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Nightwish - Imaginaerum CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.75 | 155 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Nightwish does a great job blending hard-hitting guitar riffs, entertaining compositions, choral arrangements, and symphonic instrumentation into a solid and approachable metal package. Imaginaerum is many things, and maybe tries to achieve too much during its running time, but pulls it off stylishly and memorably. It's all good, occasionally great, and sometimes excellent. Most appealing of all is the fact this group is doing something unique within a genre dominated by guitar-led soloists and men who sound like women.

The album opens with the winding of a music box which grows to an ever more lush and dynamic overture. It evokes sort of a sweeping orchestral feel that captures the imagination. And then the chugging begins. We're brought into the first real song "Storytime," an upbeat, energetic and riff-fueled rocker that has trombones blasting out hits alongside the drumming, and violins accompanying the female vocals, and epic walls of choir sound. There's a bit of cheese in there, but the overall effect is very enjoyable, and Nightwish does an outstanding job of giving the orchestra and choir something to do besides just support the band. In fact, I don't recall a single guitar or keyboard solo throughout the entire album. Heresy!

As things continue we're given moments of hard and heavy metal, folksy balladry, epic percussive moments, and emotive vocals. There is a lot of variety to be found here, a nice welcome compared to the typical prog metal fare. Here's a few examples:

"Slow, Love, Slow" is a mellow and lush ballad that has has a jazz-club feel, with brushed drum work and trumpets blowing away in the background. What a surprise, considering that the track before had harsh, throaty guitar riffing.

"Scaretale" is one of the better metal songs. It has a bouncy and stylish tone that makes it feel like something from an early Tim Burton film. It's heavy, quirky, and filled with hooks. Yeah it's a little silly, but the combination of vocalists and styles works well.

"Arabesque" is probably one of the standout tracks. It's an instrumental with an eastern flair that builds and builds and builds to a massive percussion finale that completely grabs hold of you.

"Turn Loose the Mermaids" begins with thoughtful balladry with acoustic flutes and piano that accompany the vocals... and then all the sudden we shift into the drums, violins, and trumpet fanfare of a spaghetti western. No I'm not kidding, and yes it is as fun as it sounds.

In being objective its safe to say that Imaginaerum will appeal to some more than others, but if you're interest in heavy music fronted by a first-rate female vocalist, or are a prog metal fan interested in something that stands out uniquely in a sea of Dream Theater soundalikes, this album comes highly recommended.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |


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