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Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful Award winner

Endless Forms Most Beautiful
by Dave “That Metal Guy” Campbell at 29 March 2015, 12:28 PM

Symphonic metal giants NIGHTWISH really do not need much of an introduction to the heavy metal community. Formed in Finland in 1996, the band has released seven studio albums to date and have toured the world over. Though Floor Jansen is the band’s third female fronted singer, the band has always managed mature with each new album, while retaining a core sound that is immediately recognizable. “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is the band’s eighth album; the first in four years and the first with Floor on studio vocals. Make no mistake, her voice is her own, and they didn't pay her to sound like the previous front women. She brings many qualities to the new album. In her soft and low range, there is a beautiful frailty, but do not mistake it for a lack of strength. When she goes high and heavy, she commands the upper ranges with all of the vigor of any seasoned singer. There is a lot to like here instrumentally as well, a veritable smorgasbord of sounds that cover nearly every point of the Metal musical spectrum. With that said, the songs are on point and there isn’t any circuitous meandering that can sometimes come with bands that have this much complexity and grandiosity. Though at the core, the symphonic orchestral sounds assert themselves fully in most of the compositions, but they are done in a way that supports the overall arrangement, rather than dominating in it. The first two tracks are just blistering. “Weak Fantasy” has a chorus that goes dark, deep and full throttle; as menacing as anything you will here in the genre, totally overtaking you with memorable melody and unbridled power and might. This is the signature zip and punch that you have come to expect with NIGHTWISH. Offering more in the gentler realm is the folky, unassuming pipes of “Elan,” where you are taken to the soft shores of Loch Ness, contemplating your life with a warm breeze at your back. “Our Decades in the Sun” is another introspective number that builds back and forth from the piano based opening with small additions of additional instruments, and is a song where Floor has an extended time to really showcase what she can do in the upper vocal ranges.

The title track, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful,” is an example of the complexity and depth of sound that I was talking about earlier, making full use of just about as many sounds as they can while keeping a tight core. The guitar and bass have a heavy presence here but are matched well by the big harmonies in the chorus. I especially like the majestic French horn passages in the final chorus. Another interesting quality about this album is that every song does not have to be bombastically symphonic. I will use “Edema Ruh” as an example of a song with that just has a catchy and enduring main melody but with nothing extra weighing it down makes it just as perfect as is. A good instrumental can tie in an album as a whole as well, and “The Eyes of Sharbat Gula” fill this role nicely. Superbly composed to be both unassuming but impactful at the same time, several methods of carrying the melody are employed, including flute, piano and chants. The final track is entitled “The Greatest Show on Earth.” If you are wondering if it sounds as magnanimous as it is labeled, the answer is most certainly “yes.” Clocking in at nearly twenty-four minutes long, it features a variety of twists and turns, and enough key and meter paces to occupy an entire album. Piano, cello and pipes set a frail mood opening the track, with rays of sunshine peeking through the staccato attack of the orchestra, which turn the skies black with anger. The combination is both haunting and ominous. We don’t hear vocals until nearly 1/3rd of the way into the track. When they arrive, we keep hearing that dichotomy of light and darkness throughout. Ending on the high note that they do is akin to something as powerful as the parting of the Red Sea, if you believe in that kind of thing. I would highly recommend the album on the strength of the final track alone. Epic does not really even begin to describe this orchestral masterpiece. Add in the rest of the tracks, and you have in my opinion the best NIGHTWISH album to date. The diversity and depth of complexity, coupled with just how fun it is to listen to the album is where the strength lies for me.

5 Star Rating

1. Shudder before the Beautiful
2. Weak Fantasy
3. Elan
4. Yours Is An Empty Hope
5. Our Decades in the Sun
6. My Walden
7. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
8. Edema Ruh
9. Alpenglow
10. Eyes of Sharbat Gula
11. The Greatest Show on Earth
Floor Jansen – Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – Keyboards
Marco Hietala – Bass & Vocals
Emppu Vourinen – Guitars
Jukka Nevalainen – Drums
Tony Donockley – Pipes, Flutes, & Whistles
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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