Nightwish…..if you are in the metal scene you surely have heard this band, it has been almost in the metal scene for almost twenty years (Angel Fall First that I consider their first official release, came out in 1997). Since the inception of the band, they marked in the milestone in the metal scene by setting a foothold for “Symphonic Metal” with other bands such as Therion or Within Temptation.
What was great about Nightwish? The orchestral and synthetic melodics coupled with heavy drums and guitar bass. Who knew that having classical music and heavy metal would marry so great? Well at least Therion gave a try the same year with “Theli” then Nightwish entered the scene. But what Nightwish brought was a voice, an opera-quality voice: Tarja Turonen. It was such a tsunami in the metal sphere that even nowadays they are students taking “Suomi” (Finnish) as college course because of Nightwish.
I got introduced to the Symphonic Metal by listening to Evanescence and the Gathering and I liked it. Then came Tarja and it was the greatest voice I ever heard and I immediately fell in love with Nightwish. It was conciliating my love for classical music and heavy riffs.
But let’s come back to this album. For me, this album is special because it conclude a hiatus I had with the band after they discharged Tarja and took Annette Olzon instead. Honestly I never liked Annette’s voice as Nightwish and also I found their two albums fairly bad. Then they dumped Annette and pick Floor Jansen (ex- After Forever and touring as ReVamp). I liked Floor since After Forever and although she will never replace Tarja she is so far the best pickup from the band (just type Ghost Love Score Tarja and Floor in Youtube). I was disappointed by “Elan” and interested by “Shudder before the most beautiful”. The album just came in, iTunes downloaded for me and pushed it through my “commute test”. First time, I had to have TWO commute tests for this one. I will explain to you later.
What can I say? Oh boy, this one really gave me a hard time because of the secrecy on it and the song pickup for its promo by Tuomas. But it feels like falling again in love for that same girl I was in love during my college years and separated with a tearful time. I really liked it and glad to see Nightwish bringing back the best it was: Orchestral Metal and great opera singer. Some have parted ways from their roots like Lacuna Coil or Within Temptation. They are surely great in the mainstream music scene but no thanks not for me.
The album is really good and despite two three tracks that I did not like such as “Elan, we have a bold and refined Nightwish album, kind a natural continuation to “Once” if you consider everything after Tarja departure as non-canon. Floor is really enjoyable.
But the big thing in that album is this one (and that one that cost me a second commute just for it): “The Greatest show on Earth”, a 25-minutes of pure evasion altering orchestral and acoustic instruments with heavy metal sequences and with Floor unleashing herself (and when she unleash herself, you rather hide your butt because she will kick yours). Imagine 25 minutes, in a single track, the longest track duration I have ever experienced (Epica fairly reach 13-minutes duration). An ode of love for the Nature and for Darwin. A must-listen for any scientists. It is such a pure joy to just sit aside from evolution (and all the molecular mechanisms driving it) and be like Darwin. Watch and appreciate how evolution brought to Earth the greatest show to see: the show of Life. This is just a marvel, tears of joy when Richard Dawkins (that I despise in other times) but I can just like hearing him quoting Darwin:
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
If I ever have to teach evolution in class again, surely Nightwish would be a recommendation to my students.
My conclusion? A great album, sure with flaws, but with great orchestral arrangements.
My favorite tracks: “Shudder before the Beautiful” and “The Greatest Show On Earth”.