Review Summary: "We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born."
Nightwish have had it rough over the past decade. From the constant lineup changes to the colder reception of Imaginareum
and Dark Passion Play
, the band’s studio output has felt very lackluster for the most part. The mesh of folk music and symphonic metal has slowly become more and more stale, and there’s generally been a lack of interest and intrigue. So, with the introductions of new vocalist Floor Jansen and instrumentalist Troy Donockley, it seems as though Nightwish could go either way with their newest outing. Despite all the initial skepticism surrounding what the end product would hold, Endless Forms Most Beautiful
is, surprisingly, a substantial step up from the band’s previous two albums, and may just be what Nightwish needs to bolster their status as one of Europe’s more prominent symphonic metal bands.
Opening track “Shudder Before the Beautiful” sets up the album perfectly, with a spoken word intro by Richard Dawkins followed up by intense guitars, robust orchestral music, and strong vocals. “Weak Fantasy” and “Élan” are more folk-influenced, throwing in some soothing pipes, mellow whistles, and even a brief bouzouki break halfway through the former track. Jansen’s vocals are especially worth mentioning, because they nail the sweet spot between both the more operatic tones and poppier styles of previous vocalists. Tuomas Holopainen’s keyboard and piano additions blend in perfectly with the aggressive, vigorous guitars and the trumpeting (no pun intended) symphonies.
Unfortunately, the band still occasionally ends up falling flat. The main problem here is that there are times when Nightwish seem to feel a little too
comfortable with doing more of the same, resulting in some stagnation all around. Additionally, the death growls on “Yours Is An Empty Hope” can come off as awkward and even unintentionally hilarious. Despite this, the album manages to hit its peak with the mammoth closing track “The Greatest Show On Earth”. Split into five separate pieces, the song sees Nightwish transitioning between melodic piano sections, bombastic orchestral harmonies, adrenaline-pumping guitar riffs, more Dawkins monologues, and random animal noises.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
is primarily more of the same, but it would be unfair to say that’s a negative. Ultimately, Nightwish have managed to create a consistent album that doesn’t end up sounding tired or uneventful. While Endless Forms Most Beautiful
is still a far cry from the band’s more acclaimed works such as Oceanborn
, it seems as though this is just what Nightwish needed to get back on track in the studio. It may not be The Greatest Show On Earth, but it’s still a damn good time nonetheless.