Guys, this is an amazing record! I absolutely love it. Not sure if this was the first one I ever listened to from Nightwish, but Dark Passion Play definitely beats everything out of the sky that the band produced so far. Very sorry, you Tarja fans, her records just ain’t that good. But only just, I admit, judging by her performance on her last and final album Once.
It is of course not only the front woman, but here it needs to be noted that Anette Olzon really delivers on Dark Passion Play. And this in spite of the hate that fans directed at her for the simple reason that the band chose her to replace Tarja Turunen. This undercurrent really came to the forefront when Imaginaerum saw the light of day with all its dire consequences.
In addition, one can really feel the passion and energy behind the making of the album. Goes with the name, doesn’t it? Or the feeling of liberation, how Tuomas Holopainen explained it. A remarkable Marco Hietala again contributed strongly to the record, later to be followed by his excellent work supporting Delain for their 2009 album April Rain. You get a sense that the whole band was pulling in the same direction for this record, no contest. And this is not an impression we got from later productions, notably Endless Forms Most Beautiful. The band remains pretty tight-lipped about its inner workings, true. But the strained remarks of Floor Jansen told us a lot nonetheless.
So, how to describe Dark Passion Play?
Fast and furious in places true to Nightwish‘s past of Power and Symphonic Metal, guitar work reminiscent to what was displayed Once or Oceanborn for that matter. Other parts again coming across as soft and silky.
The songwriting skills again took a leap forward on this album. The over-compression felt on their last album is almost forgotten. Mixing and mastering mainly on the high quality side. The song structure of the tracks is well executed, much clearer than on other Nightwish records.
Dark Passion Play starts with an epic, very long and very varied The Poet and the Pendulum (they like to do those lengthy pieces @ Nightwish…), the journey takes you over a rocky Bye Bye Beautiful and a few more songs to the very soft ballad Eva. A few songs later, The Islander will take you on board and on a great journey. The album is rounded up by 7 Days to the Wolves, ending in a very quiet Meadows in Heaven and you need this one to come down from the high this record induces.
I listened to Dark Passion Play time and again and do not tire of it. And this is amazing, if you look at my usual music consumption. Some critics state that this album is only notable because of The Islander, but this is way too simplistic and does not give the production its just credit. The record is a clear step up from Once, technically much improved and generally very enjoyable to listen to.
I would buy it again, but .. I already got a copy.
[Editorial note: The review made it successfully onto the first ever Intermittent Best Of of the RockmusicRaider blog. Congrats!]