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Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful


Last Updated on 09:59 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Finland
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year: 2015

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is without a doubt one of the most anticipated metal albums of the year. Fans and critics have a lot of reasons to eagerly await what Nightwish will deliver after their sloppier years with Anette Olzon behind the microphone. Will they be able to reinvent themselves and put their music back on the top of the symphonic metal genre? So I decided to take my time to let this album sink in before I wrote down my thoughts. In the end I am both enthusiastic and still kind of disappointed. Let me start optimistically. Nightwish shifted back to a more symphonic metal style and has reduced the amount of pop-like melodies that seemed fitting for Anette’s vocal style. However – and now comes the disappointing part – some of the riffs and melodies feel recycled from older work, while most Nightwish members are not used to their full potential.

Musically, fans need not worry. The sound of Nightwish has improved compared to their latest albums. The power metal influences from older work have been turned down a notch, but the complexity of Nightwish’ music rises with all the cinematic influences and we certainly get treated with more bombast than on the latest albums. On several moments you clearly hear Tuomas’ ever-growing love for soundtracks. While he could indulge in this passion through the score of the movie Imaginaerum and the ‘Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge’, it slips through on this record as well. A slight concern here, though, is the fact that some riffs and melodies feel recycled. On several occasions I had the feeling I was listening to parts of ‘Dark Chest of Wonders’ or ‘Whoever Brings The Night’…

Vocally, the first single Élan and several other songs on EFMB  do confirm a fear I was having. Let me start with an obvious fact: Nightwish has a new singer! Exit Anette and welcome Floor Jansen. A vocalist who has earned her stripes in symphonic metal through her work with After Forever and ReVamp. If that does not create high hopes for all fans rooting to see a return of the older Nightwish… Throughout the album Floor displays both her operatic capabilities as well as a more pop-like voice. I would not have been sorry if Nightwish shifted back to a complete full out symphonic style, but I can understand that Tuomas’ style and preferences have evolved over the years. BUT, this should not mean that an amazing singer as Floor should be restrained! Floor delivers some nice vocal lines and the rare occasional outburst, but overall I get the feeling she is holding back. Or maybe I should say she is being held back, because we all know Tuomas is calling the shots in Nightwish. Some songs feel like they could have been written for Anette… And here we have this album’s biggest disappointment: Nightwish has the best vocalist they had in over a decade but she is not unleashed. Another example of how the musicians are kept in line by Tuomas is the fact that Kai Hahto is sitting behind the drum kit as a replacement of Jukka Nevalainen. Nightwish’ original drummer is currently seeking treatment for his insomnia problems. Still, you do not really hear a difference in drumming style, while if you know Hahto’s work with Wintersun you realize he is capable of quite some other tricks than what is being showcased here. A final remark concerning the vocals on this album is that I am personally really missing the contribution of Marco Hietala’s rawer voice. He appeared maybe two times throughout the album but certainly did not shine. With someone like Floor at his side surely duets in the vein of ‘Dead To World’ must be possible?

Overall, Nightwish makes a return to their older, more epic style of symphonic metal, spiced with new influences Tuomas Holopainen picked up over the years: the inspiration and experience from cinematic scores he composed and a tendency to allow that pop-like sound to return occasionally. The biggest problem with the album is that the other members are not given a chance to shine. We hear a folkier touch here and there by the addition of Troy Donckeley, although this is not used to its full potential at all. I feel Floor Jansen did not have the chance yet to go ‘all the way’. If you have seen her live performance of ‘Ghost Love Score’ at Wacken 2013, you know what I am talking about. However, the ingredients are all here and certainly Nightwish seems to have some stability for the moment to grow with this line-up. As long as Tuomas allows it.

Score 4/6 – It’s still Nightwish…

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