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  SCOTT ADAMS

NIGHTWISH
'Imaginaerum'
(Nuclear Blast/Roadrunner)
Released: 2nd December 2011


scott adams

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When ice maiden Tarja Turunen left Finnish operatic dreamweavers Nightwish, many mourned the band's imminent demise. Who could possibly replace such a distinct and unique voice, such an obviously strong focal point for a band's image and output? When the same band recruited a - gasp - pop singer, these same naysayers nodded sagely and stroked their immaculately oiled goatees. Everything was proceeding as they had foreseen.

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When the same band then released an album, 2007's 'Dark Passion Play', that had plenty of sweat on the brow but precious little of the shimmering beauty and gargantuan bombast of its predecessor (2004's lavishly epic 'Once'), they appeared to be fully vindicated in their doomsay. But they hadn't forecast what would come next.

Article continues below...

   


In simple terms, 'Imaginaerum' knocks most of Nightwish's previously recorded work into a cocked hat. They've never managed to record an album this sleek, this convincing, and this cohesive, whoever has been at the mic, yet you have to say that diminutive throatress Anette Olzon is the absolute star of the show here. Tarja who?

In all honesty, I was happy to accept the judgement already passed on this band. 'Amaranth' aside, there was nothing on the last album that grabbed me, and I listened to this purely out of courtesy to a record company that actually still bothers to send hard copies of albums out to writers instead of impersonal, info-poor download links.

I didn't expect much. And after opening scene-setter 'Taikatalvi' had come and gone, I still didn't. But then 'Storytime' erupts from the speakers, and it's on for young and old. A completely convincing hit single, 'Storytime' weaves elements of Abba and Metallica together to devastating effect, leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention. Its chorus, once heard, will stay in your ears forever, thanks to the first of Olzon's match-winning performances.

She does even better on the sultry blues of 'Slow, Love, Slow', a jazzy - yes JAZZY - cabaret-style number that, if a video is ever filmed for it, will surely feature Olzen singing in a deserted bar whilst the bartender sweeps the floor and sets chairs atop tables. Evocative, haunting, memorable, and completely surprising - this song has it all.

'I Want My Tears Back' is more standard Nightwish fare, a stridently catchy stomper that will settle the pulses of longtime fans shuffling nervously in the shadows, waiting for something familiar to get their teeth into. It's good, but not great.

'Scaretale' follows much the same path, but somehow it sounds bigger, looks shinier, and is made of better material. It's a sprawling, headbanging, entertaining tour de force forming the centerpiece of the album and delighting with its sheer dynamic force. This, indeed, is a dark passion play, featuring scary fairground organs, massed choirs, neck-snapping riffage, and that woman again playing a blinder in the vocal booth.

'Scaretale' morphs perfectly into the stirring instrumental 'Arabesque', which must surely end up somewhere down the line as the incidental music to a Circue Du Soleil-style acrobat routine. Again, it's a massively accomplished, evocative piece of music - if you've any sense of imagination, you won't fail to be transported by this magical music.

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At this point, you have to pause for a moment and doff your cap to Tuomas Holopainen. Anette Olzon may be the star of 'Imaginaerum', but Holopainen is the master manipulator, the not-so-evil svengali pulling the strings behind the scenes. It is he who has given Olzon the chance to shine with this near-flawless set of songs, and he needs to be handsomely acclaimed for that. Most bands would be happy to wind down from the obvious peak of 'Scaretale'/'Arabesque', but not Holopainen.

Next up is the gobsmacking 'Turn Loose The Mermaids'. Again, on the face of it, a by-numbers Nightwish-meets-The-Corrs Celtic-tinged bagatelle, the sort of thing Turunen would have revelled in, but nothing special. But then the band throws in a sumptuous Spaghetti Western-styled mid-section that turns the song on its head, and leaves you gasping again at the splendid audacity on show here.

'Rest Calm' features some reassuringly muscular riffage to go with an excellent vocal from bassist Marco Hietala, the song again returning the album to more familiar surrounds for the band. Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen takes centre stage for a nice solo, but the band allows the song to die slowly when a dead stop might have prevented the slight loss of momentum suffered here. That said, the slow fade makes the gentle start of the haunting 'The Crow, The Owl And The Dove' seem much more natural, so what do I know? A beautiful acoustic ballad that sees the band again drifting into Eurovision territory before things get a bit more electric for the bridge, this is another song that will surely be a massive hit single - especially in Mainland Europe - if there's any justice.

