Nightwish – Imaginaerum [2011]

Band: Nightwish
Album: Imaginaerum
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Metal

Here it is: One of the highly anticipated albums of 2011, Nightwish’s new epic. But is it that huge and majestic everyone hoped it would be?

Well, to start right off with the intro [the very first Nightwish ever did on an album] which was a bit disappointing and made me press the skip-button already. I found myself listening to the first actual song on the album which was none other than “Storytime”. The song itself is quite entertaining and Anette Olzon’s voice fits quite well to this positive and poppy track. By the end of some listening sessions of the album I found myself thinking that this one is one of the strongest [tracks] on “Imaginaerum”. “Ghost River” which comes afterwards is nothing special to me although the Child-choir is quite nice, but I’m afraid I have to say that it’s nothing more than nice (to me).

The first highlight of the album comes with “Slow, Love, Slow”, which has a complete Anti-Nightwish-Feeling, something completely different. The song is not only reminiscent of a 30s bar-atmosphere but very Lacrimosa-like with its dark, intensive mix of slow, easy melodies and the guitar solo, I really liked that one and consider it being one of the highlights of the album. “I Want My Tears Back” is something I feel that Tuomas had the feeling “I have to do a metal song with a catchy hook line”. Well, it doesn’t work that well in my opinion as it just feels that he felt forced to do a metal song. It sounds very constructed and unnatural to me although the song is not that bad but again nothing special. “Scaretale” offers some interesting vocal techniques, but the middle “circus” sounding part is again something which was just too long for me and so as a result, I quickly lost interest on it although it’s again quite a cool track with its typical orchestration and the overloaded bombast, but again the last “wow” effect didn’t come up at all. This one would have been better in an Tim Burton movie than on a Nightwish album.

“Arabesque” is an instrumental and it starts with a very promising introduction but after 1:30 it gets boring and sounds more like a Prince of Persia-soundtrack sample when you have a fast action-scene in mind.  Afterwards “Turn Loose The Mermaids” offers a kind of half-ballad with a strong “Blackmore’s Night” feeling throughout it and it also doesn’t have that Nightwish-like sound. Maybe because of this fact, it’s one the better ones on Imaginaerum. “Rest Calm” and “The Crow, The Owl And The Dove” are okay tracks. The Crow, The Owl And The Dove has a little Roxette feeling for me, funny but not Nightwish. Off to the next one, called “Last Ride Of The Day” which is one of the best on “Imaginaerum” with its majestic orchestration, the almost perfect and catchy chorus and its authentic Nightwish feeling.

The longest track on the album is “Song of Myself”. It starts quite promising and stays very strong until about seven minutes in when it turns out to be, in my opinion, a much too long audio drama which would have been nice for two minutes or so, but it lasts until the end of the song. On an album with 75 minutes, having almost ten percent of it narrated is too much and not that fair for the paying fan, in my opinion, although the voices are really cool but then the track itself can’t end with the narration and has to find some kind of climax or something else more intersting.  The last track “Imaginaerum” is a medley composed of the highlights of the previous tracks, played by the huge Orchestra which is like a little deja-vu of the 70 minutes before and is quite cool, showing the strong moments of the main melodies. And that’s it…

Conclusion: Don’t get me wrong: Imaginaerum is a good album for anyone being interested. It’s well-produced and has versatile music, but the problem with this output is that it sounds as Tuomas would have prefered doing something different to this and was just forced to release a metal album under the banner of Nightwish. This is why the untypical songs, orchestrations and sountrack parts are the strongest moments on the album while the more typical sounding metal songs, which you really deserve on a Nightwish CD because they’re metal without doubt, feel really loveless and uninspired. It’s somehow like sitting between the chairs and I quote a friend of mine who summed it up: “For metal, it’s just too uncatchy and for a movie soundtrack it’s just too uninsteresting!” It’s a good piece of music and quite entertaining but for me (and I expected it to be actually) it’s not the “album of the year” nor an “epic masterpiece”. It’s just good, nothing more, nothing less.

3.5/5

Martin Harb [Guest Reviewer – Keyboardist of Visions Of Atlantis]

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