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Who the hell are you to tell me... - 90%

Naudiz, May 6th, 2012

... what to do, why to do, why bother?

That seems to be the device Tuomas Holopainen chose for himself when he started working at Dark Passion Play. The firing of Tarja Turunen was a deep cut into both the band history and the heart of the fanbase. Tuomas knew that many people would not appreciate the decision he and the band made, so he stopped caring too much about it. He did what he thought best for the band.

And so, this album's the crucial test for the new lead singer the band chose, Anette Olzon. She had a pretty big pair of shoes to fill, and in my opinion, she did her job very well, although I had the feeling that she had a few difficulties in hitting the higher notes. Also, you hear that she was very nervous and could not fully fathom her abilities. No wonder, since she knew that she would be compared with Tarja from the first moment on (although I guess she never thought it would be THAT bad as it is, even after what, 7 years?). But however. Anette still shows a good technique, and she really puts her heart into her singing. What she don't owns in vocal quality, she makes up with her passion. For me, that equates a lot.

The instrumental side on Dark Passion Play is the real problem for me. It's not that it would be musically bad - of course not, I mean, it's Nightwish! -, but there are... Let's do it step by step, starting with the guitars. There are only a few riffs on DPP, and most of them are way too short. And for the remaining time, the guitars are drowned out by the omnipresent orchestra. Plus, the playing is kept quite simple, what kinda demands too little of Emppu. That becomes really clear when you see him live. Sometimes he seems like an unemployed, just standing there with his guitar in hands and waiting for his time to come. Marco has a little more to do, but the bass also stands somewhat in the shadow of the orchestra - but unlike Emppu, he has a very important singing role... of which more later.

A similar thing as with the guitars I noticed at the drumming. Sure, Jukka has a lot of work to do, and he never really just sits there waiting, but what he has to play is quite simple. But that's nothing new, I mean, on which of the previous albums was he really challenged? I dare to say seldom enough.

Let's take a look at the aforementioned orchestra. It is really pompous, epic as hell ... but it takes damn too much space. It outdrowns the "classic" Metal instruments and sometimes even Anette (not on the album of course, but live). So I dare to say Tuomas has exaggarated the whole orchestra thing a little bit more than it would've been good for the band. I mean, hey, when does Tuomas have a real keyboard part? He's nearly unemployed on stage! Not to mention that they need to play the orchestra from the tape while playing live, cause taking an orchestra on tour would be a little bit too expensive even for Nightwish.

So, I have forgotten Marco's vocal parts above, so I return to them now. He has to do a lot, since he sings in almost every song of the album. His voice suits the new direction Nightwish are taking with Dark Passion Play pretty fine, although he sounds sometimes not as aggressive as I would have wished. Still, his voice fits perfectly with Anette's, they don't hinder each other, although Marco outdrowns her sometimes live.

Enough of that. Let's sum up the whole thing.

Dark Passion Play is, inspite of the mentioned weaknesses, a real good album, although I sometimes got the feeling it's not Nightwish anymore. I don't care for changes, I think a band has to evolve with the years, but this one came too abrupt for me. With the change of vocalists everything changed... everything except of the beautifully written, albeit sometimes very pretentious lyrics which touch your heart even if you don't want them to. And you won't miss catchy tunes on Dark Passion Play as well. The main things that represent Nightwish are still there, although they are sometimes kinda hidden behind all the orchestra and so on. And Anette is a real achievement for the band; she don't needs to hide behind Tarja. Maybe on DPP that wasn't her best vocal performance, but as I can see now, she has developed a lot since coming to the band, and I believe she will even more with the years.

So yeah, for the Tarja-Fanboys and -girls, DPP will be a slap in the face, but if you are open-minded and accept that Tarja won't return, you'll find that DPP isn't the worst thing Nightwish ever produced. 90 %.