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I have been a big Nightwish fan for quite a while now. I have loved all their albums including "Once" which was hated by many people. Going into this album, lets just say I wasn't disappointed, as I knew the vocalist wouldn't be as good as Tarja. I was disappointed that she got fired from the band, but I knew not to expect much from the album, which is why I was a bit surprised when I listened to it out of curiosity, and found some parts which I actually liked. I'll get to that later.
First, I have to get the vocals out of the way. Anette, while very good looking doesn't have the best vocals, especially compared to her predecessor Tarja. She is in tune and her voice is generally pleasant, but Anette just doesn't have the emotion or power that Tarja had. It seems whenever she sings alone, the music becomes very light, but when the music becomes more symphonic, lots of effects are put into her voice, and Marco's vocals are added as well, so much that you can barely hear Anette anymore. The vocals can also be rather annoying sometimes, most notably for me in "Amaranth", as the song starts off with a very nice melody and power and gets watered to a choppy and shitty guitar riff when Anette comes in. In addition, I find her vocals way too happy when she sings verses like this:
"War between him and the day
Need someone to blame
In the end, little he can do alone"
That said, there are a few moments, and I mean few, when I actually like Anette's vocals, and that is mainly in "Poet and the Pendulum" which is by far the best song on this album. I still think the song would be better with Tarja, but whatever. I like her vocals in Part 1 of the song, when at first she whispers, and later has that soft but high-pitched cry. Sounds very sad but peaceful at the same time.
Now getting to the music, as I said "Poet and the Pendulum" is the best song here. It is very long, it is also very varied, it has its soft and mellow sections, it has its more aggressive and symphonic/operatic sections, and it has sections that are in between. The song also has a little bit of an almost folkish influence at times, with the gentle piano mixing with flute and violin at times. The lyrics in this song are pretty good too, except this verse, which I found very strange...
”I'm afraid. I'm so afraid.
Being raped again, and again, and again.
I know I will die alone.
Some other decent songs are "Cadence of Her Last Breath" which has an almost creepy feeling, because the song is rather heavy, but it has high-pitched keyboards at times. I also don't mind Anette's vocals too much here, as she sings in a high-pitched voice, and this mixes well with the song, and she sounds better singing in a higher pitch.
"Master Passion Greed" is another nice song, with a very heavy beginning, I don't know if I've ever heard Nightwish sound heavier. Also, Marco sings in this song, and I actually like his vocals, which was a nice break from Anette and added a little variety. The song also has a very powerful operatic ending, with some pretty nice mysterious and borderline creepy melodies.
"Eva" is mostly a boring waste that doesn't do anything to show of Anette's vocals, but I like the song a bit more towards the end when it builds up and we even get a little guitar solo.
So to basically sum up the album, the music is pretty much the same, with more of an operatic/folkish influence at times, and shitty borderline slam your iPod against a wall annoying vocals. Is it a bad album? No. But do the vocals affect the quality of music? Hell yea, and not in a good way.