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To be honest, I always was a die hard Nightwish fan. Meaning that, it has been more than 10 years since I started listening to them. Yes, I even got to hear them live with Tarja. It has been 6 long years since she left Nightwish (or rather, kicked out) but still some fans can't come to peace and accept that the band had to move forward with another singer.
Surely, the fact that Tarja was in the band, and the fact that Nightwish met worldwide success with her is without a doubt not a small thing. But, apparently, for Tuomas, the mastermind behind Nightwish, the one that composed most of Nightwish's music, it was more like an obstacle. He could not achieve his desires in music with her in the band. We can witness that the music style, since Anette came become much more complex and dynamic and also much more intense.
The symphonic metal elements are still there, without a doubt, they were not left aside even on Dark Passion Play. Though it was clear that with Anette as vocalist, the band will take a new direction. In my opinion, Nightwish became a new band, like a rebirth actually.
Dark Passion Play was experimental, in my opinion, it is the same like one of those bands, that has been recently formed and they just launched their debut. It attracted a lot of attention, stirred up though by the well known promotional song, Eva, but it was accepted by the audience.
Imaginaerum, on the other hand, is the album that marks the maturity of the new Nightwish. It is much more dynamic than Dark Passion Play, far more complex, much more melodic and please the ears. This album was specially made for Anette, to put her in the spotlight and somehow, I feel that Marco's role has been minimized, though his vocal acts are stunning and impressive in this album as usual.
Taikatalvi stands as a prologue for the second song of the album called Storytime. It is also the introduction, it is sung in finish by Marco. Now, what better way to promote the album than to release probably, it's most outstanding song, Storytime. A video was also made for it, with footage from the soon-to-come movie. Storytime incorporates the identity of Nightwish but it also comes with something new. Anette's voice is stunning, singing in a rather fast manner, keeping up with the rhythm of song.
Ghost River, the third track, begins with an impressive guitar solo made by Emppu. This song features Marco and Anette singing in a duo. Like in Dark Passion Play, Marco and Anette singing together is always a win. Unlike the times when Tarja was still a band member, Marco's voice was always covered by Tarja's soprano voice. I pretty much never seen a decent duet between these two, but this radically changed when Anette took the role as the main vocalist.
Other songs that in my opinion are worth listening are I want my Tears Back, Turn Loose the Mermaid, which is like a follower for The Islander, though this time Anette is the one singing and not Marco and Song of Myself, the longest track of this album which spawns for more than 13 minutes and, same like The Poet and the Pendulum from Dark Passion Play, it is divided into 4 parts.
All in all, Nightwish outrun themselves by releasing Imaginaerum. As a follow up of Dark Passion Play it stands as probably the best, most melodic, most complex and most dynamic album Nightwish ever made. Anette has definitely integrated well in the band and I think this line up will last for a long time, I truly hope so. Nightwish is the kind of band that needs time and peace in order to release good products. Imaginaerum for me was an album that I placed much expectation into, since they took their sweet time in order to produce this one. It might've been earlier released if not for the movie, but I am satisfied with the product and I think the wait was all worth it. It's time to move forward now, Nightwish is once again back in full force!