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Nightwish – Human:||:Nature Award winner

by Rachel Montgomery at 09 June 2020, 1:23 PM

NIGHTWISH needs no introduction. A household name in European Power Metal and seminal symphonic metal band, they formed in 1997 when Tuomas Holopainen, songwriter and keyboardist, came up with the idea with guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and former frontwoman Tarja Turunen, famously around a campfire (they use the campfire imagery in many of their songs). Twenty-three years, two vocalist changes, and worldwide acclaim later, they’ve released their ninth studio album, “Human:||:Nature.” A follow-up to their previous album, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful,” this album is an exploration of human desires whereas their last one was about the wonders of nature and science. With the exception of “Noise,” gone is the straightforward metal fare. These songs are beautifully composed and perfect for fans of the band’s more orchestral work.

The intro may seem long on the first listen. After listening to the second CD, it’s more understandable as an overture. For me, it feels like a continuation from “Endless Forms Most Beautiful,” going from the more primal undertones to the lighter, celestial-sounding ambiance on this album. However, I still wish they got into the meat of “Music” a little sooner, because once they do, it’s the delicious bombast we’ve come to expect from the band over the years. Floor Jansen’s voice flutters and soars through the song like an autumn leaf. As far as the next song, “Noise” is clearly the single, as it’s the closest thing to a traditional NIGHTWISH song on the album. It’s also one of the hardest on the first listen, so much so that you can’t notice that other songs like “Endlessness”, “Tribal,” and “How’s The Heart” have intense moments, too. True to the band’s form, their songs range from beautiful and ethereal, like “Shoemaker” and “Pan,” to heavy, like “Noise” and “Procession.” “Harvest” stands out, sounding more like the opening to a Disney movie than a metal track. Marco Hietala’s vocals are notably absent form a lot of this album except for the closing track “Endlessness” where carries the main verse and chorus.

Technically, the second album is one long song divided into separate movements, contrasting with the first one. It’s voiceless except for narration and choral chants, a chiasmus against the first album’s individual take on the human species. As far as the music, if you want to hear Tuomas Holpainen’s chops as a composer and have yet to check out “The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck,” here you go. Holopainen is a genius at compositional painting. My favorite thing about this band has always been their ability to invoke imagery just from a series of notes. “The Blue” seems to conjure a campfire at night, under millions of tiny stars. “The Green” is softer and the strings and soft piano invite me to a twilit grove. Some of their beats in “Moors” remind me of the instrumentals on their very first album. My favorite instrumental on the second track is “Aurorae”. It brings to mind a swashbuckling scene and I can hear the Disney soundtrack influence and the call to adventure. “Ad Astra” closes the album out and at this point, I expected the songs to be longer. That said, the ending, and the theme of the album that we are “a mote of dust” in space, hits home.

Of all the bands I’ve listened to, it’s been awesome to follow their growth. I’ve been listening from when they hit the US radar with “Once” to this point. I will say, the band’s transcended metal at this point and pushes it purely into classical territory. That’s not a bad thing, but unless you’re also a fan of classical scores, particularly soundtrack music, you may have a harder time getting into this one than their earlier work. Other than that, if you love the band’s more symphonic work, you will love this.

Songwriting: 10
Production: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10

5 Star Rating

Disc 1
    1. Music
    2. Noise
    3. Shoemaker
    4. Harvest
    5. Pan
    6. How’s The Heart?
    7. Procession
    8. Tribal
    9. Endlessness
Disc 2 (All The Works Of Nature That Adorn the World)
    1. Vista
    2. The Blue
    3. The Green
    4. Moors
    5. Aurorae
    6. Quiet As The Snow
    7. Anthropocene (including Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal)
    8. Ad Astra
Floor Jansen – Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – Keyboards
Marco Hietala – Bass/Vocals
Emppu Vuorinen - guitars
Kai Hahto - drums
Troy Donockley - Pipes, flutes & whistles & vocals
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Entertainment (US)/Nuclear Blast Records (EU)


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Edited 09 June 2023

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