Overall Score: 8/10 Melody: 7/10 Vocal Performance: 9/10 Riffs: 8/10 Pros: Solid Riffs | Strong Vocal Performance | Incredible Backing Orchestral Elements Cons: The Pace Can Drag at Times | The Song Structure Can Be Repetitive in Moments
Nightwish are arguably one of Finland’s biggest musical exports. The band have been at the forefront of the development of symphonic metal over a 19 year career and now in 2015 the band are set to release their eight studio record, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Does this new offering by Nightwish continue the band’s choke hold on the symphonic scene or does it fall at the first hurdle?
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is the first Nightwish record to feature Floor Jansen’s vocal abilities since the departue of Anette Olzon in 2012, and with a new vocalist at the helm there is a cause for concern that the record may falter compared to the band’s previous efforts. However, Jansen’s vocals roar with strength, melody and composure that fits the formula Nightwish have strived to perfect. Her vocals are soothing to the listener, making the record flow incredibly easily; Élan is host to a soothing vocal melody backed up with a consistent bass tone whilst Weak Fantasy showcases her strength in holding a note to the highest standard.
Whilst Jansen’s vocals are nothing but excellent, the real star of the show is the downright epic sound Nightwish have built for Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Riffs are powerful, the drumming is consistent and the backing orchestral elements replicate some of the finest film scores in history. Closing track The Greatest Show In History is an absolute monolith, clocking in at 24 minutes, the track fuses every characteristic of Nightwish’s sound into one truly immense experience whilst opener, Shudder Before The Beautiful, sets the scene in dramatic fashion; with a score that flows in dramatic pace before a slick riff sets the atmosphere to great effect. With so many elements present in Nightwish’s sound, there are moments where the atmosphere is lost briefly. For example instrumental The Eyes of Sharbat Gula drags for its six minute duration and it is moments like this where Nightwish falter. It can be disappointing, as moments like this taint the otherwise fantastic elements that are present for the majority of the record.
Despite moments where the experience can falter, the introduction of Troy Donockley as a permanent member of the band is a breathe of fresh air. With his duties on uilleann pipes and tin whistle included into the band’s sound, it gives the band a new angle for the symphonic scene. For example the subtle inclusion of this in My Walden combined with Tuomas Holopainen’s melodic keyboard aspects, it creates a sound that is both refreshing yet replicates the sound of traditional folk bands.
And that is Endless Forms Most Beautiful’s calling card, this is a record that features a wide array of different musical qualities that have been composed together to create a sound that is truly wonderful to listen to. Many of the band’s longest serving fans may have been concerned at yet another line-up change prior to the recording of Endless Forms Most Beautiful; however Nightwish have crafted one of their strongest records in their career. There is enough melody and musical brilliance to satisfy anyone with a love for music performed to the highest standard, and whilst there are moments where the record does falter, these are blips to one truly fantastic listening experience.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is set for release on March 27th 2015 via Nuclear Blast Records