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Nightwish - Dark Passion Play CD (album) cover



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4 stars This new Nightwish completely exceeds all expectations. The new vocalist, Anette Olzon, has a wonderful voice with excellent range. Nightwish fans will immediately notice that the album sounds different than previous albums, mostly as a reflection of the new vocal abilities the band possesses. That is not to say, however, that the new album lacks the power of the previous albums, but that the band does have a new sound. As with their previous albums, Nightwish makes extensive use of orchestra (The Dark Passion Play Orchestra) and choral vocals (the Metro Voices and Metro Voices Gospel Choir) to back up the hard-hitting metal guitars and passionate vocals. This album should certainly appeal to fans of Nightwish, as well as to fans of symphonic metal and metal in general. The lead-off track, "The Poet and the Pendulum", is an operatic piece with 5 movements, and is an excellent opening for the disc, as it sets the stage for the tracks to come. The third track, "Amaranth", is a driving piece that really shows off the bands instrumental and vocal abilities, and also has a very catchy chorus that fans should find easy to fall in love with. The sixth track, "Eva", is a powerful and moving ballad, and it is the first track that fully demonstrates Anette's vocal abilities. The first track on the album to feature male-only vocals, those of bassist Marco Hietala, "The Islander" flows with the traditional sounds of seaside villages and makes you feel as though you are sitting in a tavern in a small coastal town listening to an old sailor's tale. The album closes with "Meadows of Heaven", a stunningly powerful half-ballad featuring male and female vocals, heavy guitars, and an amazing orchestral score. As a bonus, those who purchase the collector's edition of the album receive an extra track on the first disc ("Reach", which is the demo version of "Amaranth") as well as a second disc, which is the entire first disc without vocals (instrumentation only). All together this is by far one of the best metal albums I have heard in a very, very long time. 4.5 stars (if they would let me)!
Report this review (#141603)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Okay, I finally feel that i have a good feel for this album after a bit over a week of listening at least once a day. First of all, I love Nightwish and I was worried that with Tarja's powerful vocals gone, the band wouldn't be very good anymore. However, the new vocalist, Anette Olzon, does not disappoint. She is much more of a standard rock singer than Tarja, but her voice fits the new direction Nightwish had been taking starting with Century Child. Outside of the vocals, this is quite possibly Nightwish's strongest effort musically. As much as I do miss the amount of guitar solos in the songs on recent albums, I find the orchestra to be very strong and also much more up front than it was on once, and this kind of makes up for the lack of guitar leads. First off, the album starts with "The Poet and the Pendulum", a 5 piece epic in which the band and orchestra are complemented by a choir and a male soprano. The song starts off in a very haunting fashion and builds up into a symphonic metal masterpiece with very emotional and depressing lyrics. This is a very cathartic song and I believe that it is the best the band has written as of yet. My other favourite song on this album is the instrumental "Last of the Wilds", which is their first since "Moondance" from Oceanborn. I believe that they outdid themselves this time, and wrote a very uplifting celtic metal tune, complemented by bagpipes, tin whistle, and fiddle. Several of the the songs on the album have this celtic feel, and i hope it is something they incorporate more into their music as time goes on. I will only give this four stars because i think some of the songs are not very strong. Firstly, "Sahara" is the obligatory eastern sounding track. Also, I do not like "Amaranth" all too much. Neither are bad songs, I just don't feel they are up to par with what they are capable of. It can also be noted that bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala plays a bigger role on this album and is given more space than before, and he even sings lead on two of the songs, those being the pseudo symphonic thrash number "Master Passion Greed", and the acoustic "The Islander", another of the songs with a celtic feel. Overall, a very good album and i am excited for what this band will do in the future.
Report this review (#143737)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A review about many things, some of which are the music on this excellent album, some of which are not.

A note about NIGHTWISH's album ratings, for those of you who care about such things. While fans have great respect for their debut album, 'Angel Fall First' is hardly their best work. It rates highest because it is generally rated only by fans, whereas the later albums are heard and rated by a broader cross-section of listeners.

Sometime after 'Once' the other four band members dismissed their charismatic and distinctive lead singer, TARJA TURUNEN. The public spat was acrimonious and it took the band some time to recover, and to select a replacement. The chosen singer, ANETTE OLZON, is a good replacement without having the dynamics of TURUNEN. How much will it matter?

Not. At. All.

NIGHTWISH's true power is in its songwriting and production, not in the vocals, good as they were. Within moments of the album's start we are reassured: things are fine, she can sing. Oh, but we are assured of far more than that, as the finest song the band has ever constructed bursts over us like a thunderstorm. 'The Poet and the Pendulum' is a 14 minute concept piece that is cinematic in scope, but in quite a different way to 'Ghost Love Score' from their previous album. It begins ominously, piano, orchestra and whispers, then explodes in stabbing chords reminiscent of much of their earlier work, but with even greater vigour. The instrumental lead-in is majestic, almost embarrassingly so: it takes a great musical moment to bring me out in a sweat, but I had to go change after one listen. Pushes all my buttons, I'll admit. But this song is much more than atmospherics. It has a genuinely great hook in the chorus, compelling fans to bellow along with the singer. This must have been enormous fun to write and play. NIGHTWISH continue to set new standards in the genre.

It's apparent that the singer doesn't have the power we're used to, but the band members have, with great care, created sonic space for her vocals, and have employed substantial backup for her. Within minutes we no longer miss the former vocalist. This is NIGHTWISH, not TARJA TURUNEN's backing band.

