Sunday, April 5, 2015

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015)

After a couple of turbulent years with Anette Olzen as the front woman, Nightwish has moved on to a new singer, and the woman who gets to carry on the relay stick from Anette and Tarja Turunen is the Dutch singer Floor Jansen, most known for her work in After Forever and ReVamp. It was a choice that immediately made me convinced that Nightwish had found the right piece of the puzzle. Floor is an amazing singer that is tougher than Anette and can handle a broad range of vocals. The only thing left now was to see in what direction the band was going to take their music for their 8th full length effort, entitled "Endless Forms Most Beautiful".

The answer is that the band is continuing on the same track on which the 2011 album "Imaginaerum". The music is grand, epic, and just reeks of fantasy, but this time, the band has kicked up the gear in the heavy scale, and I think that Floor is one of the reasons why they did that. It is not that "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" is drastically harder than any other Nightwish record, but it is obvious that Holopainen and Hietala has adapted after the vocalist change, which is impressive. The classic Nightwish vibe is still there though, most present in the first single "Élan", and it is as good as ever, but the added heaviness definitely gives this album its own personality and helps spicing up the music.

And it really is those heavy songs that is the stars of this grand spectacle. The epic orchestral opening to "Weak Fantasy" builds up to a hard hitting and catchy song that should be a future fan favourite in the set list when the band hits the road, which I also hope "Yours Is An Empty Hope" will be since it has one of the coolest and grooviest riffs the band has ever performed, and the rest of the song is a great epic experience. Among the hard songs can we also find the opener, "Shudder Before The Beautiful", a fast steam roller with a classic Nightwish sound.

But there are more to this album besides the heavy songs, even if most of those songs are rather disappointing. The single "Élan" is a fine song that is exactly what you would expect from this band, but it is more or less a copy of the more excellent track "Amaranth" from "Dark Passion Play". If you want a good fantasy track from this album, I would rather suggest "My Walden" whom impresses with its steady beat and beautiful harmonies. I also do enjoy the title track, mostly because it is incredibly catchy, and not in the annoying "gum-under-my-shoe" way. Finally, listen to "Edema Ruh", a beautiful tune that really displays how broad Floor's vocals really are.

The album ends in a way that is a lot like the album cover, mind blowing insanity. "The Greatest Show On Earth" is a 5 part song that takes up 24 minute of space, almost 1/3 of the entire album, making it the biggest Nightwish creation up to date. It is a song that more or less tells the story of the Earth's birth, life, and all of its inhabitants, which I think is a pretty cool concept, but putting it all in into such a huge song might have been a mistake for the band. It takes a special kind of skill to create a song like this and excel with it, and it is something that might take several attempts to really master (just ask Dream Theater). I am not saying that "The Greatest Show On Earth" is a bad song, it does have several awesome parts and it displays the whole range of the band, but since it is so big, it is very hard to take it all in. It is a pretty good first try for the band and I will not mind if they try to create more mastodon songs in the future, but they really have to make sure that those tracks stand out and keep it cohesive so that it does not feel so outspread.

The first album of the Floor Jansen era is according to me a success. "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" may be a complete cluster fuck in the cover, but behind it lies a grand and epic album that crushes most of the opposition. This album stands tall and definitely deserves its rightful place in the Nightwish discography. It may not be the Finns finest album, but it holds an incredibly high standard and I am sure the fans will love it. This is certainly no weak fantasy, this is a epic that is worthy of being told and listen to for the coming decades.

Songs worthy of recognition: Weak Fantasy, Shudder Before The Beautiful, Yours Is An Empty Hope, Edema Ruh

Rating: 8,5/10 Alpenglows

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