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Nightwish, I will be honest, was never a band on my radar at all. That is until they dropped Tarja. Nothing against her as a musician, I just couldn't stand her voice (kind of like Matt Heafy of Trivium before they changed to thrash,) singing and the opera feel for it all. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Now enter Anette Olxon, a virtual unknown who brings a definite change of pace to this group. Virtually changing their identity from that of a symphonic power metal group to gothic metal yet still retaining some of the qualities prior to.
Usually the longest song on the album is found at the end of the album, but with Dark Passion Play, the almost fourteen minute opus entitled "The Poet and the Pendulum," start off the new era for Nightwish. With it's haunting melody over symphonic and gothic atmospheric sounds which end around a minute and a half in and kick into the juicy part of the song, the album is off and running. Alot can be said about the song itself, as it changes so many directions, incorporates so many instruments and even reciting poetry over the music as well, almost reminding me atleast of something I would hear in a movie such as "The Chronicles of Narnia." Normally one gets tired after around seven or eight minutes of a long song (ala Tool or Type O Negative) but this song keeps you captivated. After the lengthy, yet great opener, "Bye Bye Beautiful" quickens the pace a bit, going only for about a quarter of the length of the opener, but nonetheless is another great song especially with the chorus sung by Marco and is probably the standout track in my eyes. "Amaranth" which is a close second continues the sound, pace and atmosphere. On "Cadence of Her Last Breath" the is an incorporation of more drumming and solos but does not bastardize the sound the band have established on the prior three songs. In a change of pace kind of, "Master Passion Greed" features Marco more than Anette (as she is really only heard during the chorus doing backup) and yet it still works masterfully. The lead single of the album "Eva" is a definitely slower tempoed song than the rest up to this point and kind of makes me wonder why it was the first, as it definitely isn't the best work on the album. With the length of the album I will leave it at this and go straight into my thoughts on it.
I could go on and on about this album, I really could. The fact that it's about double the length of your usual release nowadays is one reason, another is the way that it flows perfectly. Solidarity is one of those hard things to find in an album, it's either a few hits strewn together with a bunch of filler, or the "every songs different" approach, which while it isn't a half bad idea on that part, isn't as rewarding to the listener than that of a solid album that doesn't stray too far away from the sound it has created. Not at one point does this album drag at all and it keeps the listener intrigued which is amazing considering the fact that this is just the first record with their new singer. To reemphasize, I was never a fan of this band before but with this record, my mind has changed. The addition of Anette Olxon was one of the smartest the band could have ever done in my opinion. This album is far and away one of those "few" that you pick up and are blown away by. Again I am also troubled by trying to pick "standout tracks" on this disc, as it just has that ebb and flow about it that just makes it hard to pick one over the other. It to me almost feels like I'm listening to a good book being told through music, something epic and altogether captivating at the same time. This album is by far one of my top albums for the year and was one that I just happened to pick up on a whim.