And there's still nine minutes to go in the opener! A gentle orchestral section, complete with soaring pure vocals, leads us back to the song itself, incidentally a tale adapted from Poe. I'm not a fan of the 'raped again and again' lyric - it jerks me out of the song every time - but I'll not quibble. Various sounds remind us of the song's cinematic pretensions. HIETALA gets to scream - this track has everything you could imagine - and the sound of the pendulum falling at exactly ten minutes is spine-tingling and signals the end - except for an etude or outro of over three minutes, simpler in style, reflective, allowing the listeners to check their pacemakers. Utterly satisfying. An album of this and I'll be in heaven.

One song over, and you just know the rest of the album can't compete. They've frontloaded the album as a deliberate statement to their fans - and their former vocalist - that they're still in business, bigger than ever. Righto, the next four songs are no match for the opener, but they're still outstanding, two of them about (surprise) their former vocalist ('Bye Bye Beautiful', in the style of 'Wish I had an Angel') and her husband ('Master Passion Greed'). No holds barred, raw, emotional and very intense. Five songs in and this is looking like an unmitigated triumph.

We've had over thirty minutes of pure passion, and 'Eva' gives us a rest. A chance for me to go change my shirt again. Fine, but the listener to this album struggles to rise from his/her metaphorical knees. Like 'Once' this album could have done with some judicious editing. There's just too much to digest! 'Sahara' is a powerful, eastern-influenced track, but already I need a rest: there's already been over 40 minutes of music. For the first week after purchasing the album I listened no further...

So here's my review on the second half of the album. It doesn't match the first, not surprisingly, but the band has been clever, nonetheless, to offer a variety of moods, to interrupt the diet of melodramatic metal music. 'Whoever Brings the Night' is another cinematic song, sounding like a score to '300', perhaps, or 'Van Helsing'. 'For the Heart I Once Had' is a welcome change, with quite a different rhythm, which is not to say it's outstanding; far from it. 'The Islander' is a celtic track, filling a similar role to 'Creek Mary's Blood' from 'Once', and is very satisfying, again without being spectacular. The instrumental 'Last of the Wilds' carries on the celtic theme, albeit with more power: to me it functions like the heavier second part of 'The Islander'. '7 Days to the Wolves' returns to symphonic metal, offering something almost as good as 'Ghost Love Score', and the album finishes with 'Meadows of Heaven', a powerful ballad. More than noteworthy on its own but both as a reviewer and listener it's hard to sustain the energy.

So have NIGHTWISH 'progressed' in three years? Yes and yes. They are even better now at what they do. They write compelling material. The album has a wider variety of styles. They have not fallen into the trap of over-soloing and retain a clear sense of what makes an excellent song. This album is comparable to 'Once' but also different in many ways - its more progressive, for one. It's not a repeat, in my view.

That said, I did struggle at times with this record. There's a lot to digest. I've had to divide the album in half to cope with it. HIETALA is given too many vocals, or perhaps the wrong sort. And the frontloading makes the album seem hopelessly lopsided.

In many other reviewers' hands a mixed review like this would accompany a four star rating. However, I've always rewarded brilliance. The opening sequence of this album is sheer, unimprovable brilliance - I want to award the full five stars - but I must discipline myself to award fewer than five stars. There are many albums I rate more highly, but none in the symphonic metal genre, with the possible exception of 'Once', their previous album. Get 'Once', and if you like that, get this.

Report this review (#143815)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Sound: One era ended in October of 2005 when the band gave the boot to the long time leadsinger Tarja Turunen, but now a new era has started, and Nightwish has relised a new album with their new lead singer Anette Olzon. Two singles later I thought that this album is gouing to be all around trash, and very easy to ignore. A ten lissens later haven't got the whole picture figured out yet. DPP has so many layers because allmost every song has massive orchestras backing the band. Tuomas Holopainen has made great collaboration's with London Session Orchestra and the Metro Voices Choir and it has payed up for this album. The album sound is Epic! The only thing that the orchestra takes away is the bands own saund with the guitars, drums and keybords. But it kinda works with Anettes vocals. //

Lyrics: The lyrics are a big factor in Finnish metal bands mainly because they can be humorist. Many mishaps that doesn't seam to work at all. Trying to be more mystical then they are. These lyrics can mean anything and there is a chance that I just don't get the obvious here but there is some clear references that anyone with a clear head wod notice. Like the Bye Bye Beatiful. A clear referense to Tarja Turunen and her departure from the band. And Master Passion Greed, song about Tarjas husband slash manager. All around the lyrics department is attleast ok. Some great pieces all over the record but hardly even one song with allthrough great lyrics. //

Impression: But how does it all come together? Allmost perfectly. Nighwish has made one of the best and somewhat surprising albums of 2007. Actually the departure of Tarja might have been the right thing for Nightwish to stay relevant after so many albums with a singer that had such a personal singing voice. Anette is a great singer. Not like Tarja but she has great tones in her voice that works well with the orchestras. Marco Hietalas vocals in the other hand make the bands playing sound better. Anette and Marco work really well together, and both have awesome solo songs. The overal apparence on the album seems to be way more personal then before with Tarja who's vocals ruled over the bands music. Band sounds more free then they have been in a long time. can't still understand why Eva is on the album? It totaly kills the Drive expecially when the album is so heavy and more then massive. 04 Cadence Of Her Last Breath in my opinion has the greatest hit potential and it's also one of the best songs on the album. No real mishaps exept for Eva, and that's guite amazing if you think that the album lasts over an hour. I recommend this album to everyone that's a friend of melodic metal or just interessed of what Nightwish has got for us now.

An epic album that really puts Nightwish back to the top of the popular symphonic metal bands. // 4.7/5

Report this review (#143872)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was crushed to hear the guys in Nightwish had left Tarja go. But, many times us fans do not know the whole story and predjudcied opinions and bias creep into our initial thoughts. Now that I work with people in various professional situations I can see how someone might become frusterated by anothers failures and arrogance. I am now more understanding.

