Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful – Nuclear Blast – Release: March 27th 2015.
There we have it; the long-awaited eight album the biggest symphonic metal band in the world, with a brand new vocalist. Nightwish hardly need an introduction. While they might not have been the first metal band with operatic vocals, they sure have managed to put themselves on the prime spot for female fronted symphonic metal and rock, surpassing the once heavyweight Within Temptation by miles.
For a long time the fans have been able to listen to Floor sing familiar Nightwish songs, but now it’s time to finally hear if she can make the new songs her own on “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”.
Floor Jansen – Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – Keyboards
Marco Hietala – Bass & Vocals
Emppu Vuorinen – Guitars
Troy Donockley – Pipes, Flutes & Whistles
Kai Hahto – Session drums
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Tuomas has based a lot of this album on the works of little know, but highly influential, man called Charles Darwin. And as a great tribute to his works Nightwish have managed to rope in Richard Dawkins to open up the album with his smooth silky voice, caressing your ear canals. And then they hit you with a sucker punch as “Shudder Before the Beautiful” opens up in full symphonic fashion!
Right of the bat I’m having a huge flashback to “Once”. It’s hard to explain why, but this album seems to harken back to that 2004 gem so often for me. Hell, “Weak Fantasy” only strengthens this feeling for me. Musically wise I would tentatively call this album “Once 2.1”, meant in the most positive way because “Once” is still my favourite Nightwish album. The added 0.1 would be because of the increased influence of folk tunes brought about in the two album since.
However, don’t let that give you the false impression that this album is stuck in time, because it most certainly isn’t! Nightwish’ music has always had a timeless quality to it and “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is no different.
This biggest change however, is of course Floor’s vocals. Would they fit in? Would it sound too much like an imitation of Tarja? Floor is one hell of a soprano as her long-time fans of After Forever and ReVamp know.
Well, Floor fits the songs just perfectly and it really is her! A lot of the lyrics are actually sung in her lower range and it’s rare to really hear her on glass-shattering levels. Personally I would’ve wanted to hear more of her soprano voice, yet the songs are written perfectly for her lower range and the moment where she does kick it up a notch are pure bliss. Just listen to “Our Decades In The Sun” and tell me that this couldn’t have been an After Forever song.
Luckily we can still enjoy Marco’s lovely maniacal vocals on a few occasions, though not as often as I would’ve wanted. But instead we get treated again to the very welcome vocals of Troy and he especially shines in the very folky and uplifting “My Walden”, which to be fair fits the trope of ‘The one very folky song’ Nightwish had on the last albums, yet I can never get enough of its like.
“The Eyes of Sharbat Gula” is an instrumental which could’ve easily fitted as a soundtrack, which is no surprise when you know that Tuomas originally meant it to reflect a whole slew of emotions captured in one well-known photograph. Due to struggling with fitting lyrics he chose to keep it instrumental, which also has it serve as a musical prelude to Nightwish’ most ambitious song to date; “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
A title straight from a book by Richard Dawkins, whose rich voice will talk you to sleep again during the opening as well as the closing of the song. 24 minutes of fine symphonic metal, injected with just about all the elements that Nightwish’ music has encompassed in the past years. Describing this song would be a full review in itself and since this one has gone on long enough it’s best to let you fully discover this dark chest of wonders for yourself, lest you be spoiled. Just let it be known that the album’s title “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” truly is a fitting name for this masterpiece.
To be blunt, this is “Once 2.1”. A rich tapestry of sounds, which perfectly reflects just about everything that Nightwish stood for, cementing their position as the top symphonic metal band for years to come!
- Shudder Before the Beautiful
- Weak Fantasy
- Yours Is An Empty Home
- Our Decades In The Sun
- My Walden
- Endless Forms Most Beautiful
- Edema Ruh
- The Eyes of Sharbat Gula
- The Greatest Show On Earth
Score: 4.9 out of 5
Text by: Robert Popovic