This is an album that really surprised me. I thought they were going to go down in history as the gothic metal band that crashed and burned because of their festering inner turmoils and the subsequent trade-off for a less talented vocalist, but they somehow manage to pull everything together in the end.
Musically, it's still Nightwish, albeit a purely symphonic incarnation now. The songs are erratically crafted, given that this album is more of a buffet of musical styles more than anything- from the rock based symphonic stomp of Amaranth to the gospel(!) choir in Meadows of Heaven to the almost Damage Inc. thrash of Master Passion Greed, one could even go as far as to say that there's literally something for everyone on the album. The barely initiated newbie female metal heads not yet out of their MCR shells will dig Eva and The Heart I Once Had, while more hardened metalheads will nod in approval at The Poet and the Pendulum's immense movie soundtrack styled beast and the technicality of the often neglected guitars on Whoever Brings the Night. Fans of non metal will be surprised also, as the Islander and The Last of the Wilds brings to the table a quaint and very strong folk influence hearkening back to classics such as Moondance or Walking in the Air. The rather prominent eastern influence in Sahara will inevitably get many heads bobbing, and the Cadence of Her Last Breath....well....it's the mandatory filler track along with Eva, but given the overall quality of the album, it's easily forgo able.
However, given that Nightwish is almost a completely vocal driven band, it's interesting to see that Tuomas has taken the liberty of making the music take 50 percent of the melodic duties, while leaving Annette to wail around in the background. It's as if he actually knows she is not fit for the band, so he writes better songs in order to make up for the weak vocals. It would be sort of harsh to say that she's a terrible singer, but she simply lacks the power required to front a symphonic metal band. You at least have to possess a Simone Simons level of singing if you want to shine through the sometimes overbearing instruments, which unfortunately is more than I can say for Annette. She has a sweet and warm voice, strangely bringing to mind a female version of Timo Kotipelto, but it relies too much on the utilization of nasality to reach the acrobatic high notes that Tarja would have been able to hit with a small efficient breath of air from her trained diaphragm. Annette sounds strained throughout most of the songs, struggling to keep up with the immense power of the instruments while trying not get her voice to crack. Her effort is commendable, but unless she gets some vocal training fast, she will wear herself out and decrease the quality of future Nightwish albums. The poppish singing is to the band's detriment, an unfitting contrast to their majestic sound. Like I said before, if she doesn't get classical training fast, Nightwish's next album will be a mess.
Aside from the puzzling fact that Mr.Holopainen picked Annette of all people out of hundreds of potenial singers, this album is definitely the maturation of the sound they were striving or on Once. Nightwish have proven once again that you can indeed straddle the line between mainstream appeal and underground intergrity in making good music. This album is highly recommended for any fan of music in general.
Overall the albums pretty good, but they incorporate too much, I mean the middle eastern influences are completely out of place for Nightwish, as well as the Irish folk in The Islander. There's also some mediocre tracks on here, but then again, Poet And The Pendulum might just be their best song. Overall it's relatively solid, but is still destroyed by Once and Oceanborn
This album was a grower, it succeeds in what it attempts and a bit more. I'll actually have to give it a few more spins, been a long time since I listened to this album. Also, Cadence of Her Last Breath is not a filler If anything, Whoever Brings the Night is. That's my least favorite, but even that one is good
I agree with Ayashi about Cadence of Her Last Breath and Whoever Brings the Night. I never understood why people singled that track out. Also, Anette is wonderful and Marco getting to sing more is just another reason I prefer her to Tarja.
Great review for a great album. I disagree about the vocals, they take the front well enough. I never used to like Cadence Of Her Last Breath, but I'd say that its a fantastic track. The intro to Whoever Brings The Night is pretty damn cool, but I can go without the rest of the song.
Actually, you're dead wrong because Nightwish slays.
You obviously don't appreciate substance in music, and your statement is typical of 16 year-olds who have just got into metal and think they're brutal and different because they listen to Children Of Bodom.