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Nightwish: Imaginaerum

25/05/12  ||  cadenz

The world’s most bombastic band is back. Nightwish, the Finnish symphonic musical metal squad sporting Swedish Anette Olzon on lead vocals, are back with their seventh full-length album. “Imaginaerum” is the first half of a twin-connected release of which the second part is a multi-million-dollar movie to be released in August 2012, and taking into consideration the band in question, this “more is more” approach is almost to be expected. Well, let’s see if the album sounds as massive as its movie counterpart costs, shall we?

With 13 tracks and 75 minutes’ playing time, and the performing line-up including a professional orchestra and choir as well as various guest musicians on various instruments, it’s safe to say that this is a mammoth release. The production is big, clear and huge, and fits the music like a glove. Most songs are what we’ve all come to expect of Nightwish: catchy and immediate songs that could’ve been taken from a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but cast in a metal mold with pompous orchestral and synth arrangements. First single “Storytime” is a good example of this, and although I hated it a first listen and waved it away as a banal and hackneyed farce of a song, it grew seriously on me and the catchiness of the chorus’ hook is undeniable. Not all songs hold the same high quality though, which isn’t surprising considering the length of the album.

We also get some Irish-tinged stuff (“I Want My Tears Back”), rumbling double bass and Metallica riffing (“Scaretale”) and other twists to the formula, but the clearly most unexpected feature of “Imaginaerum” is jazzy ballad “Slow, Love, Slow”, where you can envision a smoky jazz bar at 2 am, with a lonely spotlight illuminating Olzon on a barstool, huskily whispering the lyrics into a Shure 55S. Yes, that’s nerdy. Fuck off. Another thing that bears to be mentioned is the increasing soundtrackish, filmish, quality of the songs. This feature has been present for ages in the Finns’ music, but is coming to the forefront more and more, especially on interlude “Arabesque” and the Spaghetti-Western bridge on “Turn Loose the Mermaids” (how gay can a song title be? I think this is near the limit).

There’s been a shitload of discussion on the difference of voice between Anette Olzon and former vocalist Tarja Turunen, and whether the change has been good or not. In my opinion, Olzon’s vocals fit Nightwish’s style better, which is becoming more and more evident now that main composer Holopainen has her voice in mind when writing new songs. She lacks some in strength, phrasing and pronunciation, but has a nice clarity to her voice. Marco Hietala, lead singer of Tarot and one of the most underrated heavy metal vocalists, complements her well with his raspy and powerful delivery.

All in all, “Imaginaerum” holds songs and parts of songs that are great, but also dips into mediocrity. With a higher quality rather than quantity ambition Nightwish could’ve maybe made the best album of their career, now I can merely call this a solid effort. Which, when I think of it, probably is enough to crest their discography. Imaginae that.


  • Information
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Website:
  • Band
  • Anette Olzon: vocals
  • Emppu Vuorinen: guitars
  • Marco Hietala: bass, vocals
  • Tuomas Holopainen: keyboards, piano
  • Jukka Nevalainen: drums, percussion
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Taikatalvi
  • 02. Storytime
  • 03. Ghost River
  • 04. Slow, Love, Slow
  • 05. I Want My Tears Back
  • 06. Scaretale
  • 07. Arabesque
  • 08. Turn Loose the Mermaids
  • 09. Rest Calm
  • 10. The Crow, the Owl and the Dove
  • 11. Last Ride of the Day
  • 12. Song of Myself
  • 13. Imaginaerum