Review Summary: Nightwish is back with a bang!
After Tarja Turunen's dismissal from Nightwish back in 2004, the band had a lot to prove with new lead singer Anette Olzon. And the group did not disappoint, as they're first album with Olzon, "Dark Passion Play," became one of Nightwish's biggest success'. But it's been about four years since the band released the album, and now Nightwish may have even more to prove, seeing how "Imaginaerum" is only the second record with Anette Olzon.
The album kicks off with the short, but sweet, "Taikatalvi" (Finnish for "Magic Winter"). While the song is very mellow and enjoyable, I feel it was a mistake having Finnish lyrics. Being a Finn this doesn't bother me, but seeing how many fans Nightwish has all around the world, I don't think it was very smart having Finnish lyrics. "Taikatalvi" segues right into the album's first single "Storytime." Most people have probably already heard this song, but it is, without a doubt, one of the album's catchiest songs. The song is made for radio, but doesn't loose that signature Nightwish sound. The lyrics are also very clever, especially during the chorus.
Next up is "Ghost River," which has it's moments, but ultimately, is a disappointment. The song starts off well enough, but as we go along most people will probably be turned off by the near screaming vocals from bassist Marco Hietala. They seem very out of place compared to rest of the album, and really hurt the song itself. People looking for something a bit heavier may enjoy the song, but most people will probably skip this one. "Ghost River" is followed by "Slow, Love, Slow," which is probably the album's biggest surprise. A jazzy number, that is definitely one of the album's highlights. The song is carried by Anette Olzon's great vocals, Tuomas Holopainen's fantastic piano playing and the huge orchestral pieces conducted by Pip Williams.
"I Want My Tears Back" is next, and could very well be a potential single. The use bagpipes is brilliant, providing great hooks and bringing to mind other acts like the Dropkick Murphys
, and albums such as Gary Moore
's "Wild Frontier." Another very catchy number. "Scaretale" is up next and, just like "Ghost River," has it's moments, but ultimately is a disappointment. The song's mix of orchestras, choirs and double bass drumming is very epic, but as the vocals kick in, the song starts going down, fast. Olzon's squeaky vocal delivery is very unnecessary and starts to get on the listeners nerves quite quickly. But like I said, the song does have it's moments, but they only remind the listener how good the song could have been.
After the quite pointless instrumental "Arabesque," we get "Turn Loose the Mermaids," another big highlight. The song is a mellow ballad, with Celtic influences and a spaghetti western inspired section thrown in. This might seem a bit odd at first, but all these different styles work quite well in the song, and provide great hooks. The album continues with "Rest Calm," which at first sounds very similar to bands like HIM
, with it's mix of piano and distorted guitars. The song is another heavy number, but this one works much better that "Ghost River" or "Scaretale." The song mixes great acoustic parts with equally great distorted portions, to make a very enjoyable song.
Next up is "The Crow, The Owl and the Dove," another great ballad. The song is quite basic, but that doesn't subtract from the listening experience. "The Crow, The Owl and the Dove" is followed by "The Last Ride of the Day," which, while a good song, seems to be the only real instance of filler on the album. It just seems that the album would do just as fine with or without the song.
Next is the album's longest track, "Song of Myself" clocking in at thirteen minutes and thirty-eight seconds. The song is another highlight, with about fifty percent of the song being orchestra music underneath people reciting a poem inspired by Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." It might sound strange at first, but really, it is very emotional and beautiful.
The album ends with an orchestral medley of all the previous songs, but overall the album is great. It can be very bombastic but very mellow at the same time. Many of the song can also be quite catchy yet musically amazing at the same time. Highly recommended.
*"I Want My Tears Back"
*"Turn Loose the Mermaids"
*"Song of Myself"