'Last Ride Of The Day', whilst stirring, is pretty much 'Over The Hills And Far Away' rewritten with an Orffian chorus tacked on the top, but it'll set pulses racing in the live arena and is still enough to get the neck nodding and the fist clenching. Vuorinen comes up trumps again here with some niftily fleet-fingered soloing. Which leaves us with two tracks to go, one stunning, the other, well, filling...

First up is the band's epic interpretation of Walt Whitman's 'Song Of Myself'. Easily the most ambitious, cinematic event in the band's canon, the first half is given over to some traditional - some might say rather prosaic - bombast, whilst the latter half, given over to a minimally-scored reading of verses from the poem, is strangely moving, and always fascinating. It might not be completely successful, but the song is definitely worthy of congratulation, the band deserved of applause for having the guts to attempt something so fraught with possible pitfalls and opportunities for carpers to shout "pretention!". It's a massive achievement.

'Imaginaerum' ends with an orchestrally-scored reprise of themes from all that's gone before - it's unnecessary but inoffensive, and you can do without it.

Not perfect by any means then but, in this reviewer's eyes (and ears), this is the ultimate Nightwish album. Indispensable stuff.

13.12.11

More Scott Adams right here.


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electric wizard ELECTRIC WIZARD UNVEIL 'TIME TO DIE' AS TITLE OF FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM
"We had to kill the band so we could be reborn. It was the only way to ensure we could come back even stronger"...

motorhead aftershock MOTÖRHEAD POSTPONE RELEASE OF 'AFTERSHOCK - TOUR EDITION' NOW 4th AUGUST
A production error has put back the release for a month, but it will be worth waiting for...

suicide silence tour SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER 2014 UK TOUR
An unmissable opportunity to see the titans of modern Metal. "Come throw your horns up, bang your heads, or mosh your knickers off!! "...

hordes of belial LIPID AND BURNING THE DREAM ADDED TO HORDES OF BELIAL V BILL
The yearly Dundee Metal event continues to strengthen the line up...

snakecharmer SNAKECHARMER ANNOUNCE THREE UK DATES
Six of the UK's most highly-esteemed and experienced rock musicians have joined forces to create Snakecharmer...

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE NEW U.S. TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER 2014
Manowarriors have demanded more and further dates have been added. "We can't wait to be back and play for more of our U.S. fans!"...

tygertailz TIGERTAILZ RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'PUNCHED IN THE GUTZ'
The 'Knives' EP is out now and there is an upcoming release of unheard demos for September...

progstravaganza PROG SPHERE INVITES BANDS TO SEND SUBMISSIONS FOR 20TH EDITION OF PROGSTRAVAGANZA COMPILATION SERIES
The call goes out for bands around the world to submit songs for the jubilee edition of the sampler album ...

accept ACCEPT PREMIERE BREATHTAKING VIDEO FOR NEW TRACK 'STAMPEDE'
The stunning locations perfectly showcase the track which is from the band's album 'Blind Rage' out August 18th ..

mr big MR BIG ANNOUNCE ONLY BRITISH ISLES SHOW OF 2014
LA Rockers Mr Big have announced a one off show at London's Koko on Friday 17th October 2014 - their only show on these shores this year...

spike frankie miller SPIKE ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF '100% PURE FRANKIE MILLER' FEATURING RONNIE WOOD, ANDY FRASER, SIMON KIRKE, IAN HUNTER AND MORE
Call it a labour of love. A life's ambition. Or the chance to keep a precious legacy alive. Call it 100% Pure Frankie Miller....

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS RELEASE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR BRAND NEW SINGLE 'SOLDIER'
Explosive hard rockers Kobra And The Lotus have revealed a warsome (get it?!) official video for 'Soldier'...

massive wagons MASSIVE WAGONS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND UK TOUR
Two years and it's finally here, the brand new album - 'Fight The System'...

temperance movement THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
The headlining dates will take place in November 2014...

overkill OVERKILL REVEAL NEW TRACK 'ARMORIST' ONLINE
"Our confidence is high for this shoot. From the director's eye to yours/ours, should be a killer!"...

avenged sevenfold AVENGED SEVENFOLD ANNOUNCE 'WAKING THE FALLEN: RESURRECTED' - OUT AUGUST 25TH
The restored breakthrough album includes a DVD & never before heard tracks, demos, and more...

