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Released: Nov 30, 2011
Genre: Symphonic Metal, Power Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast, Roadrunner Records
Number Of Tracks: 13
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.
ImaginaerumFeatured review by: UG Team, on december 01, 2011 4 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 7
Lyrics: 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. // 8
Overall Impression: 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? // 7
Bluesmetalguy, on december 01, 2011 3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: "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. // 9
Lyrics: 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: 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. // 10
Jkiernanguitar, on december 08, 2011 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Being an avid Nightwish fan since their release of Nemo and being becoming hugely influences and inspired by their earlier releases, hearing the release of Imaginaerum was both refreshing, quirky and wildly interesting. Imaginaerum is a concept album revolving around, as Toumas himself states, "Tom, a composer with a serious dementia. His illness wiped all his adult life memories, including those of his own child. He's only left with the imagination of a small boy and slowly drifts away into coma. There seems to be a little hope left, when the daughter tries to save him from a horrible fate." The quality of the music is nothing short of genius with the intricate tying in of orchestra, choir and other ethnic instruments. Knowing full well that this album is built for a movie and is a concept album, the quirky "Un-Nightwish" aspects of the album that at first seem awkward like the small blues section and the polka sounding section make the album a much more enjoyable listen and a refreshing work of art. Personally, I've always felt that the guitar tone could have been fuller, for there are many times where the guitar doesn't have the fullest sound. At the same time, when mixed with the other orchestral instruments, the guitars sound great. On their own is where I would say they could have used a bit of work. // 9
Lyrics: Anyone who is and was a Tarja enthusiast cannot deny Anette's credit on this work. Though her singing style will never be that of the operatic Tarja, Anette's vocal variance through Imaginaerum is impressive and vast. In many of the songs Anette implements harder styles of vocals, including a fiery bit in "Scaretale" and a great accompaniment to Marco's heated vocals in "Ghost Tale". The lyrical content can also seem a bit quirky at first, but the album's purpose and concept shine through the lyrics and reflect the story incredibly well. // 9
Overall Impression: Through using many styles, sounds, instruments and concepts, Imaginaerum is Nightwish's most outstanding work. Nightwish continues their dominance over their genre while expanding into something much bigger than themselves. With the variance that garners the track through vocal experimentation and even a polka section, "Scaretale" has been the standout track to me that exemplifies this album. The anticipation I had for this album was well worth the hype and wait and the movie sounds to not disappoint either. The only unfortunate part of this release is that the album does not drop in the US retail stores until January, so in order to get a copy early if you're in the US it needs to be purchased through their online store. Other than that, this album is Nightwish's finest and most inventive album to date. // 9