Following the outstanding Dark Passion Play, Nightwish created their 7th studio album Imaginaerum. And vary we were. Because after such great results, one is never sure how to top the last edition of a band’s delights.
Now, to start, the band – together with director Stobe Harju (The Islander) – decided to accompany the album with a film created in tandem. The movie finally saw its light of day in 2012 and features re-interpretations of tracks on this current album, plus some new stuff. The tracks Slow, Love, Slow, an instrumental of I Want My Tears Back and Scaretale are directly played on the film.
Anette Olzon – at that time lead singer of the band – always finishes to astound me with her very good capabilities as a vocalist. It looks like she fell from grace with Tuomas (for reasons undefined…) and the band shortly after they started touring, and got chucked out rather unceremoniously. Not a good decision in my book. This sounded very much like the abrupt disconnection from Tarja Turunen some years back.
The aftermath with blame and counter-blame was not nice to see. No good PR can come out of mutual mud-slinging, if you want to run a smooth operation. That said, however, the RMR offices (grouchily) admit that Floor Jansen does an amazing job since her arrival with proof delivered in their 2015 record Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Anette finally moved on to launch her solo career with her debut album Shine. Which we understand – interestingly – already got started during the Dark Passion Play World Tour.
I must say, Nightwish do not take kindly to criticism. I left a rather direct message on their Facebook site and was blocked for a while by the webmaster. WTF, you guys from Nightwish! Learn to live with some negatives, now you give me a chance to write about it.
But back to Imaginaerum: The music is fast, rocky and very well structured, Symphonic Metal at its best. I really like this mix between hot and cold, sweet and rough. Ghost River is a very good example of that. Now, credit goes to Marco Hietala and Anette Olzon who harmonize perfectly on this disc. As usual, the record sports equally great lyrics and good story play, perfectly created by Tuomas Holopainen.
Imaginaerum takes off with a furious Storytime, moving over to the excellent I Want My Tears Back. The band really lets loose on that specific track. This is fully mounted Nightwish at its best, a full 10/10 for this track alone. As goes with a storyline, as in soft and silky the band injected some of that into the fray. The well rounded Turning Loose the Mermaids is nothing for hardened metal fans, yet it will strike a chord with those up for some perfectly executed slow motion tracks.
I really like this somewhat decadent feel of variété and hidden debauchery that permeates Imaginaerum. A circus-like performance that Nightwish perfectly knew how to interpret. And it permanently gives you this impression of a motion-picture soundtrack. A story being told. Which of course it is in the end.
Unfortunately, the second half of the record loses speed some. Yet you will find no fillers on this record. A series of OK songs that culminate in a soft’n’rough Song of Myself. An epic creation almost 14 minutes long. May I suggest to take a moment and listen to the somewhat endless monologue that is exceedingly well done.
Even if the lyrics dangerously lean towards overcooked bombast near the end. But hey, this is Nightwish too – the change from G to E-Minor. If anything, this track is a precursor to their next album that will speak about creation. And, yeah I know, the album does not end there, but the last contribution is not worth mentioning, not unless I want to go to sleep. Apart if you are up for endless instrumentals of the operatic kind.
To wrap this up, Imaginaerum is one of Nightwish‘s finest, even if surrounded by almost too much drama with Anette’s departure. Or perhaps it is just this quantum added spice needed to really get the record on its way to nirvana.
The album mixes stellar musicianship with a potent savoir-faire in storytelling and excellent song-writing skills. The outcome is a slightly wicked, highly entertaining piece of Symphonic Metal that needs to be topped still. I love the album, a very varied, excellently crafted piece of work. Congratulations, Nightwish!