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I have been loving Nightwish since their debut album, and as almost every band that has been playing for decades, even Tuomas Holopainen's crew started to make more and more mistakes or - better - completely useless discographical operations throughout the life of his band. I think that this is a pretty much an unescapable drift, especially if we look at all those metal bands of any subgenre that grew famous and famous in the whole world, from Helloween to Metallica. In this particular case, Nightwish used to produce astonishing albums and singles in the beginning of their career, only to gradually drift into that useless void of absolutely unnecessary bunch of singles, compilations, live albums and so on, culminated into ridiculous (and, I repeat, completely futile) products as Made in Hong Kong (and in Various Other Places), Erämaan Viimeinen and the not-really-clever celebratory 2011 compilation Walking in the Air - The Greatest Ballads.
The good thing about Nightwish, and I'm starting to take into consideration this Storytime single, of course, is that they have always made awesome and astonishing albums, probably in order to make us forget the large majority of the 21 (yes, 21) singles they took from 7 full-lengths, including the last Imaginaerum that I have not listened to yet. I am not going to say anything about the thousand-year old discussion about the new Nightwish sound, Anette and so on - I will only affirm that I have enjoyed their last Dark Passion Play, and I'm still thinking that it has been one of the greatest Nightwish record of all their history; Anette herself has kept on improving her vocal techniques as we can hear on this Storytime single, that is pretty much created on her capability to personalize what is a well-composed song that many would call "pop"-metal - and they would not be that wrong.
In fact, Storytime follows a tradition that keyboardist and songwriter Tuomas Holopainen has been pursuing for years, characterized - musically - by tracks dominated by his keyboards and pretty simple in the structure (thus reaching their climax in catchy refrains), and lirically by an increasing use of fantasy and imagination-related topics, not always really "poetic" but often - as in this single - fancy, fresh and enjoyable. In a recent interview I read that Tuomas consciously chose not to insert a lot of guitar solos in the new album, and this song actually has none of them on it. Unfortunately, in the same interview I read that bassist Marco Hietala's voice has become something like Andrea Ferro's role in Lacuna Coil, no more limiting himself to accompany the female singer's main voice but taking properly the vocal duties of a full-time singer, as we had to listen in the worst songs of the previous album (Master Passion Greed above all).
Nothing of this, though, on this single! The radio edit, that is the first song we hear in the record, has only the voice of Anette on it and it follows the path traced by another great sort-of "pop" metal song, Amaranth, and in fact Storytime has an awesome and catchy chorus that accompany ourselves throughout the whole song, which is even more enjoyable if you watch the videoclip that has been spreading for weeks as of December 2011, a videoclip in which you can see - along with the whole band as almost every Nightwish video - a great number of "making-of" scenes, "making-of" of the upcoming Imaginaerum movie of course, of which I am not going to talk mainly because I hate movies at all and even because Tuomas explicitly told us that the whole Imaginaerum album isn't related to the film itself.
Returning to the single proper, the radio edit version - the version we hear in the videoclip - has nothing more than a good keyboard melody and a catchy mood - the perfect quality for a single, of course, it revolves around an amazingly-composed refrain and it's enriched by the usual orchestrations that Nightwish has accustomed us to, but then we have to pass on the second song of the single, the so-called album version of Storytime. The bad thing is that this version has nothing more than the previous one, with only two or three passages made longer - of which in the large majority of the listeners nothing will remain at the end of the song, feeling as you have listened two times to the same track. No guitar solos, no keyboard parts.. I am really not able to understand why not to put one or two other songs on this single. Anyways, the third track is the usual instrumental version of the single - just as Nightwish released a version of Dark Passion Play made up by the instrumental versions of every song - and even here the song occupies a place that should have been left to other and different songs; not that I hate instrumental tracks, but it's absolutely pointless to listen to the same track three times without hearing any difference at all - and the fact that, in this last song, Anette's voice is of course absent makes it even more boring after having just heard to the album version of the song itself.
Many say that Emppu is a bad guitar player, that Tuomas has no more ideas, that Marco's male voice sucks and so on.. and I disagree (except for what concerns Marco, of course.. who should really limit himself as he used when singing with Tarja), the sound of the whole single is clear and it's almost perfect, we have of course the usual orchestrations and Tuomas's keyboards are as great as always. The instrumental version of Storytime itself has a good and entertaining central part with the ordinary operatic-voice choruses, but what really makes this single pointless and of no use at all is the basic fact that it's composed by three versions of the same song, a song that every Nightwish fan has been listening to a hundred of times since the videoclip has been put on the Internet. My main suggestion is not to buy this single at all, and wait for the complete Imaginaerum album - not that the single itself is not good, it's rather catchy and well-played, but I bet you anything that in the 95% of the times this single is going to be left on a shelf along with the other hundred of useless Nightwish between-one-album-and-the-other singles, compilations, live albums and so on - hence my low rating.