Genre: Symphonic metal, power metal, orchestral

Length: 74.50

Tracks: 13

Origin: Kitee, Finland

Release Date: 2011-10-30


Ever since Tarja Turunen‘s departure from the band in 2005, it was hard to believe that Nightwish would ever be the same again without her soprano vocals , especially with the new lead singer Anette Olzon, who quite frankly didn’t fit the part aesthetically or vocally, seemingly better suited as a pop star rather than a symphonic metal queen.  After the 2007 album – Dark Passion Play, I was pretty certain that post-Tarja Nightwish was doomed for failure.  However, fast-forwarding to 2012, Nightwish have upped their game releasing an album that is absolutely brilliant.

I have to admit, that Dark Passion Play was not one of my favourite albums, in fact I hated it, and this was probably to due to the fact that the most recognizable and unique aspect of Nightwish had been extinguished – Tarja Turunen.  For me, it was inconceivable for Nightwish to change their lead vocalist and even though Dark Passion Play did exceedingly well, I did not enjoy it, even to this day.  To me, Dark Passion Play sounded like the band were doing what they do best, except that they failed to compensate for the fact that Tarja was gone, with the result that the music suffered as it didn’t quite suite Olzon’s voice.  However, it’s been five years since Dark Passion Play, and the band have reinvented themselves by creating a concept album that would never have worked with Tarja.  Anette Olzon returns with a wonderfully Gothic presence in Imaginaerum (just watch the Storytime vid), an album that is tailor-made to fit her, allowing Olzon to flex her vocal talents in a spectacular fashion.

So let’s get down to brass tacks.  Imaginaerum is the seventh studio album released by the symphonic metal band Nightwish, it is also worth noting that the band’s latest work is a concept album that tells the story of an old composer on his deathbed, the album was produced alongside the film of the same name.  Since Imaginaerum is a concept album, it incorporates many different musical styles with the result that each song sounds quite different from the last yet somehow the album manages to masterfully maintain a sense of cohesion and consistency.  Apart from the usual staples of symphonic metal (insane guitar riffs, keyboards etc), the album makes use of a full orchestra as well as a choir resulting in an album that sounds very much like a film score from a Tim Burton movie and in fact Tuomas Holopainen has cited that the three main influences of Imaginaerum are film director Tim Burton, author Neil Gaiman and painter Salvador Dalí.  It is also worth mentioning that this album is far heavier than Dark Passion Play.  I can also see why it has taken the band five years to produce this album, as every aspect of Imaginaerum is a finely tuned work of genius, not only is it technically brilliant, but it features some of the eeriest and coolest lyrics ever with lines like;

♫ Where is the wonder, where’s the awe?
Where’s dear Alice knocking on the door?
Where’s the trapdoor that takes me there?
Where the real is shattered by a Mad March Hare ♫

Conclusion | Imaginaerum is without a doubt, Nightwish’s best album to date, everything about it is just so damn good, and the more you listen to it, the more you will like it as the countless hooks present in the album embed themselves into your mind.  If like me, you were put off by Dark Passion Play, fear not, because Nightwish has returned in full force with a masterfully-crafted album, brilliant in every aspect.  I embrace the post-Tarja Nightwish and highly recommend Imaginaerum to anyone with a love of music and if the deal wasn’t sweet enough already, the limited edition of Imaginaerum features a bonus disk with instrumental versions of all the songs, what more could one want out of an album?

Grade: S