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In listening to this album, there are many things that hit me. The first, and probably most obvious, is the absence of the operatic edge that Tarja brought to the band, that sheer vocal power that would hit you hard and send you flying into another dimension. Contrariwise, this album lacks so much vocal power that listeners can hardly feel a gentle touch. Vocals aside, the second thing that hit me was that the album does not create an absolute 'feel' or 'atmosphere'. You can spend countless hours attempting to define the mood created, but you probably will never get there. So why is this? In layman's terms, it's because each song is completely different to the one that preceded it.
In previous Nightwish albums, every song lacked variation from the others. For some people, this can be a good thing, knowing that the songs on this album are all exactly the way you like them. For others, it can be very monotonous, knowing that once you listen to the first song, you've listened to all of them. This lack of variation all took root in Tarja's vocals. As powerful a singer she was, she demonstrated poor ability to alter her voice. But now we have Anette, who old Nightwish are not taking likely to, because of the absence of power and operatic edge. Despite this, she has proven to be an excellent singer, if not better. She has demonstrated not only her ability to handle the power of former Nightwish songs, but also her ability to adjust her voice to project a certain emotion to the audience.
Following up to the album's release, listeners were very confused as to what to expect in the album. The first single, 'Eva', led listeners to believe that the album would be absent of any power at all. This all changed upon the leakage of 'The Poet And The Pendulum' to P2P sites. I remember listening to 'The Poet And The Pendulum' for the first time, feeling I had just returned from the most epic journey I would ever experience. 'The Poet And The Pendulum' proved to be an excellent combination of a powerful orchestra and Tuomas' ever-brilliant songwriting, and even to this day, remains seated as my all-time favourite Nightwish song.
Returning to the variation of the album, the best way to describe the album is like a rollercoaster. In reference to the title of this review, listeners are taken to both sides of the emotional spectrum, from the pure anger in 'Master Passion Greed' to the deep-seated innocence of 'Eva', to the uplifting 'Amaranth'.
The guitar work on this album has taken on a lot of variation as well. For the first time, Emppu has been given enough space to write his own song for the album, 'Whoever Brings The Night'. It should be needless to say that this has proven to be a 'Guitarist' song, placing heavy emphasis on Emppu's creative riffage, a very welcome change from previous albums. The album has also taken the acoustic guitar on board, with the albums fifth single, 'The Islander'. It is no wonder the song has quickly become a favourite on Nightwish's live tours, giving the concert a very abrupt mood change.
Another element that makes the album very special is the influence incorporated from elsewhere. Perfect examples of this include the Irish / Finnish inspiration of 'Last of the Wilds' and the folk culture of 'The Islander'. Other lesser examples of this include 'The Poet and the Pendulum' and its astonishing similarity to a film score, and the Egyptian feel of 'Sahara'. So it can be said that the key word here is 'experimentation'.
To summarise, it is simply impossible to dislike the entire album. It is not uncommon to dislike one or two songs on the album, but there certainly will be at least one or two songs that really appeal to you. In my opinion, it was good idea for the band to experiment on this album, as it will give a better indication as to which musical direction they want to travel in with Anette as the new vocalist. So feel free to think what you want about the album, but each song is definitely worth a listen.