The franchise known as Nightwish have done well by finding a beautiful, hungry, down to earth singer with a superb voice in Annette Olzon. Recently seeing the band live, having so much fun on stage and the wide eyes of Annette as fans yelled, "We love you Annette" and her subsequent tears, was a wonderrful sight. The girl has presence and can sing. The band....well they are just as GREAT as always. Only now, the drama and tension have left.

The new album, Dark passion Play is amazing. Right off, we get a monster epic much like Once's, Ghost Love Score. A few straight ahead prog rockers like Bye Bye Beautiful and Amaranth break the piece up but then it comes full circle with more incredible Nightwish magic.

This band is just amazing and I hope they continue to make great, emotional music in this same vein for years to come. They are a tremendous inspiration and treat to listent to. True eye candy.

Dark Passion play is the next stage for Nightwish and is a must have for nightwish fans or prog fans in general....

Report this review (#146040)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars New lead vocalist, new chapter. Are you satisfied?

The departure of lead vocalist Tarja Turunen right after "Once" world tour forced the band to find replacement for this front line position. It seemed that the band was suffering a great loss firing Tarja. One thing that I did not like was that the fact the band fired Tarja was made published by the band through their website and putting Tarja's at corner and no place to defend. It seemed like one-sided story from the four members of the band: Marco, Emppu, Tuomas and Juka all of them against Tarja. I have to admit that Tarja's operatic voice had become a critical characteristic of Nightwish music and could not imagine how the band would search for replacement of unique and distinctive talent of Tarja. But, finally the band hired Annette to replace Tarja and released this new album "Dark Passion Play".

Well, musically, I have to admit that the opening track "The Poet and The Pendulum" is a great track combining grandiose orchestra with its bombastic arrangements to merge beautifully with power metal music. The result is an extra-ordinary track. I don't even bothered by the fact that Annette's voice has in such a way operatic components or not. In fact, no, she does not have that operatic singing style. But, I still find this opening track is wonderful and very uplifting. In terms of melody, this is really a masterpiece. But when it's combined with its ear-catching opening part with female chanting / choirs and let the music moves in bombastic way to the top where the full blast orchestration makes the music in its top position! One of enjoyable part of this track is when Marco Hietala sings his metal voice elegantly - wow man ..!!! He is truly a metal man! I imagine the way he sings this part is like when he sings in "End of AN Era" DVD. It's so powerful and so metal!!!! What is also interesting is the ending part of this opening track that starts at approx Min 10:20 where the music turns differently into softer and mellow style and sounds like a pop song with nice voice of Annette. Oh man .. I love this track very much! I don't really care with the fact that Annette does not have "operatic" voice style. Who does really care if the composition is wonderfully crafted like this epic opening track? Are you going to judge this song inferior from one of the songs in "Once" album which you might consider superior? Give me a break, my friend! This composition has already killed me man! I am totally nggeblak! with this composition. Bravo Nightwish!! You rock man! And .. your orchestration does improve a lot!

The second track "Bye Bye Beautiful" kicks off wonderfully with a great combination of guitar riffs and keyboard followed with vocal line. What surprises me is the fact the voice of Annette is now changed to the style of Maggie Reiley (Mike Oldfield) or Sally Oldfield. This makes another new observation that things that were not possible in the past (during the era of 70s rock music, Maggie and sally were famous as female vocals in rock) and now (with different person) sounds like the sounds of 70s (vocal style) merge beautifully with metal music. The result is a wonderfully crafted track. Again, the part where Marco sings in metal style is truly an enjoyable part.

"Amaranth" starts symphonic with guitar riffs and keyboard at background. As far as music concerns this track is less attractive than the previous two tracks because this one is more poppy in style. It reminds me to the gothic metal band Within Temptation where the music is similar and the vocal is also female. "Cadence of her Last Breath" is heavier in its intro. The pulsating keyboard works demonstrates the symphonic nature of the track. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is attractive. "Master Passion Greed" starts with guitar riffs followed with tight drum works and keyboard punches. The music moves into faster tempo like power metal style followed nicely by guitar riffs in breaks. Marco's voice enters the music followed beautifully with choirs and Annette voice, interjected by grandiose string section. Marco continues his singing in screaming fashion. This song is strong in composition because there are many changes in styles and tempo plus excellent orchestration accompanying Marco's metal voice.

"Eva" is a mellow track with catchy melody and nice ambient. This track can chart as hit because the composition is simple but the melody is very strong especially when it's combined with nice guitar solo and excellent orchestration at background. "Sahara" opens excellently with symphonic orchestra followed with full blast of music in fast tempo. The song is good in textures as well as insertion of orchestra at the end of bars. "Whoever Brings The Night" opens with heavy guitar riffs followed with ambient keyboard sounds and drum work plus choirs followed with vocal of Annette. The tempo is quite fast and it has interlude where the music plays in its high tones with symphonic style in the middle of the track.

