Nightwish : Imaginaerum
I am an unabashed fan of Nightwish, and indeed many of their female-fronted contemporaries. Their incredible 2004 album Once is an absolute landmark release in the genre, it's the one where everything came together for them compositionally, and it broke them on a worldwide scale as well. 2007's Dark Passion Play was an extremely strong follow-up as well.
It's been another lengthy wait for Imaginaerum. It's a concept album, based upon the memories of an old composer who is facing his death. There is also an accompanying movie to go alongside the album's release. Needless to say it's a ridiculously ambitious and dramatic undertaking, in true Nightwish style.
This however may be the album's downfall. In reaching for more of a 'music theatre' type of feel, they may have overreached themselves slightly, and sacrificed a little of the sheer, over the top bombast that they do best.
That's not to say there's not a solid wack of pomp and ceremony going on here. A first time listener probably couldn't help but be blown away by the sheer size, scope and ambition of the record. Bands regularly suffer in comparison to themselves though, and Imaginaerum falls a little short.
In constructing an album that is also a story, they have come up with a bunch of songs that maybe aren't quite as fully realised as they were on Once, since they're having to serve the storyline as opposed to simply standing alone. Listening through to the end of Imaninaerum, there are far fewer moments that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Viewed in isolation, this is an excellent symphonic metal concept album. Once, and to a slightly lesser extent Dark Passion Play, set the bar insanely high for these Finnish masters however, and Imaginaerum comes up slightly short.
BY ROD WHITFIELD
Best Track: Storytime
If You Like This, You’ll Like These: EPICA, LACUNA COIL, EVANESCENCE
In A Word: Overreaching