get it.

But what I did get instead is an absolutely bonkers masterpiece! Right now, I am on my second full listen. So for this reason I cannot claim to completely love every moment of it, but I will say this: its going to be a grower.

"Dark Passion Play" took me four years to become such a big favourite, and for this reason, I welcome a new challenge. Songs like "Ghost River", "I Want My Tears Back" and "Scaretale" offer me just that! First listen, I felt these tracks were a bit too unhinged. After months of listening to pretty much nothing else but Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Eat World, I felt these were a little to much for me to take in!

So I played these tracks again separately. They grew on me. And I can pick out the bits I like, and can hear the other parts that I am sure will grow on me. "Scaretale" in particular. I was giggling the first time I heard it, but listening to the bonus disc Instrumental got me to sit up and pay attention: the music is fantastic!

The 13-minute "Song Of Myself" is that odd kinda song that I know I am going to end up loving completely. Its a novel idea, and the way the poetry is read aloud by various voices really makes me feel that a wonderful story is being read aloud! For some reason, it reminds me of the lengthy title track from The Doors 1969 classic "The Soft Parade".

"Arabesque" is an animatedly produced instrumental that I feel surpasses the previous albums attempt at middle-eastern sound textures, "Sahara". Its simply spellbinding!

"Slow, Love, Slow" is the much discussed, unexpected slow jazz number. It works because the atmosphere is sinister, whilst the songwriting is strong. Something about the way Annette Olzon sings these lyrics on this track sends shivers down my spine! A highlight.

Now I'm thinking about it, it is worth noting that her vocal performance on this album is stupendous! I grew to adore her voice on "Dark Passion Play", and can safely say I am in the minority: I prefer her voice to Sharon Den Adel's of Within Temptation. Aside from Anneke (The Gathering) and Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), she is without a doubt my favourite female singer in metal. Tarja, although a tremendous talent, somehow always leaves me cold (her wonderful vocals throughout "Century Child" and "Once" aside). I just love how Annete keeps the pace of the music afloat. Tarja combined with this songriting would have been simply too much. (Before I get bashed, I do really admire Tarja, her album "My Winter Storm" being one of the finest symphonic albums I have ever heard).

I want to comment here as well my admiration for Pip William's orchestration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (the title-track is an instrumental beauty!), the beefier bass/guitars, the avante garde melodic arrangements, the awesome energy of the whole entire sound...but I can't. Not yet anyway. There is so much to say, and I simply cannot put it all down in writing. One day, maybe soon, I will.

So, I will end this review by saying that this album, at this point in time, is growing on me with every listen, in part or as a whole. I will also say that if you aren't entirely sure this album is for you, try downloading (legally, of course!) "Last Ride Of The Day". I feel that this is the most representative song of the album. If you like this, then I reckon "Imaginaerum" will be right up your street!

Sooo...First listen, 5 stars. Second listen, 5 stars. Why? Its just so wonderfully, endearingly madcap! Any album that features lyrics dealing with Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Mary Costa gets full marks from me!*

Right now, "Dark Passion Play" is my top choice for a Nightwish album, with "Century Child" some way behind. I reckon, and a future edit may be needed to confirm this, that "Imaginaerum" will top both of these completely in my mind. Listening to "The Crow, The Owl and The Dove" right now firmly convinces me of this fact!


*Mary Costa was the singer/actress who supplied the voice for Briar Rose/Aurora/Sleeping Beauty in Disney's 1959 animated gem "Sleeping Beauty". Her name is quoted at the end of "I Want My Tears Back". Tuomos Holopainen is a self-confessed Disney geek, and this one particular reference makes me love this album so much more! Now you have an interesting piece of trivia!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2011
Now this is how an artist / composer overcomes the difficulties and evolves himself and the band from a gothic band (with operatic vocals) to a whole new existense... Nightwish have long said goodbye to Tarja's incredible operatic singing and with the new singer, they got a chance to evolve their sound as well...

And while one could hear the differencies (comparing to past albums) on "Dark Passion Play", noone could be prepared for this next one...

A Nightwish album with a jazzy ballad? A Nightwish album with a country-influenced song? A Nightwish album with an Arabic interlude right after a Carnival epic? A Nightwish album that is not even a regular album, as it is the soundtrack of a MOVIE that Nightwish shot for this album (to be release in 2012)? The music part of a greater concept they have crafted for their fans?

Now that is what we call shooting for the stars!