"For The Heart I Once Had" sounds like different style than other tracks because the guitar solo at the opening has no riffs at all and when the vocal enters, the music becomes empty until the voice is heating up. Again, the orchestration makes this song interesting to enjoy. "The islander" is even different because it's mellow in nature with flute sounds playing traditional notes augmented with acoustic guitar work. The male voice line does not represent typical Nightwish music. It's a trial basis of the band exploring other kind of music. "Last of The Wilds" has a traditional root as well but this time is followed with upbeat music style and riffs. It's an enjoyable track. "7 Days To The Wolves" brings back to the origins of Nightwish music with grandiose string section. The album concludes peacefully with "Meadows of Heaven" where the opening part is really catchy and memorable - string section followed with ballad singing by Annette. This mellow track moves beautifully to nice chorus and the instruments used, especially the notes created, remind us to the traditional music. It's truly a melodic song with nice choisr and orchestration.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. The music is beautifully composed by taking into consideration mostly on the making of melodies and later tight arrangements that support the melodies. And for this reason, I put respect to Nightwish. The only thing that pose the band into two different positions are: the fact that the major characteristic of the music which was "operatic" singing style has gone already and now the band enters new era where the music might sound very close like typical gothic metal like Within Temptation. But, for me personally, it's a good chance to open new chapter because in a way, enjoying this album is like opening new horizon of music that I have not heard before, precisely. This is especially with the fact that this album differs than any Within Temptation album so far. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#156907)
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An extremely exciting and enjoyable album from this Finnish band that successfully amalgamates a variety of styles, from heavy symphonic goth rock to folk-rock.

Some of the music on "A Dark Passion Play" is totally wonderful, some just very good indeed! The album begins with the majestic, totally brilliant "The Poet and the Pendulum", a 14-minute long opus that makes a huge impact with its symphonic heavy rock style. There's a number of different sections over the duration of the song, all very effective. It is inventive, melodic and very powerful. Anette Olzon's singing is heavenly and, on this song as well as a couple of others, strikingly offset against Marco Hietala's vocal. What a start to an album. Wow! Wow! Wow!

After such an exciting start it would be understandable if the quality reduced somewhat but no, the next song, "Bye Bye Beautiful", is equally good, although (like the remaining eleven songs on the album of a more conventional length for a rock album). The album continues at a high standard throughout, not always reaching the peaks of the first two tracks (which is understandable), without ever letting up on the highs. "Eva", about half way through, is another high point - slower pace, gorgeous lead guitar solo and a beautifully sung melody.

The last four songs develop in style to embrace aspects of folk-rock to great effect - In fact, the most overtly folk-rock of the four, "Last of the Wilds" is a wonderful shindig! It's fast, it's furious - it is a wonderful heady mix of fiddles, rock guitar, penny whistles and the like.

Incredibly the album finishes on a high, "Meadows of Heaven" being as good as the other highlights mentioned here. Magically embracing all of the musical elements already visited, it oozes class. Its melody is just so beautiful and so delightfully sung that you will want to be playing it over and over again.

Report this review (#162643)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars To clarify: The Poet and the Pendulum gets a full five stars - the rest of the album brings it close enough to four that I can't justify a five-star rating.

The Poet and the Pendulum is the first song, and wow is it an eye-opener - not to mention a heart-stopper, gut-wrencher and tear-jerker. This song evokes so many emotions so quickly, and I find it to be by far the most satisfying (and the most progressive) Nightwish song to date.

The rest of the album, with the exception of The Islander and The Last of the Wilds, suffers from repetetiveness, and the utterly relentless march of constant simple four-four timing. The only break from the head-jerking one-two-three-four-one-two-three-four are the two songs I mentioned above, which are in completely steady simple three-four timing. Oh well.

Individually, every song is either decent or very good - but the monotony of an entire album with the same rhythm nearly all the way through is too much for me.

That being said, the new singer is amazing in an entirely different way from Tarja - rather than powerful operatics, we have powerful rock singing. I find the change to be for the better, since it allowed additional blending of music with vocals.

Report this review (#168877)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the few bands whose inclusion here in PA I've ever questioned, NIGHTWISH have finally released an album that I can fully accept as belonging to the progressive-metal genre.

There's no need for my describing how this band sounds like or what their major influences are. The female-fronted, power-metal Finnish outfit is widely known around the globe and doesn't need an introduction.

This is NIGHTWISH's first album with their new vocalist, Annete Olzon, and while her voice may not be as powerful or wide-range as that of her predecessor, Tarja Turunen, I think it's safe to say that her inclusion in the band has helped to make it a better, more progressive group.

The reason lies exactly in the comparatively-lower range and power of Olzon. Now that Holopainen (the band's mastermind) has a more delicate and normal voice to work with, he has been forced to improve his songwriting, expand the array of instruments his music needs, and create songs that fit his vocalist as perfect as possible.

That's why, in "Dark Passion Play", we hear better songs. Unlike other NIGHTWISH albums, we are not bored after four or five repetive tracks here. All the tracks are good because they're varied, with lots of moods and tempos. A lot of atmosphere has been brought into the mix. The orchestration has been given much more emphasis and importance on this record. Melodies are better, choruses are better. To compensate for the lack of sheer power of Olzon's vocals, more male voices have been added, now taking close to 40 percent of the album's time.

The first sign of the quality and progressiveness of this new album by NIGHTWISH is the first song, without a doubt the best in the album. "The Poet and The Pendulum" amazes with its unusual structure, its heroic and memorable chorus, its energy, it's breathtaking musicianship. Probably the best song in the band's career. Other highlights are "Whoever Brings The Night" and "7 Days of the Wolves."

The musicianship as always is top-notch, as it's the crystal-clear recording. Olzon's clean, soft, tender and magical voice can be heard with clarity and the moments when she sings the most melodic parts of the record are excellent, of a rare power-metal beauty. Holopainen and the guitarist don't need to prove themselves, but they continue to impress.

All in all, this is NIGHTWISH's best album so far, and a welcome step towards progression. For the first time, I can say that this Finnish band really has created progressive-power-metal music.

With a few more songs in the vein of "The Poet and The Pendulum", we could be sure to give NIGHTWISH a 5 star rating. Let's hope the future is even proggier for the Finns.

