Sound — 9
"Imaginaerum" is the first new material from Nightwish in 4 years, and after for years of waiting the verdict is good. "Imaginaerum" blows the lid of "Dark Passion Play" as a beautiful and uniquely operatic piece featuring all that makes Nightwish great and more. This album is mysterious and beautiful and incorporates lots of mood changes and orchestral bits. There is a lot more experimentation on this album than on previous works showing Nightwish still has swaths of musical territory to cross. The guitar has all sorts of interesting parts for fun listening. The bass is solid and Hietala proves he's still got it. The drums of Nevalainen are varied and have reached a new level of skill. Holopainen's keys are more important than ever and his orchestral compositions have a cinematic excellence rarely found in metal (or at all really). Then Olzon manages to bring the entire piece together with her soaring vocals. All in all this is a great release from Nightwish and I can not wait to see them perform it in April. The guitar work on this record can only be described as eclectic. While there are some great hard rocking tracks like "Storytime" and "Ghost River" there are also a lot of lighter songs and even some jazz influences. "I Want My Tears Back" is probably the song that is most in the vein of classic Nightwish with an oddly timed riff some shredding and lots of headbanging fun. Slightly after this track is "Arabesque" one of the strangest compositions on this record and shows Emppu's ability to play pretty much anything you throw at him. Another example of experimentation is the jazzy portions of "Slow Love Slow" which show Emppu as we have never heard him before. One thing I would like to hear more of would be the shredding that was so prominent in the earlier albums I feel it could make some of the intros even better. Nevertheless Emppu manages to rip out some great riffs. In short, this record features great guitar work from Emppu and he proves once again that he is one of the most talented guitarists in the symphonic metal scene. The bass work done by Hietala on this record is very good and features some great rhythm figures that really lock the heavier songs into place and add flavor to the lighter ones. Once again Hietala manages to nail Emppu's funky rhythms on the head and give Nightwish a full sound. He gets a bigger role on this album than on previous efforts because the acoustic songs allow for more of his stuff to get through to strengthen the material. I still feel though that his role could be expanded to show off the full range of his skill. The drum work of Jukka Nevalainen is also really well done. In particular his work on "Scaretale" shows a lot of technical skill as it features some of Nightwish's craziest rhythms ever. His drumming also does a great job adding a layer of aggression to the orchestra when required. Jukka's solid drum licks really help bring the band together. The keyboards and orchestras of Tuomas Holopainen is better than any of his previous efforts. In my opinion "Song Of Myself" is the greatest thing he has ever done with Nightwish. His keyboard work is particularly good on the track "Rest Calm" where his keys support the intro with a great riff and then come in to support the verse. While his technical skill may not have overly advanced his keyboards definitely show more emotion and variety than ever before. The orchestral work on this record blows my mind. From the beautiful orchestra heard on Taikatlvi to the aggressive strings at the intro of "Song Of Myself" Holopainen shows he has taken his orchestra to a whole new level. In addition to this the cinematic feel of some of the orchestras has me peeing my pants with excitement for the movie. There is a lot of very solid work here from both a keyboard and an orchestral standpoint and with a bigger part of the compositions given to Tuomas than ever before this album is amazing.
Lyrics — 10
Then we have the vocals of Annete Olzon, Olzon has closed any doubt in my mind that she is a great singer and can take Nightwish in a great new direction. On her second record with the band her voice has really matured and manages to rip out some great arias "Slow Love Slow" on as well as belting hard hitting lyrics on "The Crow The Owl And The Dove". Sometimes she even does both in the same track like in "Rest Calm". The lyrics on this album are great. The overarching story of an old man thinking he is a boy is beautiful and touching. The lyrics cover topics like remorse in "I Want My Tears Back" and love in "Slow Love Slow". Finally they culminate in the tear inducing "Song Of Myself", which is a beautiful orchestral piece. In short, Annete takes Nightwish to a new level on this album and I wish her all the best.
Overall Impression — 10
In conclusion, Nightwish has outdone themselves in this most recent effort. With fun guitar riffs that few guitarists can imitate Emppu leads the Nightwish charge with rhythm insanity. The bass is solid and helps to keep Emppu in check and boost him with aggression when he needs it. The drums help to bring the sound together and keep the band grounded. Then Tuomas and his soaring orchestras can bring tears to your eyes. Finally Annete's arias give the music a beauty that is unmatched in bands with male vocalists. To finish, you really need to buy this record, Nightwish has made their best ever and I can't imagine how they can top it. If you like my stuff find more of it at Twoguysmetalreviews.blogspot.com.