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Another masterpiece from the symphonic metal giant - 100%

Argus_Eye, November 12th, 2012

Four years has passed since the release of their previous album Dark Passion Play which continued the change that had been in progress ever since Century Child, the movement to a more theatrical, more symphonic Nightwish. Imaginaerum continues that trend and takes it to a whole new level backed by The Looking Glass Orchestra (The London Philharmonic Orchestra) creating Nightwishs most orchestral and epic album yet.

The musical style of the songs on the album are diverse but the album never feels sprawling, they blend together in an exceptional way making the listening feel fresh during the entire duration of the album (74 minutes). It is strong, incredibly strong, every track, except for the maybe the a little bit redundant instrumental Imaginaerum, feels like they contribute with something on the album and every single song stands out, there is not two songs that sounds alike, they are remarkably well crafted and clear evidence of the mastermind Tuomas Holopainens ability to compose music.

The album tells us a story of an old composer lying on his deathbed thinking back on his life and starts off with the first pure intro ever on a Nightwish record, the beautiful Taikatalvi building up to explode into the poppy first single Storytime. Ghost River kicks off with one of the most distinct hard rock riffs I have ever heard from Nightwish and continues over to the smooth jazzy Slow, love, slow that gives the listener an interesting pause to then go blasting into the traditional Nightwish song I want my tears back complete with folk melodies and a refrain that immediately stick in your mind. Scaretale is the most theatrical piece Nightwish has ever written where Anette Olzon, giving her best vocal performance to date, during the song goes from singing to screaming like a witch and back to singing again. Arabesque is an instrumental track with some oriental influences that becomes like a crescendo for the first part of the album.

Following that discharge the tempo is lowered a bit in the calm and beautiful ballad Turn loose the Mermaids and continuing over to the mid tempo, and heavy Rest Calm. Then we have the only song that’s not written by Tuomas Holopainen, The Crow, The Owl and The Dove (written by Marco Hietala) it’s a semi-acoustic ballad with a catchy refrain. After that comes the only real power metal track of the album, Last Ride Of the Day it is symphonic and displays a Nightwish I thought where gone. And so it comes, the 13 minutes long epic Song of Myself, saying it’s a thirteen minutes long song is not entirely correct as it’s only about half the song that consists of music, the remaining 6-7 minutes are spoken words, at first this was quite shocking, but it grew on me and I would not consider listening only to the music-part, the word-part must be in there too, it’s too good not to be there. At last is the title track, an orchestral piece consisting of melodies from several of the songs on the album, but I have to say it is quite bland.

To sum it up; this album is one of the most well-crafted musical pieces I have ever heard. It displays the reason for why Nightwish is The Giant within the symphonic metal genre. They are simply so much better than anything else, the band is so tight and this set-up composes fantastic music no matter who sings in Nightwish, it may be Tarja Turunen, it may be Anette Olzon, the music holds a so high level of craftsmanship that it turns golden independently of the singer.

This is at least on the same level as Wishmaster, outshining every other album, but are you of the opinion that Nightwish post Tarja is shit, well probalby you are not going to like it.

Favourite tracks:
Song of Myself, Turn Loose the Mermaids and Rest Calm

Least favourite tracks:
Imaginaerum