NIGHTWISH – Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Anticipation is at a fever pitch for the new album from the symphonic metal leaders Nightwish. Especially considering the addition of ReVamp / ex-After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen and permanent pipes/flutes & whistles musician Troy Donockley to their ranks. "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" comes at a point in time where the sextet has firmly established their sound and headlining status all across the world – so now it’s only a question of whether the quality of songwriting continues to shine as on their previous records or not.
After multiple spins, the 11 song, 78 minute recording certainly plays to Nightwish’s strengths in terms of setting emotional moods and cinematic overtones. Tuomas Holopainen as keyboardist and main songwriter knows when to go full force in terms of the symphonic brightness and when to allow the natural melodies and heaviness take over – check out "Yours Is An Empty Hope" for the balancing act both aspects take between verses and the chorus. "My Walden" intertwines melodic metal naturally suited for Floor’s broad mid-range and slightly higher register plus folky instrumental sections that should promote loads of dancing and singing in the aisles, the second half almost entering Celtic bluegrass-like guitar movements.
Obvious Nightwish songs that possess the requisite uplifting vocal melodies and sweeping instrumental moves include the title track (love the swirling symphonic action against Emppu Vuorinen’s steady guitar churning) and the heavier "Weak Fantasy", a song for Floor and bassist Marco Hietala to share story telling/ singer duties while the main riff reminds me of a cross between Khan-era Kamelot and "Dead Heart in a Dead World" period Nevermore. And of course, the almost 24 minute "The Greatest Show on Earth" is a tour de circus within itself – between the classical piano beginning, Floor’s operatic vocal showcase, the suspense-turning instrumental / narrative mid-section, all hands on Nightwish deck come together for a mini-short movie in essence.
When looking at this album in relation to 2011’s "Imaginaerum", I believe "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" extends the Nightwish sound into deeper emotional horizons, and allows the musicians to be playful in context with these arrangements. Fear not long-time followers, this band has not let you down – and I’m curious to see what lies ahead for the band as they hit the road promoting this material.