Report this review (#173555)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After losing the thing that made them famous...

Well we prog fans are no strangers to line-up changes, but Nightwish losing Tarja Turuen is kind of like cutting the front two legs off of a dog (or something less violent if you'd rather). Many fans figured this would be the end of the band, but fear not! It's not so! Anette Olzon does an excellent job at taking over the helm. Her voice is a lot less operatic and actually a lot higher pitched than Tarja and it really lends itself well to the music here. Something also to note that really did well for the band is that since they weren't leaning on a spectacular vocalist (don't get me wrong, Anette is still good) they took more time in constructing orchestration and instrumental parts, meaning that it's not really power metal backed by an excellent opera singer. Indeed, with this release the band has truly turned prog while still keeping a foothold in the grounds of power metal. Once must have taught them something.

This album remains as the rest of the band's career has been - over the top. With a full orchestra to back them this time around the album gains a very full and very stage-like feel to it. While there's now a full blown prog epic on the album and a number of longer songs there's still some shorter tunes on the album that make for nice icing on the cake. It's too bad that the album isn't a concept album on the whole, since the concept pieces on their own work very well. Continued use of harmonized vocals make for a very larger than life feel when combined with the instruments and orchestration behind it and some of the songs just get so loud (not in volume mind you) that's it's hard not to get overwhelmed by the grandeur. Prog metal fans know all about this - but people not so much into prog metal may have a bit of a hard time with it.

The prog songs on the album really do dominate, it's too bad there aren't more of them. Right off the top we get an ambitious piece in the form of The Poet And The Pendulum, a 14-minute piece of work that really shows off just what the band can do. This really is prog metal in it's purest form with speed changes and excellent hooks that make you want more by the end. The other more prog songs on the album (the longer ones) maintain the over the top feel to it with choruses that really require the listener to be into the type of music. Hearing the chorus of voices scream out, ''Master passion greed!!'' (during the song of the same name) may not appeal to everyone, but those to whom it does will enjoy it greatly. Meadows Of Heaven is a pretty song that ends the album well, bring it to an emotion finish and 7 Days To The Wolves continues on the tradition of having everything over the top.

Of course there's also a number of short, more traditional power metal here, and it's quite in place. Following the opening tune Bye Bye Beautiful makes for a good rocker with a screaming chorus and a rocking riff. Sahara brings in an eastern feel and tell quite a story as does Whoever Brings The Night (the latter one about, shall we say... dancers, to put it lightly). The standout of the short songs are a couple of the less conventional ones. The Islander borders on a kind of prog-folk-metal in it's approach, it's more folk side dominating and making for a very satisfying tune. Last of The Wilds is a folk flavored instrumental very similar in style to another instrumental they did a while back by the title of Moondance (I think they even recycle a riff in there), but this new instrumental is simply powerful and makes for a great cut. The other standout is a very surprising one based in it's simplicity. Amaranth (the album's second single) is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Perhaps not every prog head will enjoy it quite as much, but in terms of power metal this is one of the best songs out there. A stellar chorus with a killer melody leads the way and while it may be untraditional for a prog-reviewer to say this - this song is great based in that it is so simple and yet it's hooks just make it so worth the listen.

The special edition of the album also comes with a second disc, ''orchestrated'' version of the album. This really is just the album again but with the vocals stripped out. Maybe they just didn't trust their new singer to capture their audience and included the disc just in case? Oh well. It's a good disc but not worth as many listens as the first one.

A great album for those who like prog metal but likely a good one for everyone else. This one is going to get 3.5 pendulums out of 5, but add another half star if you enjoy prog metal, Nightwish or power metal. Recommended! Maybe not as much as their previous offering, Once, but recommended none the less. Let's hope they continue on with prog material on their next album because they're getting really good at it!

Report this review (#177595)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Like everybody else I know who likes Nightwish I could not forsee the band without its former vocalist Tarja Tarunen. With an operatic, wide rage vocal, a charismatic and beautiful stage persona and a tremendous classical technique, Tarja was the face of Nightwish itself. When I heard she was fired from the band by the end of their Once world tour, it seemed it was all over. So much it took me all this time to gather enough nerve to hear their new release.

Well, if it is obvious that if Tarja was the face (and voice) of Nightwish, then keyboardsman and main songwriter Tuomas Holopainen is their heart and soul. His writing skills has developing steadily since their start in the late 90´s. And the band members were right to choose a singer that is quite different from their former frontwoman. Anette Olzon has a fine, non-operatic, voice that fits the new tunes like a glove (much in the vein of Within Temptation´s Sharon Den Adel). Her vocal prowness seems little when compared to Tarja´s amazing classical delivering, but she has a beautiful timbre and is quite versatile, able to handle the many moods those new songs demand. And they´re are quite demanding! She goes to sweet to agressive with ease.

The instrumental side of Nightwish was always a bit overshadowed by Tarja somehow. Now with Olzon, the vocals are more a part of the overall sound and in many ways it only improved their music. Bassist Marco Hietala is another great feature, showing he has a great vocal range too. The new songs are better than ever, showing a good improvement over the already fine Once. Nightwish always benefited with the use of real orchestra and choir on their latter records and Dark Passion Play is no exception. In fact, the orchestral arrangements are even more proeminent, bombastic and stronger than on previous records. And do they work!

This new album is surely their best since Oceanborn . It´s over 75 minutes of fine, varied, music. The CD opens with the epic 11 minute suite The Poet and The Pendulum and finishes with the beautiful and mellow Meadows Of Heaven. They gardened some folk and celtic influences this time, including such instruments as fiddle, pennywhistle and bagpaipes. One good exemple is the instrumental Last Of The Wilds and Hietala´s own song The Islander, in which the bassist sounds uncanny like Ian Anderson. Of course some tunes are better than others, but it has no fillers and the tracklist is very well chosen. Production is also top notch.

