In addition to being super-productive in terms of schoolwork (three papers down in about a week!), I managed to get my hands on a digital copy of the new Nightwish album Imaginaerum! Legally, of course; I preordered the 2-CD DigiPack T-Shirt Litho Sweepstakes bundle, and got a digital copy of the CD a month early.
I must say, I was initially skeptical about it, as it had a lot of untraditional metal songs. Then I remembered I had felt that way at first about “Storytime,” so I kept an open mind, and after a couple of listen-throughs, was pleased with most of the album. “Taikitalvi” was enjoyable, and the transition into the amazing hard metal “Storytime” was flawless. “Ghost River” brought out interesting dynamics, with Marco’s vocals contrasting well with the children’s choir, and was a very creepy and also well-done song.
“Slow, Low, Slow” I did not like. It is not a metal song, pure and simple. It is a ‘5o’s slow jazz piece, which is fine, but not so much in a metal album. It came as an unpleasant shock, and Anette’s voice in this song is husky, which was not a particularly enjoyable experience. This song just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the album, either. “I Want My Tears Back” was great, with Marco’s vocals and Troy Donockley’s uillean pipes (which I always love) creating a great dynamic. The prominent role of the pipes also pleased me greatly. Additionally, Marco’s and Anette’s alternating vocals made the song a pleasing one.
“Scaretale” was a beautiful example of horror translated into music. I won’t say more here, but it was amazingly well-done, and you should listen to the song to understand exactly what I mean. I felt like I was in a horror movie. “Arabesque” – the album’s instrumental – is my favorite Nightwish instrumental so far, passing “Last of the Wilds” from Dark Passion Play.
“Turn Loose the Mermaids” was very unconventional, acoustic song that I am still trying to decide how I feel about. It was very unconventional and critically good, but I am not sure whether or not I liked it. “Rest Calm” was also very good, again featuring both Marco and Anette. “The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove” was another very good song, again integrating both vocalists, and letting Marco shine in a lower-key metal song. “Last Ride of the Day” was amazing as well, but “Song of Myself” – the thirteen-minute epic – was, unsurprisingly, the star of the album, blending vocal, symphonic, and metal elements perfectly. It was definitely my favorite. The album’s title song, “Imainaerum,” was a good conclusion to the album and incorporated themes from the other songs, but added little new itself.
Overall, I’d rate this album as Nightwish’s third best. Once is still my favorite of theirs, followed by Dark Passion Play. Maybe with more listens, this album will get even better, but I am glad that Nightwish did not suffer from the syndrome that made Sonata Arctica’s newest album The Days of Grays mediocre. Imaginaerum is a phenomenal album, though it might take some getting used to. At times, I felt that the band was experimenting a little too much, but in the end, it was very original and well-done. I also really liked how Marco played a very prominent vocal role, much more so than in the band’s previous albums. I highly recommend Imaginaerum to any symphonic metal fan!
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