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE ANNOUNCE LONDON SHOW WITH EPICA
Grab your tickets quickly as demand for this double bill will be high...

devildriver DEVILDRIVER PREMIERE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'GUTTED'
Check out the band's latest offering from sixth studio album 'Winter Kills'...

down n outz DOWN 'N' OUTZ ANNOUNCE UK & EIRE TOUR DATES
"It's like Joe and the boys have taken some vintage films and slapped them onto a big, bright Technicolor screen. A great, in-your-face new way to experience some of Mott's finest songs!"...

nuclear assault NUCLEAR ASSAULT TO RELEASE 'LIVE AT CBGB'S'
There will be a limited release of 500 picture discs capturing the old school thrashers back in 1986...

seether SEETHER REVEAL NEW TRACK, 'SUFFER IT ALL' AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD WITH 'ISOLATE AND MEDICATE' PRE-ORDER
The band have also announced UK Headline Shows for November...

gravedigger GRAVE DIGGER PREMIERE 'HELL FUNERAL' VIDEO
The track is from 'Return Of The Reaper', out July 14th...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX SET TO GUEST WITH THE WINERY DOGS ON TWO UK DATES IN JULY
These performances follow their Sonisphere appearance on Saturday July 5th...

orphaned land METAL MUSIC IS BIGGER THAN WHAT POLITICS CAN OFFER: ORPHANED LAND BRING ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TOGETHER
"We are the ambassadors of peace, more than our foreign ministry, or prime minister, or authors..."

madball MADBALL REVEAL OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR 'BORN STRONG' FEATURING CANDACE PUOPOLO FROM WALLS OF JERICHO
The track is taken from the album 'Hardcore Lives', released June 30th...

metallica METALLICA RELEASE NEW SONG
'Lords of Summer - First Pass Version' gets official release after being premiered on the first night of the current tour...

ted nugent kamp "TED NUGENT KAMP FOR KIDS" CELEBRATES 25TH ANNUAL SUMMER "KAMP"
When he's not being a guitar icon, Ted Nugent is on a mission to improve young lives. New album 'Shutup&Jam!' is out July 8...

massive wagons MASSIVE WAGONS RELEASE SINGLE AND NEW VIDEO 'RED DRESS'
The video incudes circus performances from the girls at Monster Cirque in the first release from the album 'Fight The System'...

black state highway THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM BLACK STATE HIGHWAY IS OUT ON 18TH AUGUST
The highly anticipated release is packed full of heavy riff-based rock...

helmet HELMET ANNOUNCE 'BETTY' 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR OF EUROPE FOR AUTUMN 2014
UK dates in Glasgow, Manchester, London now added due to popular demand ...

wacken LIVE AT WACKEN 2013 TO BE RELEASED AS DVD/ BluRay / 2 CD
Experience the world's biggest Metal Festival at home and be in with a chance to win a Lifetime Membership...

uncle rust UNCLE RUST ANNOUNCE AUGUST UK TOUR
The recently formed London based rock/Metal band will undertake a set of UK dates in August 2014...

blitzkreig BLITZKRIEG ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR FOR SEPTEMBER 2014
The band will visit five countries on their only tour this year...

sonisphere LATE NIGHT ENTERTAINMENT AT SONISPHERE ANNOUNCED
Only two weeks away - get ready to continue the party after the headliners leave the stage...

finntroll FINNTROLL REVEAL LIVE FOOTAGE OF SEMINAL TRACK 'TROLLHAMMAREN', FILMED AT THEIR LIVE ALBUM RECORDING SHOW IN AMSTERDAM
"Lock up your daughters, kegs of rum and men of God, for The Trolls from Up North are coming for you...live!..."

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE REVEAL NEW VIDEO 'THE GAME' (FEAT. MATT HEAFY OF TRIVIUM)
The track is taken from the album 'Maximum Overload', which will be released in August...

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