Conclusion: Quite a rebirth! One of the best prog metal albums in many years. Highly recommend! 4,5 stars.

Report this review (#180550)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I was a bit of a fan of Nightwish before I got this album. I had enjoyed listening to a lot of their stuff on the internet, and I could tell that quite a bit of it had some demanding musicianship to it. I figured I should get one of their albums, so I went for their latest one. I had known from looking up some stuff about the band that they had changed vocalists, but I was sure that the band wouldn't make too drastic of a change from their operatic singer Tarja. So I got this the next time I got to a shopping mall.

I put this in the CD player of the car and got ready to listen. I had known that the first track was a long one, so I figured it must be an epic like Ghost Love Score which went through several themes and moods and was absolutely fantastic. But once the drums came in on The Poet and the Pendulum, it felt like an average goth/alternative/rock song with a medium tempo 4/4 beat. Nothing special. The song continued, and I was apalled. This is a 13 minute song, and it's relying on pop hooks! Nothing grandiose or epic happens in the whole 13 minutes of this one. Granted, it's not the same chord progression over and over, so it happens to be a good long track, just not a great one.

The next couple of songs come on. More pop hooks, more distorted guitar that is prominent enough in the mix even to be called close to metal. Basic verse and chorus structures. The new vocalist sounds like some pop solo artist in front of a run of the mill alternative band. Nothing sticks out at all. Master Passion Greed sounds promising at the beginning enough to be at least a good metal song, but then it goes back to sounding like a regular old goth song. Eva breaks up the mediocre mid-tempo tracks to give the listener a mediocre slow-temp track instead. Yes, it is a pretty little song, but compared to Nightwish tracks in the past, it pales. It then goes back to the mid-tempo tracks.

There's a couple of songs saving the album from going entirely unlistenable. The Islander is a lovely track with maybe a drop of Celtic ballad influence. Marco, the bassist finally gets to kick the new dissapointment of a singer Annette into the background while he sings beautifully, this is the long forgotten light at the end of the world. They continue in the vein of this song by following it up with the instrumental Last of the Wilds another fairly good track. Again, you don't hear Anette's voice, possibly one of the reasons that this is one of the few listenable tracks on the album.

The next track, 7 Days to the Wolves goes back to the pop-like styles of the previous songs. The only difference is that the bridge section has a different tempo than the rest of the song, but the instrumental break really doesn't go anywhere.

Meadows of Heaven is a bit of a step up from a few of the songs. It's another ballad, starting off with a quiet pop/orchestral type background and ending the album on a pseudo gospel type ending. I guess this was probably one of the best ways to end the album. Nothing all that great, but better than most of the tracks on the album.

Overall, this is just a regressive step for Nightwish. This album is basically a pop album with pseudo heavy guitar and pseudo symphonic orchestra behind it. Nothing special.

Report this review (#180566)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Dark Passion Play' - Nightwish (8/10)

'Dark Passion Play' is in a sense; the debut album of a 'new' Nightwish, a Nightwish robbed of their main trademark; the operatic antics of their frontwoman Tarja Turunen. Keeping this in mind, the metal world's ears were very open, and very cynical when this came out. Personally, I had never been too much of a fan of the band's music, and especially without their operatic grace, I wasn't sure I was going to like this... but I do, and I like it alot.

To put it simply, this is more than a collection of songs that are testing the waters for Ms. Anette Olsen (an amazing female vocalist, who while not having the distinction of Tarja's soprano, is very accomplished and has a beautiful voice that fits the music even better than her predecessor) but a full-on piece of genius. The main composer, Tuomas Holopanien (who is in my mind; a musical genius in his own right) has brought on an entire orchestra to the band's sound. While this isn't quite new to Nightwish ('Ghost Love Score' off of 'Once' for example; was very immersed in a symphonic sound) no time before has the band gone so far deep into a true symphonic territory.

I have to say, there were moments here where I was convinced I was listened to a complete symphonic metal masterpiece. Even beyond the obviously masterful epic 'The Poet And The Pendulum,' there are parts on here that are breathtaking.

The only problem with the album is that somewhere after the ballad 'Eva' and before 'The Islander' kicks in, there is a fair period of mainstream boredom that really hurt my overall appreciation of the album. The musical quality is obviously quite good seeing as there are orchestral arrangements throughout, but I will compelled to give the album a less-than- perfect score simply because of a sustained period where the album really takes a nosedive.

The album is certainly noteworthy however. The epic on the album 'The Poet & The Pendulum' is a masterpiece of music. Over the course of thirteen or so minutes, the listener to taken on a dramatic and powerful journey. It's one of the greatest epics I've ever listened to, and by far the greatest suprise on this album. 'The Poet & The Pendulum' really opened me up to the album.

The 'hit' on the album 'Amaranth' is also really good, and catchy. It shows the tasteful flavour of Anette's voice, and her voice really works well to mold any musical mood at her will.

Lastly, the folk-infused 'The Islander' is a very powerful acoustic song. It's the sort of song that would be best listened to curled up beside the log fire. There is a real feeling of 'storytelling' going on here that is trademark of folk, and the male vocals work very well in contrast with Anettes.

I think despite the weaker tracks, this album could have been a real masterpiece. While I have nothing against individual songs, I think the album (having such an epic sound to it) would have really benefitted from having a album-encompassing concept to it, such as Pain of Salvation's 'Be' record, or Kamelot's 'Epica.' As it stands however, 'Dark Passion Play' is a fantastic record, and hopefully a sign of good things to come from this talented Finnish band.

