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Wow. I must admit I approached this album with some hesitation and apprehension. I was a fan of Tarja Turunens vocals, as I felt they worked, and I thought that a new singer would completely change the sound of the band.
How right I was, the sound is different, but not in the way I thought it was going to be! Dark Passion Play is a fantastic album from a band that must have been most worried about the reaction they were going to get from some of their more die-hard fans. Not only does Anette Olzon adequately fill the shoes of the great Ms Turunen, she seems to lead the band on a journey that progresses from good to better!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing what Tarja did for the band, as I think she got them to a great place, and the album "Once" is an incredible album that always manages to bring delight to me as I listen to it. I just think that now Nightwish have a fantastic opportunity to move themselves onwards and upwards, and this album certainly does that!
DARK: While Nightwish have previously produced darker, heavier material, I feel that with Olzon's vocals taking on a more "metal" feel (as opposed to Turunens operatic soprano) this adds to the overall heavy feel of the album. Songs such as the fantastic 14-minute epic starting track "The Poet and the Pendulum" are fairly dark, firstly in the sense that they are a chaotic ride, going from heavy and fast, to slow and relaxed with violins playing mournfully behind. Secondly, with lyrics such as "”I'm afraid. I'm so afraid. Being raped again, and again, and again. I know I will die alone. But loved." lead the listener to shiver. This is Nightwish growing up and turning more metal!
PASSIONATE: Something that Tarja Turunen brought to the band was a sense of passion. Passion for the music, passion for what she was singing about and of course, a few of their songs are almsot passionate love ballads! Anette Olzon continues in this theme, with anthems such as "Eva" and "For the Heart I Once Had" bringing the softer side of Nightwish back into play. These songs truly complement the rest of the album, making it a diverse and interesting album.
PLAYFUL: Throughout the whole album, you really get the feeling that they are having fun making it. The only instrumental on the album, Last of the Wilds" proves Nightwishes musical ability, as well as their enjoyment of making music. It is a fantastic pseudo-folk metal track, with a gaelic/Braveheart feel to the whole thing. The first time I heard it, I just had to re-listen to it over and over again, not knowing whether to head bang or get up and do the highland fling!
In conclusion, Nightwish have returned with a powerful new sound, and I expect more great things from them in the future! I know they aren't officially a progressive metal band, but they have certainly progressed from a good place (with "Once", their best album before this one) and moved to a fantastic new place.