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!