Report this review (#225251)
Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I didn't knew Nightwish was consider prog, I never thought that, but now I can help some people to get into this good and interesting band... this is a surprising album, a great comeback, like a reborn for this great band...

Everybody was little afraid about Tarja's departure, I didn't care too much because I wasn't fan from them but one friend give me this album and said that I should like it, and he was right... so, lets see the review:

This is not an operatic album, it's a symphonic metal piece with good flow, great melodies and catchy choruses... the operatic powerfull voice is gone, there's a pop singer leading this band and bringing a softer texture to the songs, which is good because it's easier to sing along with... the music remains the same, with his great keyboard player compossing great songs, but BTW, I don't like that a band don't compose music but just a single mind but well, the result is quite good, and you will find yourself singing over and over those fancy lines in "Bye Bye Beautiful", "Amaranth" "Sahara" and "The Islander"... well, I can say that the 80% of the album is very catchy, sometimes cheesy but good enough to appriciate it...

The instrumentantion is good, the symphonic arrangements are sometimes very ambicious but the bad thing is that Holopainen is a good keyboard player but cannot play the whole thing live, so is quite dissapointing of using sequencing but of course, nobody is expecting him to be Jordan Rudess, so I can live with it... Musically Nightwish has not loose nothing with the departure of Tarja, they sound tight, heavy and good... of course, there's no show off or soloing but just a great assamble of good players... I even feel that Anette Olzon fits better in NW... they gain more pop accebility by not loosing the musicianship... Tarja also sounds great on her solo album, so I think the fans win much more by both now their are separate...

If you like Symphonic metal, this is the album for you... get it, for me it's an excelent prove from what is quality rock with great melodies... 4 stars without any doubt -the remaining star I don't give it cause I doubt this is essential for prog- but it's great...

Report this review (#250376)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Eyeliner and leather capes sold seperately.

When it comes to symphonic metal, we are spoiled: Ayreon, Evanescence, Epica, Kamelot, After Forever and Within Temptation are legion wanting to grab a piece of the very lucrative genre. But let's be honest, the pionneers of the gothical emporium are certainly Nightwish: the guys look mean, the singer is a fan of bondage and leather redingote, everybody has eyeliner and a black cape. The marketing is set, our standardists are waiting.

But jokes aside, has a very efficient recipe to make your foot tap: super catchy choruses, huge and lushious orchestration topped by guitars with bite. This works for me, despite the obvious target of reaching a younger generation of romantic cravings. Eh, what do you want? A girl's gotta eat.

Every teen will find something to chew on, from orchestral romance to heavy passages to poppish songs like the very popular Amaranth. But something that got me is the celtic songs at the end of the record (Last of the Wilds for example). They' re well written and done with surprising virtuostiy, catchy and varied, those instrumental sections are welcome in a very condensed and heavy album.

Done a gazillion time since 10 years, this genre has been seriously exploited in the past by many, many, many artists. Similar to blend of Ayreon and Loreena McKennit, Nightwish's Dark Passion Play is probably the best bet to have your money's worth.

Perfect for Twilight movie lovers.

Report this review (#256456)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars After Nightwish kicked Tarja on to a dark and cold street, for no reason, basically because Tuomas is a bit whiny, (but like Morrissey, he does make some great music.) they started to make this album, while looking for a lead singer, who they found in a bin probabbly (Anette Olzon, they probabbly didn't find her in a bin, it was proabbly Tk Max or something).

To be honest, I think they knew that criticism would attack them from every corner. But how do you combat the criticism...with a great album of course. And did they succeed...obviously.

This album was actually suprisingly amazing. There was some meh meh moments, but the music did make up for it. Unlike the last album, the heaviness was toned down and the orchestra was turned up (still not Within Temptation...has anybody thought of giving Within Temptation this album in order to show them how to produce an album the right way).

The new singer isn't as good as Tarja, but to be honest, not many people are. She is a great singer and she is very good looking (well if she was a boot, I don't think anyone would like them anymore).

1. The Poet & The Pendulum - Well can you match Ghost Love Score, ICS Vortex you can. This song is beyond epic. It makes other symphonic metal bands cry. The soprano vocals, performed by Aled Jones (not really). The orchestra is amazing and it even reminds me of a film soundtrack. It's also very dramtatic. It's so dramatic that it made Peter Gabriel shed his skin, or scales, or whatever he is made of now. Yea, I'm being too funny. The lyrics are also very good, but I don't think the word rape should be used in a song, unless it's that song from Hamlet 2, "Raped In The Face".

2. Bye Bye Beuaitful -Tuomas, please, get over it. This song is amazing, but still, Tuomas is still cranking over Tarja, she's gone, get over it. The video also made no sense, why did you replace the guys with girls, it's so cheesey, Whitesnake did a parody of it. All in all, it's a still very catchy.

3. Amaranth - Annete's vocals are really shown off in this song. When I first heard this song, I didn't think it was that catchy, but it is incredibly infectious. Amazing song, incredibly remerable.

4. Cadence Of Her Last Breathe - This song is about Tuomas wishing that Tarja was dead. GET OVER IT... It's very catchy and the artwork which shows Tarja holding a butterfly was just stupid. If you are trying to hide the meaning of the it better.

5. Master Passion Greed - This song is about how Tuomas hates Tarja's husband. I'm just not gonna say anything.

6. Eva - Finally, the Tarja bashing is over. Back to songs about... homless... children. How depressing can you be? It is incredibly beautiful and the arrangement is great.

7. Sahara - Very epic and catchy. As long as it's not about Tarja.

8. Whoever Brings The Night - A song about prositutes. Why is there always a song about sex, Tuomas really needs to get lobotomised. Still a great song.

