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Nightwish need no introduction, whether you wanted to or not you've probably heard something from them. They've been striving for commercial success over the last couple albums, and could very well get it with this one. I could see pre-teen girls sticking this album on their shelves between Avril and Yellowcard quite easily. Anyway, I'll start with the vocals.
This chick may be "classically trained", but that doesn't mean a thing if she doesn't bother putting forth any kind of effort. To be entirely honest, she sounds like shit on every song on this release. Something about her voice when combined with this poppier style just annoys the hell out of me. The choral effects are even more obnoxious, sounding like the type of amateur stuff that might have come out of a 70's horror movie. The male vocalist is no better, though he is thankfully used sparingly, but when he is it's usually in a generic "we need a guy to sing the chorus for no readily apparent reason" context similar to Evanescence or Lacuna Coil. When a band is fully capable of much better, this half-assed garbage is completely inacceptable.
Where there were once halfway decent power metal guitars, there are now "industrial metal" riffs similar to Orgy or Rammstein, very few solos and even a breakdown or two. There're a few songs that border on self-plagiarism, but the rest is basically the above glorified pop music. It's not so bad that it reaches the "Jumpdafuckup!" point, but it's definitely on the more commercial end of things. Sound interesting? Thought not.
The keyboards are absolutely horrendous, used incredibly poorly, and often in much the same way as the choral effects. They're sometimes used to accent the drum in that standard obnoxious Finnish way, sometimes in a more standard "backing" synth manner, but almost always blaring and annoying. I'm not entirely certain what this band's keyboardist was thinking, but this sounds like something a 15 year old in a black metal band would throw away for being too shitty. The orchestration is equally atrocious, often sounding like the opening theme from Wild Arms in one instance and some other random generic RPG the rest of the time.
Now, the album as a whole is incredibly bland, being little more than random combinations of the above elements. However, the various combinations strike me as very sloppily mixed, and incredibly uneven sounding. The keyboards are way too high, demanding that you pay attention to them in all their horror, the guitars too low when they aren't going all Deadsy and way too loud otherwise.
This album is not metal... it's not even mallcore. It's incredibly poorly done pop "metal" attempting to add a number of "new" elements to cash in. The effects of being signed to a label owned by Universal were somewhat obvious a few years ago, but never really reached this point of pop sensibility before. I cannot fathom how fans of metal or classical can praise this album with a straight face, it truly boggles my mind. This is naught but complete and utter garbage.