Album Review: Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful
24th March 2015, 10:26
Posted by Chris
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It is such a rare feat these days that a band can boast a back catalogue of such highly acclaimed albums. Nightwish’s career has not stagnated once in their nearly 20 years of existence, and despite highly publicised vocalist changes that has quartered the fanbases, their popularity has gone nothing but up. Why? Their music is simply immense. So here we are with album number 8, but after throwing so much into their previous effort ‘Imaginaerum‘, have the band finally run out of steam?

If the opening track of ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘ has anything to say about it, absolutely not. The album opens with Richard Dawkins, the figurehead in the album’s theme of evolution, speaking to provide a brief introduction to the loose concept. Without hesitation the album bursts into life with ‘Shudder Before The Beautiful‘, orchestras blaring, keyboards frantic, and suddenly a wall of guitars thickening into one of Nightwish’s heaviest tracks in their career. The band have gone all out in this one, from a massive chorus transitioning to a prolonged solo battle between guitars and keyboards. It purely represents the things to come on the album, a raw Nightwish that has tapped all the highlights of their career into a transcendent epic.

Moving straight on to ‘Weak Fantasy‘, the band does not immediately lift up the power and aggresion, yet makes an immediate impact of the spectrum of elements the instrumentalists now have to offer on the album. From a massive heavy chorus of ominous choirs transitioning into folk guitar melodies and tribal drumming, overlaid by the diverse vocals of Floor Jansen marking her Nightwish recording debut. The further addition of Troy Donockley as a full time member proves to be one of the wisest of investments as they make use of his talents with the vast array of unique instruments evident with tracks such as ‘Elan‘ and ‘My Walden‘.

There are moments of this album that represent pure passion and take us on a journey of reminiscence of styles throughout Nightwish’s career, whilst building on top of them with the vast resources of choirs and full orchestra the band now have at their disposal. The softer ‘Elan‘ takes us to the softer metal with hook that Nightwish singles in recent years, while the heavier ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘ and playful ‘Alpenglow‘ revisit the ‘Century Child‘ days with a diverse range of Emppu Vuorinen’s erratic guitar work with memorable guitar melodies, and dramatic choruses that completely define Nightwish as a musical force.

As the album draws to a close, we come to expect a poetic closure of such an exquisite palette of music, however the higlights of the album are only to come. The beautiful instrumental ‘The Eyes of Sharbat Gula‘ serve as dramatic solace before the storm in the centerpiece of the album – the 24-minute monster of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth‘. This progressive epic highlights the songwriting brilliance of Tuomas Holopainen, taking on the theme of ‘life and evolution by natural selection’, the track takes on the aggressive, the beautiful, the mysterious and everything that the band have to offer in one neat package, making full use of the massive vocal range of Floor Jansen and the masculine prowess of Marco Hietala. One of the finest tracks in Nightwish’s career if I may say so!

Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘ simply put is sheer brilliance. Where the previous opus’ of ‘Dark Passion Play‘ and ‘Imaginaerum‘ continued a theatrical progression off of the success of ‘Once‘, this album has taken a renewed and raw approach to songwriting, revisitng the process of old and writing songs to highlight talents of band. The broad and experience-laced musicianship has put to full use just englightening us again as to why this band has made, and will continue to make history, and should be very proud of their 8th album. Forget about the past controversies, put aside your vocalist disputes, Nightwish has produced a fantastic album that can be adored by all.