It takes a few listens to get into, especially since the "Nightwish" songs are spread in between all these other weird creations...

But if you give it more than a couple of listens you will be amazed, overwelmed by the creative genius of Tuomas Holopainen. The Nightwish spirit is here, the Symphonic parts have become a vital part of the songs, as have the choires and the singing of Marco Hietala (really, this man could easily be a lead singer to any band with huge success, what an impressive voice!).

And even though jazz, country, folk and carnival influences blend with Soundtrack arrangements, this one is really Nightwish to the core.

The most ambitious project of Nightwish so far, thankfully is backed with great music. This band has come a long way from the "Wishmaster" or "Century Child" days. And, while their fans were afraid that losing such a gift singer (as Tarja was) would bring a damage to the band hard to repair, it all comes to this:

When a talent of this caliber is left alone to create the miracles that wonder through his mind, the STUNNING end result is inevitable!

This is an album destined to make huge success and define the bands future for sure. Full of great songs, great melodies, great arrangements and such diversity, it will easily be one that will be mentioned in the future as a dicisive turn point.

To those who love melodic rock and metal, to those who want to hear rich, beautiful, diverse music, to those who know Nightwish from previous albums, this one is a buy-or-die album.

Don't hesitate for a moment, this is a shining diamond in the discography of a phenomenal band, an album that came to stay for ever in our musical experiences...
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2011
After the satisying epic that is Dark Passion play you could have forgiven Nightwish playing it a bit safe and rehashing old ideas into new form, and creating another solid but predictable follow up, but this, although retaining some of the Nightwish hallmarks the band have taken a chance of many numbers.

Here we have the band experimenting with jazz numbers, a bizare, bonkers theatrical almost West End piece (think of Phantom of the Opera on Acid and you're kind of there), a solid piece of Tribal drumming, a 6 minute spoken poem and a title track at the end, entirely orchestral picking up the main refrains and motifs of the previous songs.

First listen I must admit to staring at the speakers in bewilderment as the band, orchestra and choir gallop through some of the most bizarre things they have even done, I even laughed out loud at the most weird passages of Scartale, the West End piece. I checked I had the right CD in during Arabesque where the choir is literally drowned out by competing orchestra and some awesome Tribal Drums. My only complaint is this song doesnt go on LONG enough, it would have great for it to extend a little longer! I wasnt looking forward to the spoken poem bit I had heard about in Song of Myself, but it is handled beautifully, a myriad of voices and some soothing choir underpinned by a fantastic yearning guitar solo. The rest of the album is just as varied, I want my Tears Back starts off as a standard Nightwish song before launching headlong into an Irish style jig. It just sounds so odd, yet so right plum in the middle of a song that would normally have a heavy guitar solo. And that sums up the album really, everything that shouldn't work, just does, and everything you expect to be there, the standard Nightwish stock in trade songs, Last Ride of the Day, (the start of) Song of Myself, Story Time and Ghost River is there in all the usual Nightwish grandeur.

The artwork is also fantastic, but is superfluous, the colour, the real picture is painted through the music, that at times is maybe better than anything else they have done? Music is of course very personal thing, so its up to you to decide.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2011
There's not much I can add to what has already been said about this fantastic album. Each song beautifully sculptured from the genius mind of Tuomas Holopainen.

Nightwish have gone from strength to strength and for years I wondered how they could improve on the Dark Passion Play, but they have done it. The orchestra and the children's choir play their parts in each song so well to add to the metal and singing of Annette. Best examples of this would be found in Rest Calm and the orchestrated album titled song Imaginaerum. The album plays to be the soundtrack to the film which is released in 2012 directed by...yes the genius Tuomas Holopainen.

I believe to experience this album at it's full potential get the 2 disc set with the instrumental cd. It really makes you appreciate the fantastic music that is on offer. Nowadays music is produced by computers such as the sound effects and the lyrics written by paid lyricists. Nightwish don't need any of this, they have the talent, and they have their own style.

5 stars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2012
This is not ordinary Nightwish for sure. But I think it has never intended to be. Truely some songs are quite supprising. At first listening they might sound bizzare. I was thinking the same first time when I was listening to it. After several times however, the album became different. I started finding quite something in each and every song. I listened to it more and more and it became better and better. Now I can say it is really a masterpiece, different, but still a masterpiece. So my suggestion, give it a chance, listen to it several times and you won't regret.
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