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Nightwish - Imaginaerum 3/5

Reviewed: 2-1-12


1. Taikatalvi
2. Storytime
3. Ghost river
4. Slow, love, slow
5. I want my tears back
6. Scaretale
7. Arabesque
8. Turn loose the mermaids
9. Rest calm
10. The crow, the owl and the dove
11. Last ride of the day
12. Song of myself
13. Imaginaerum

For several years Nightwish was one of my favorite bands and they had a big impact on me getting even more into power metal and establishing Metal CD Ratings. I loved their amazing symphonic power metal style, and ex-vocalist Tarja has been my favorite female vocalist for over a decade. Those close to me know that I really struggled with her firing (later replaced by Anette) prior to the release of their previous CD 'Dark passion play', and while there were times when I enjoyed 'Dark passion play' and felt it was excellent, I gradually began to dislike the CD more and more, and these days I don't listen to it at all - mainly because of the vocals. When my dislike for the CD started I figured it was because I couldn't listen to the band without Tarja. Over the last few years however, I've learned that I have more of a problem with WHO replaced Tarja, rather than the fact that Tarja's gone. Bluntly, I'd put Anette near the bottom of the list of all of the female vocalists I've heard. There's no doubt the metal world is split on whether Tarja or Anette is the better vocalist (so it's a matter of taste, I guess), and you can definitely put me on the side leading the charge for Tarja.

Because of the feelings I've had about Nightwish for the last few years, I initially wasn't overly excited for their highly anticipated (by others) 'Imaginaerum', but I did go into it with a positive attitude and open mind. It took only a few spins to realize it doesn't come close to matching any of their previous CDs though. For starters, the uncohesive mix of styles both musically (everything ranging from jazz, to folk rock, to power metal) and vocally does nothing to help Anette's performance, and there's only a handful of moments where she sounds decent. I must admit that I don't really care for Marco's vocals either these days, especially when he's screaming. I actually wouldn't even call the overall vocal department average (below average instead), as there are many spots on the CD where the vocals are truly awful.

In addition, the CD is way too slow, way too long (since it's also too slow), and there is hardly any speed - just a few brief moments in track 6 "Scaretale" and track 11 "Last ride of the day". There are still some songs I'd call great though: where the music is strong and the vocals are decent, and they are the catchy track 2 "Storytime", the folky "I want my tears back", the fairly memorable track 9 "Rest calm", the powerful track 11 "Last ride of the day", the lengthy track 12 "Song of myself" (only the first half is well done however), and the instrumental track 13 "Imaginaerum". The rest of the songs are okay at best and some are plain bad; the painful chorus on track 3 "Ghost river" stands out in a bad way, as does the weird and boring-as-hell track 4 "Slow, love, slow". So 6 out of the 13 songs are great, but for a band with this much popularity and experience, that just doesn't cut it.

Since the band has made some drastic changes over the last 4 or 5 years (especially vocally), I can guarantee that fans are now divided on whether their early or recent CDs are the best. There will certainly be some that agree with this review, and certainly some that don't - in a big way. All I can say is that for me personally, the band has been heading downhill since the loss of Tarja, and while some great songs on this CD make it "above average" when compared to the rest of the metal world, there's no doubt in my mind that it's the band's worst to date.




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