7 April 2013
Nightwish - Imaginaerum
Make no mistake, I am a hopeless romantic with this genre (symphonic metal) but quite a few similar acts are capable of turning a heavily produced piece of music into overindulgence, even with a full Philharmonic Orchestra at their disposal. Nightwish's 2007 album Dark Passion Play was evidence that keyboardist and creative songsmith Tuomas Holopainen was beginning to overcome the pain, anguish and ire of losing their operatic chanteuse Tarja Turunen (her diva-like behaviour was attributed to the sacking) and replacing her with the excellent and more ear-pleasing Anette Olzon. With the success of DPP Holopainen had turned the corner and could then concentrate on the next album, which is the object of this blog.
I really cannot know where to start with Imaginaerum except from the fact that it is an extraordinary album which diversifies from its metallic roots. As Holopainen describes, it's a concept personified as a collection of deathbed memories by an ageing composer. It all starts with a Finnish lullaby (Taikatalvi) and moves swiftly on more familiar symphonic territory with Storytime before the direction changes abruptly with the jazz tinged Slow, Love, Slow and yet another switch with the Celtic infused I Want My Tears Back (a highlight of Imaginaerum). Without warning, we are plunged into the childhood horrors of Scaretale, Anette showcasing her rare snarly and menacing vocals, while the complimentary male singing of Marko Hietala compels you to think you've been thrown into a Cirque du Soleil/Zombie event.
From there on, the group stops diversifying and retreads on more familiar ground of whimsical ballads and power metal numbers (Rest Calm, and Last Ride of the Day). However, Song of Myself, the penultimate track is a slight disappointment, chiefly for its length but half of the 13 minute song is based on the band members' spoken orations, which for me threatens to kill proceedings and lose the listener's attention. The final track, Imaginaerum, signs off the album simply with some orchestral pieces from all of the other tracks by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
All in all, Imaginaerum is a beautifully crafted mixture from the darkest depths of the mind to the heady discerning heights of hope and belief even though it suggests to rip open your inner child shamefully.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect....Almost. M. Richardson 07.04.2013
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