Sound — 7
It seems so long ago that Nightwish's symphonic brand of metal crossed over into the mainstream, with songs like "Nemo" becoming popular across several European countries. It's not coincidental, particularly considering the success of other female fronted bands in contemporary metal; bands like Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation. Nightwish has a reputation for being heavier than the music actually is. In actual fact, the songs' heavy riffs are almost always complemented by melodious vocals and guitar lines that help the band evoke several pop sensibilities. Songs like "Ghost River", whose introductory riff owes a serious debt to Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", are terrifically powerful, the guitar riff supported by an incredibly powerful chorus. The London Philharmonic Orchestra does an excellent job throughout this album.
The album, which is obviously made with the "Imaginaerum" film in mind, is full of swagger and grandiose that is missing from a great many contemporary music albums. It's a positive thing that Nightwish indulges in short, quirky scores like the intro track, "Taikatalvi".
It's quite surprising that the band is tasteful enough to know that Annette's vocals aren't always necessary. At times there can be a chaotic cluster of noise when her vocals are indistinguishable from the rest of the band, but Nightwish is expert at not making this mistake frequently.
There are also some delectable folksy elements featured on "I Want My Tears Back", which offers the perfect platform for Annette's cool vocals.
There's an excellent guitar arpeggio on "The Crow, The Owl And The Dove", whilst the title track really showcases Nightwish's ability to work with the Orchestra, even delegating the song. It's a really strong case for people to really sit up and notice symphonic metal.
The single, "Storytime", is unashamedly pop. It's an obvious song to promote, and might well have been written with that purpose in mind. The London Philharmonic Orchestra is at its majestic, dramatic best on this song, while the guitar tone is absolutely desirable. It's not musically mundane far from it but it is quite obviously an attempt to gain more mainstream success for Nightwish. On this basis, it is deserved.
Lyrics — 8
Everybody was up in arms over the manner of original singer - Tarja Tarunen but it's testament to Annette's sheer ability that acknowledging Tarja's departure is but a superficial act. Annette shines on this album, her vocals expertly recorded. They shine alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She sounds terrific during the slower sections, but that's not to say that her power doesn't carry her through the heavier songs.
Overall Impression — 7
The importance of this album will only be seen when the film is released. It's going to be a tense wait for us before we discover if Nightwish is going to hit the heights that were hit with the release of "Dark Passion Play". I don't know if "Imaginaerum" will be a platinum seller, but the songs are strong: can Nightwish pull this off?