Friday, December 2, 2011

Nightwish - Imaginaerum (2011)

Finally, the moment you have all been waiting for. The symphonic gothic metal band Nightwish is back with a brand new album, entitled “Imaginaerum.” Following their most recent album, “Dark Passion Play,” many fans were curious as to where the band was going to go from there. Judging by the melodies and different instruments used in this new album, I would say that this is the perfect follow up. You are still getting the well known Nightwish sounds, only I feel like lead singer Anette Olzen has found her comfort zone as you will see that her performance is perfect. It just seems like she stepped up to a whole other level and sounds so much more clear and natural. Perhaps it’s because we are now used to a different female vocalist other than their ex-singer, Tarja. Regardless, Ozlen and male vocalist Marco Hietala sound incredible as a team as you will hear their voices clash together multiple times throughout the album. Also their keyboardist and songwriter, Tuomas Holopainen, has done an extraordinary job with the structure of each song and melodies they contain.

The album starts with “Taikatalvi” which has what sounds like a music box that is being cranked up and plays soft synth melodies. The entire song is sung in Finnish by Hietala. After this two and a half minute intro comes the song “Storytime.” This is the first single that the band released. It slowly builds with many different strings and guitars that play the same melody as the drums explode in the background. The guitars come through and destroy the verse with blaring distorted riffs. The chorus is definitely one of the catchiest melodies on the album and Olzen sings the lyrics in a clear manor. The upbeat tempo will make you wanting to clap and dance to the drums and uplifting riffs. Definitely get ready to move when this track is blasting away.

Heavily distorted guitar riffs blast through the beginning as they bounce off the walls with reverb effects. They’re quickly joined by booming drums and exciting orchestrated strings. The instruments calm down for a few seconds as the first verse enters. It begins with a simple kick and snare pattern as Olzen’s beautiful vocals take over. Quiet strings spring in and out in the background. You’re eventually met with violent shouting vocals from Hietala. The strings become more aggressive here as the song builds to the chorus. This refrain contains heavy chugging guitars that scream out behind the sharp cymbals and popping snares. Hietala takes control with aggressive vocals as Olzen quietly hums the melody in the background. The guitar work that follows is absolutely stunning leaving wanting more.

Nightwish has added an interesting tone to their sound in ““Slow, Love, Slow.” It contains a real blues like bass line with Jazz piano riffs in the background. Olzen keeps her voice at a low pitch through most of the song and delivers amagnificent performance. It isn’t until the end when she starts to reach out to higher octaves. Also, in the last minute of the song you are introduces to a phenomenal trumpet solo performed by guest musician, Guy Barker. This jazzy ballad keeps the album very unique. “I Want My Tears Back” starts out with catchy melodies from the Uilleann Pipes which you might recognize from the instrumental “Last Of The Wilds,” which was track 11 on Dark Passion Play. This gives off somewhat of a folk like sound and will definitely make you want to get up and dance. Pay attention to the drum fills during this time. There’s a couple of interesting drum rolls that you won’t want to miss.

The album starts to sound haunted as “Scaretale” opens up with eerie strings and kids voices sing “Ring Around The Rosie” in the background. Heavier strings and orchestrated instruments build around this as female chanting vocals fill the air. You’re also met with high speed double bass pedaling that will really get your blood pumping. Olzen comes in with the verses and has a much more aggressive tone to her voice. She is soon joined by fast chugging guitars as more strings fade in and out constantly. The whole song draws a picture of a dark carnival as the middle of the song has a male voice acting as if he is a host that is introducing an act. The music surrounding this builds an incredibly detailed picture of a creepy carnival with eerie yet jolly melodies in the background. This is definitely one of the most creative songs on the album. It’s dark and mysterious and yet epic at the same time. The album continues with “Arabesque” which is a three minute instrumental that has some amazing drumming along with lots of unique instruments around them that build up and layer on top of each other frequently. A lot goes on in this short track so make sure you use that repeat button a couple of times to catch all the action.

“Turn Loose The Mermaids” is a gorgeous ballad that has similar features to the song “The Islander” from their Dark Passion Play which includes a couple of different flute instruments that float softly in the background as Olzen shows of her amazing voice. She is later accompanied by soft piano notes which guide her vocals throughout the rest of the song. This fades right into “Rest Calm” which is a seven minute masterpiece that’s starts with glimmering piano riffs and blaring guitars. The verse contains with aggressive guitar chugging that will have you bobbing your head immediately. Hietala takes over with high pitch vocals. He is soon joinged by Olzen’s vocals which also start out in a fairly high octave as she helps build up the chorus along with the strings. The chorus actually drops with a lower set of vocals from Olzen as the only instruments that follows her are soothing strings, basic drums beats and some soft acoustic riffs. The vocal melody is extremely catchy and will definitely have you singing along as soon as you hear it. The song ends with a minute of the refrain repeated over and over as powerful horns consume the background with epic melodies. Both Hietala and Olzen layer their vocals on top of each other adding an angelic sound to the mix. You will even hear some flutes and a light guitar solo that also lays gently in the background. This is such a fantastic song. Make sure you check this one out.

The two vocals continue to sing together in “The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove.” Olzen takes over in the verse and sings with gorgeous mellow tones. Hietala adds his part during the refrains and the bridge which is toward the middle of the song. The way they keep switching back and fourth between singers really keeps you at the edge of your seat. “Last Rides Of The Day” goes right back to the bands original sound of high symphonic strings mixed with chanting vocals and echoing guitar riffs. It breaks into a fast tempo instruments throughout the song. The snares are relentless as they beat you down constantly during the refrain. Olzen shows so much energy and excitement and really pulls you into the music. Later you are met with a wicked guitar solo that throws rapid high and low notes at you from every direction. You’re definitely going to be pumping your fists for this one.

This is followed by another mind blowing track, entitled “Song Of Myself.” This carries a lot of similar elements, like the epic strings and violent snares with crashing cymbals that echo off into the background. The instrumental parts sound like they could be part of a score to a movie. The strings are constantly jumping higher and higher as they try to keep up with Olzen's powerful vocals. There are some awesome break downs in the middle of the song that contain tons of fast chugging guitar riffs yet continue to keep the orchestrated string flying high. This keeps things gothic yet electrifying at the same time. The song runs for a little over 13 minutes long and manages to keep the melodies fresh and unique throughout the entire track. It also breaks down into a story in the second half which is narrated by couple of different voices that come in and out while the strings and guitar melodies continue to play through. “Imaginaerum” closes out as the final track which is a beautiful instrumental that plays for about six minutes long. It takes clips of songs throughout the album and mashes them together basically summing up everything that you just heard only without vocals. But with all the detailed instruments, they practically fill in as voices that speak to you through melody. I could listen to the outro all day long.

Nightwish has made it clear at which direction they are heading with “Imaginaerum.” There are so many similar qualities that Dark Passion Play contained, only they have gone above and beyond what they have ever done before. The vocal performance is spectacular as many different styles of vocals were displayed throughout the album. Also, the song writing is excellent as well as the constant change in instruments. It definitely kept the album refreshing the entire time. This album is clearly going to go down as one of their best albums of all time. There is no doubt, you will love this album from beginning to end. I’m sure you will be using that repeat button as much as I am.


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