NIGHTWISH – Imaginaerum [bonus track] (2011)

“Imaginaerum” is the eagerly-awaited seventh album from the Finnish symphonic rockers NIGHTWISH, and is a companion piece to a feature film of the same name about an elderly composer’s deathbed reminiscences of his childhood.
According to the press info; ‘with the new album the band consciously wanted to do something different, so big, crossover, detailed, innovative and ‘nuts’ that it would leave the band, and hopefully the people experiencing it, completely awestruck.
It would be a situation where fans and/or critics would either love it or hate it, but they’d be left awestruck nonetheless.’

I don’t know if this new album is really ‘innovative and nuts’, still seems the Finnish combo are exploring a more commercial side, definitely with a catchy approach, and some new experimental sounds as well.
“Imaginaerum” is the second album to feature the band’s new vocalist Anette Olzon, who contentiously replaced the beloved Tarja Turunen in 2007, and sees her growing into her role, while the music is more theatrical, bombastic and melodic than ever before.

Starting with the wind-up toy lullaby “Taikatalvi” with flutes, choirs and symphony orchestra, this introduce us to the strong guitar riffs of “Storytime”, a commercial and pretty melodic song, the first single from Imaginaerum. Anette jumps in with her angelic yet very powerful vocals and then come to a calmer section featuring a peaceful choir and piano before we are hurled again into fast paced drums by Jukka which builds upon a now commanding full choir and massive guitar and bass.
“Ghost River” is a mid-tempo song with a very strong symphonical part in the middle with a child choir.
“Slow, Love, Slow” sounds unlike nothing I’ve heard from Nightwish before. Started with a piano and while I was waiting the song to kick in…well…it didn’t. Instead it changed totally. The best way I can describe this song is like, going to one of those bars in the 60′s, full of smoke and a on stage there is a woman in spotlight singing. This is the first experimental track and a radical change to Nightwhish standards.

“I Want My Tears Back” is probably the most ‘song’ structured track on the album in terms of simplicity of the verse-chorus mix. It’s very pacey with heavy guitars from the start with both Marco and Anette vocals.
“Scaretale” starts with a very creepy sounding nursery rhyme by the children’s choir build with the entrance of the orchestra before breaking into a fast paced wonder, with double bass drumming, punchy keys and aggressive vocal lines.
After the instrumental “Arabesque”, follows “Turn Loose The Mermaids” starting acoustically with Anette singing and pan-flutes on the background. This song overall had a very beautiful and balanced atmosphere.
“Rest Calm” ups the tempo with a nice guitar shredding, but in the middle part changed almost entirely to acoustic while Anette was singing with a child choir.
“The Crow, The Owl And The Dove” is a very gentle and melodic piece with some experimentation again.

On “Last Ride Of The Day” the band sounds for the first time on this disc as typical Nightwish from the very beginning to very end. Lots of choirs, strong riffs, melodic chorus, double bass drums.
The epic “Song Of Myself” is divided in 4 parts. It’s like a suite with different pace and styles, including chugging guitars but also reciting lyrics by different vocalists speaking the words over deep low strings. Interesting for sure.
Last song, the title track “Imaginaerum” is an instrumental ‘sympho-score’. It’s the song to be used at the end credits of the movie, where we get a big flurry of orchestra as an introduction and we hear the use of a delicate harp. In all an electrifying mix of orchestra, choir, pipes and the full band. I don’t know if fans will dig this one, but I actually pick this one and the bonus instrumental version of “Storytime” as highlights.

“Imaginaerum” is a long and varied album that goes through fast, heavy tracks to delicate and tranquil pieces taking Nightwish to a new level of composition and experimentation.
Not being fan of this band in the past, I found a new interesting music here to enjoy, more audacious and intriguing.
The band took their time to make this album and that really shows off. “Imaginaerum” has a very spooky soundtrack vibe and every detail is worked to the maximum.
Really interesting.

01 – Taikatalvi
02 – Storytime
03 – Ghost River
04 – Slow, Love, Slow
05 – I Want My Tears Back
06 – Scaretale
07 – Arabesque
08 – Turn Loose The Mermaids
09 – Rest Calm
10 – The Crow, The Owl And The Dove
11 – Last Ride Of The Day
12 – Song Of Myself
Part 1: From A Dusty Bookshelf
Part 2: All That Great Heart Lying Still
Part 3: Piano Black
Part 4: Love
13 – Imaginaerum
14 – Storytime (Instrumental) [bonus track]

Anette Olzon – vocals
Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards
Emppu Vuorinen – guitars
Marco Hietala – bass, vocals
Jukka Nevalainen – drums, percussion


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