Imaginaerum review by Nightwish

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  • Released: Nov 30, 2011
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (126 votes)
Nightwish: Imaginaerum

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

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Seriously. Two reviews that don't even mention Marco's excellent vocals in passing? Shame. But yeah, the whole album is pretty great. The songs were written with Annette's vocals in mind, so she sounds just right singing them (unlike Dark Passion Play, which so desperately needed Tarja).
    I listened to the album twice yesteday, first listen was "WOW!" and the second one "Meh, it wasn't THAT great". I really liked the experimental "Slow, Love, Slow" with the jazzy influence and "Scaretale" which breaks into a avant-gardish interlude reminiscent to the likes of Diablo Swing Orchestra. But there are some boring moments over here and there and some other "generic Nightwish" bits which may not be really interesting at this point. Anette has really improved in this one, to a non-annoying point at least I think we can ALL agree this is better than DPP. 8.4 for me
    Finally a new album from Nightwish, and it did not disappoint, in fact I consider it better than DPP in the aspect of Anette's vocals handled much better with the music
    henkka_potku wrote: I heard the new single and I puked a little in my mouth.
    lol, I hope it was tasty
    I loved dark passion play. At first I thought Anette was nothing compared to their last singer, but I prefer her now - find her far less irritating. I've got high hopes for this album!
    Nightwish has never been my favorite band, but I've got to say that I'm proud to be from Finland since it has grown so popular Oh, and the old singer's name wasn't Tarja Tarunen, she's surname is Turunen!
    Isara wrote: It won't be released in the US until January unfortunately. It was released yesterday in Finland only, and the rest of Europe tomorrow I think.
    Monday for the UK, only cuz thats when HMV update stock, twats
    Finally got my hands on the Limited Edition! And what an album it is! just amazing, the harmonic composition is astonishing from start till end! They have thoroughly used the full potential of Anette's voice for this album. A masterpiece one more!!!
    Well I love it! I have been waiting for these for a very long time, and I'm not dissapointed, it's a really great album, the guitar is awesome, and I can't put words to the keyboards... I love them! Thuomas is a genius! Can't wait for the movie, and I'm glad they're back! With their best album (for me).
    When I got the album, I listened the whole thing without doing anything else. I was astonished. It is a magnificent album, no doubt about that. Maybe I'm just brainwashed, but I didn't find boring parts in it at all.
    For those you live in the US and want the album now - Piratebay has a leaked copy of it xD
    There's a section in "I Want My Tears Back" that sound similar to "Dance of the Dead" by Iron Maiden.
    I found the album a bit... Boring maybe...? (Maybe its my fault, because my expectations where so so high) Nightwish created the perfect atmosphere, spot on in that requirement, but I feel that at times they failed to fill the atmosphere with the expected originality... The lyrics are poorer in my opinion, considering Tuomas standards.. (please don't use the excuse that "Its a themed album" cause its not acceptable) His lyrics usually touch my insides, give me shivers and shills down the spine... Not so much now... At parts they either don't really go anywhere, or just repeat and repeat..... And that is something I really wasn't expecting to see coming from Tuomas :x I loved that in DPP Marco participated so much, he really has an amazing voice and its nonsense to keep his mouth shut. Emppu seems to have lost excitement, he sounds like he doesn't know how to sound, the rhythms are great but he doesn't stand out like before, witch is a shame, he wasted the few moments he has in the spotlight... Jukka is as good as he always was, which, with all due respect, is not very. The biggest surprise for me was actually Annete, she really shined in this album, she seems more and more one with the band, and I think that even if some people weren't able to fully accept her in DPP then Imaginaerum will help you hear Nightwish again! In conclusion - I am a bit disappointed with this album... :/ Its sad to be saying this about the new album of one of my favorite bands and a great source of inspiration for my own music, (But I don't just devour anything that a band throws my way just because they are my favorites...) Still, I will give this album more listens and hopefully grow to like it... Hopefully I will, cause I waited sooo damn LONG for this album!!! xD
    Have to say that I made mistake that I was ubdating my facebook at the same time when I listening the album in the first time so had to listen it again to really get a gasp of it. And so far it's just getting better. As hoped and excepted Anette shines on this album. I also like the albums variety and how the orchestra is so tightly part with the songs. Of course there are still some parts to improve but because of the variety they won't come by as often. Have to remember that this album was made to pair with the movie. In some parts it would need the movie to make the songs and the moments really come to life. But it's greatest strenght lies in that connection and that is what it makes its different from others. A near masterpiece when alone, but is it a complete masterpiece with the movie, is what is yet to be seen. 8.9 points
    Psycho Pigeon
    Have to comment after listening to this album. It's superb. Scaretale is my favourite so far, it has an epicness to it.
    this album struck me as very good right off the bat.....and as i listened to it more and more it grew on me a lot. i love it. as a whole, its not ALL as original as many expected....but don't forget this is still night wish... songs like slow, love, slow were just unreal. glad to see something a bit different from them....also turn loose the mermaids. the orchestral arrangements were fantastic. as was annette... she really found her identity on this album... even more so than in DPP. on the whole: solid album..cant stop listening right now....
    it's way better than DPP, if you don't assume that this is a soundtrack kind of thing, it will be more difficult to dig it. Nightwish's escence returns in this album. Emppu finally remembered that he's a great guitar player, too lazy this last period, but in this album is a revelation, Ghost River riffs are killers! and Marco is great also. Great Album, my highlights Ghost River, Song of Myself, Slow Love Slow.
    It won't be released in the US until January unfortunately. It was released yesterday in Finland only, and the rest of Europe tomorrow I think.
    After 1 listen 2 songs stand out to me: -Song of myself is the best things I heard Nightwish ever do .. It's a piece of art.. -Slow love, Slow: I love myself some jazz, and it fits this song! The rest of the album was ok.. I thought it started kinda weak and got better near the end.. But I have to give it some more listens
    i liked the album, but nothing so great, nothing worthy of listening again, only some parts. but the same was with dark passion play, so i'll give it time and listen to it a couple more times and see if it gets me...