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Like Marmite - either you love it or hate it!,
This review is from: Imaginaerum (MP3 Download)
This album is perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated, long-waited for, albums of recent times, so it is perhaps no surprise that it has received (and will continue to receive) a lot of scrutiny.
I love Nightwish. I have all their albums. I followed them through their latter days with Tarja and watched with interest as the last album featuring Anette was released. I can still listen to their early albums such as "Wishmaster" and "Oceanborn" without getting bored or tiresome. However, there is little doubt, particularly following the entrance of their new singer and her debut Nightwish venture ("Dark Passion Play"), that Nightwish are a different band to what they were. That is why you can't listen to "Imaginaerum" and expect it to be anything like early Nightwish releases, and perhaps the only similarity this album bears to the album that arguably brought Nightwish into the mainstream ("Once") is the fact that Tuomas & Co utilise the London Philharmonic Orchestra and choir known as Metro Voices to create an authentic symphonic sound.
When I heard Nightwish were doing a new album, which was earlier this year, I was (like most other Nightwish fans) extremely excited to say the least! I kept checking the website to see if it had been released, until I finally got word that it would be released in December 2011. Let me start by saying that I am very very impressed with this album! The problem is; I don't think every Nightwish fan will share the same view. The simplest reason for that is that this album is unique as far as Nightwish are concerned. Tuomas appears to have really branched out and gone wild with his songwriting and production. You might either view that as a good or bad thing, but my personal view is that, as risky as it was, he has pulled it off tremendously and revealed more than ever before how much of a talent he truly is in the realm of music!
This album has musical stylings ranging from swing to hardcore symphonic metal and everything in between. It's a daring effort, but one I feel which has paid off amazingly.
What sticks out on this album for me is the sheer brilliance of each song. As just one example, I have never been into Jazz or blues, but the fourth track ("Slow, Love, Slow") uses a lot of those musical stylings, yet retains a heavy metal, and sinister, edge to keep it "Nightwishy", and I can honestly say that I like it as much as the rest of the fantastic songs on the album.
As other reviewers have pointed out, you should not listen to the songs on this album in isolation. The reason for that is it seems, from listening to it, that the album is meant to just flow from one song to the next until it culminates in the fantastic Outro "Imaginaerum", which features small parts from each song on the album in all its symphonic glory. It serves almost as a final word to say "Listen to this album over again".
One final thing I want to say on my review is that you must splash out and purchase the 2 CD pack (or download it), which has the instrumental versions of each song on. The reason I say that is because it makes you appreciate the musical quality of each track and the song writing ability and creativity of Tuomas Halopainen. Plus it's actually quite good to sit down and relax to (never thought I'd say that about heavy metal music!)
This album is sheer brilliance, and (whatever you think of Tarja's departure) Anette really shines on this album and the music fits her voice so well. Furthermore, Marco provides some great vocal input and Tuomas really reveals his musical genius. Perhaps a lot of people will find it too unique and far detached from the old-school Nightwish, but I would advise anyone, whether you are an avid Nightwish fan or a Nightwish newby, to appreciate the unique song writing ability and production value of this masterpiece. When you can do that, you will see that, as different as it is to conventional metal albums, even those formerly done by Nightwish, it is one of the greatest musical masterpieces of modern times. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe this is the best Nightwish release so far. May this band continue long into the future!