Nightwish, ‘Imaginaerum’ – Album Review
The Finnish symphonic metalers of Nightwish are back after a five year absence with their new album ‘Imaginaerum.’ To say the least, if visual movie directors Tim Burton and Peter Jackson ever needed a score for a joint film, it just might be this album. Nightwish are also set to release a movie called 'Imaginaerum' in 2012, and the band is said to have a small role in the film, as well.
‘Imaginaerum’ begins with a lullaby like intro titled ‘Taikatalvi’ sung entirely in Finnish. The band’s second song on the album and the first single, ‘Storytime,’ shows off the melodic goodness of frontwoman Annette Olzon. Even though ‘Imaginaerum’ is only her second album with the band (her other being 2007’s ‘Dark Passion Play’), her vocal talent is irresistible.
The controlled chaos of the up tempo track ‘Ghost River’ offers some serious riffs thanks to axeman Emppu Vuorinen. Meanwhile, singer-bassist Marco Hietala's offers an appealing deliverance of guttural, raspy lyrics: "He will go down / He will drown drown / Deeper down / The river wild will take your only child / He will go down / He will drown drown / Deeper down / The mills grind slow in a riverbed ghost town.”
If Jessica Rabbit had a permanent theme song it would be the track ‘Slow Love Slow,’ This sensual yet jazzy tune has an unhurried, steady and deep bass line. The tune may not be popular with some Nightwish fans, but major props for the band trying out something different. The track adds to the musical diversity of the album as a whole.
In more up tempo tunes such as the very epic ‘I Want My Tears Back,’ which features a wicked dual solo between some serious guitar shredding versus major talent behind the uilleann pipes, as well as the track ‘Last Ride’ of the Day’ where Olzen sings her lungs out and shows off the many vocal layers she has to offer.
The very eerie yet edgy track ‘Scaretale’ invokes a bit of terror especially with children creepily singing, ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ in the beginning backed by a carnivalesque sound. Not to mention the screeching, banshee / wicked witch like deliverance of Olzon where she spits out the disturbing circus of lyrics: "The bride will lure you / Cook you / Eat you / Your dear innocence boiled to feed the evil in need of fear." If cannibalism doesn’t scare you, what does?
Folkloric tunes on this record include 'Turn Loose the Mermaids,’ which offers a catchy and calm yet larger-than-life sound, along with the song ‘‘The Crow, The Owl and The Dove,’ which is set to be the band’s next single. Even though the latter tune it is also a slow-paced number, Olzon’s vocal range is just as compelling.
‘Rest Calm’ starts off with powerful, towering vocals by Hietala and the song ascends when Olzen takes over. Her soaring vocals transfers into a tranquil harmony for the serene chorus as she sings “Every little memory resting calm in me / Resting in a dream / Smiling back at me / The faces of the past keep calling me to come back home / To caress the river with awe / Within there's every little memory resting calm in me / Resting in a dream / Smiling back at me / The faces of the past keep calling me to come back home / Rest calm and remember me.” The tune is one of the best examples on the album of why the duality of the two vocalists works so well.
‘Arabesque,’ an instrumental track which serves as somewhat of an intermission is refreshing with intense and galloping percussion that might have you thinking that you’ve just stepped into a warped version of ‘Arabian Nights.’
‘Song of Myself’ is more than 13 minutes long and halfway through a soft piano introduces the rest of the song where spoken word takes over. At about 11 minutes, a somber guitar riff comes into play and adds yet another layer to the very deep song which feels like a lyrical montage of poetry and narrative.
The album’s outro, aptly titled ‘Imaginaerum,’ takes pieces from each of the tracks on the album and combines them into one. This is the perfect song to accompany you home after you have taken a trip with Nightwish through this musical expedition.
‘Imaginaerum’ offers such variety and depth to music as a whole and is easily one of the best Nightwish albums to date. The creativity and talent of Nightwish is undeniable, as no two tracks sound alike, and the band manages to take you on a wild journey that your ear drums soon won’t forget. With every listen, comes a new adventure.