9. For The Heart I Once Had - A nice ballady song with a great chorus and an amazing vocal performance from Annette. :)

10. The Islander - A song about Tarja being on Lost, not really but I wouldn't be suprised if it wasn't. Very catchy and very nice. Great vocals from Marco, and I like the Uilean Pipes.

11. Last Of The Wilds - I have played this song, so many times, on nearlly every instrument known to man. I actually skipped this song, cause it already is playing in my head, even now.

12. 7 Days To The Wolves - Very epic and great riff. The chorus is also very catchy and memorable.

13. Meadows Of Heaven - A nice ballady song to end the album. And every band, at some stage, will end up using a gospel choir, It's called the Simon Cowell disease.

CONCLUSION - This album is great and really made critics stand up and applaude, but really awkwardly, like in a teen movie. Although, like every lyricist, Tuomas lyrics are getting worse, e.g. John Petrucci, Steve Harris, Mike Portnoy. Buy it, it's an amazing album.

Report this review (#260959)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars The loss of Nightwish's previous singer was sad, and I was looking forward to a new beginning with the Finnish band. When Dark Passion Play came out, I quickly got a copy. The Poet and the Pendulum opens the album with a nice vocal part by the new singer, Annete Olson, and then the musical masterpiece begins. The band, which is known for great symphonic pieces, lacks no symphonic sound here. The whole 13 minute epic is a great listen. Throughout the entire album, symphonic magnificence and musical wonder permeates. Olzon will have a great career with the band.

My favorite songs:

- The Poet and the Pendulum - Bye Bye Beautiful - Master Passion Greed - Sahara - Whoever Brings the Night - Seven Days to the Wolves

Report this review (#285141)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though Nightwish music is always a bit too heavy metal for my tastes, I cannot help but admire their incredible musical constructs, the amazing talents of their lead singer(s), and the immense scope of their to involve orchestra. If you're okay with the heavier side of prog, I highly recommend all Nightwish albums. if you are a bit turned off by over-the-top theatric metal productions, at least give this one a chance. To me, this is much more enjoyable than Aryeon/Arjen Lucassen projects--more polished, cohesive and perhaps even ambitious, too. Or even try out the first and last songs, "The Poet and The Pendulum" (13:55) (9/10) and "Meadows in Heaven" (7:10) (9/10). Then judge. Beautiful arrangements, that's for sure.
Report this review (#377657)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would like to be clear from the beginning on. I always had one single problem to get an approach to Nightwish and this problem was called Tarja Turunen. From an objective point of view, I am able to admit that she has without a doubt a very powerful and professional voice but I always thought that she was singing way too theatralic, too exagerated and without true emotions or feelings. Don't get me wrong, I listen to operas and symphonies and I adore bands or projects like "Therion", it is not a question of style but a question of convincing joy. Tarja Turunen didn't even know anything about metal when she joined the band, she never spent time with the other band members, she didn't really write some lyrics or something else for the band's purpose. In my opinion, she was always just there because she was a talented singer and while I appreciated the passionate music of Nightwish, I was never able to feel the same passion in the voice of the egocentric ice queen.

That's probably the reason why I saw the departure of Tarja Turunen as a new chance to identify with the music of Nightwish. One of my best friends, an absolute Nightwish fanboy who adored Tarja Turunen and who had almost every single, every vinyl version and special edition of each Nightwish release, had the opposite reaction. He still bought the "Amaranth" single and the "Dark Passion Play" album, listened to it a few times and never touched it again. He felt very disappointed and the band died ultimately for him with the departure of Tarja Turunen. For me, Nightwish really got born with the new singer Anette Olzon.

She is more natural, more human and she seems to enjoy what she does and you can feel it. She has maybe not the grace and the talent of Tarja Turunen, but she has more power and emotion and she does a convincing job on this new album. Finally, there was not everything focused on the singer in this band and this occasion was used by the musicians to improve and do more complex, progressive and diversified compositions than ever before.

You have a big variety of styles and genres on this record. Of course there are symphonical elements throughout the whole album, especially in "The Poet And The Pendulum". There are many fresh folk influences on this album like on "Last Of The Wild" and the use of Uilleman Pipes, Kanteles or whistles is quite present on this record. The band's typical power metal influences are also present in most of the songs for example in "The Poet And The Pendulum". There are also some death or thrash elements as on "Master Passion Greed". "Bye Bye Beautiul" has some Industrial Metal vibes and sounds very modern. Operatic ghospel influences can be found on "Meadows Of Heaven". Pop music influences in the key of ABBA that especially influenced the new singer Anette Olzon can be found on "Amaranth". Slightly Gothic influences can be heard on "Cadence of her last breath". Useless to say that the production of this record is brilliant and that the booklet is truly beautiful, artistical and inspiring.

All these styles, influences and ideas are bound together as a whole and well working and diversified album. From the soft, tender and breakable ballad like "Eva" to the most aggressive song ever of this band that is "Master Passion Greed", Nightwish deliver a fresh amount of creativity and nevertheless, the album has its own personal style and flow and Anette Olzon already shows that she has a very special and unqiue voice. Maybe not an outstanding voice like Tarja Turunen, but after a few lines, you can be sure to recognize her and can identify her very own style and different approach to the Nightwish songs. As I have even seen the band live in concert with her, I can only underline that she gives a new, a second life to the old Nightwish tunes. And I must congratulate the band to their hoice to a take a new kind of siner and not a copy of what has been done and seen before. Many fanboys are whining and still shouting Tarja's name during the concets but this was the best choice to be made. Anette Olzon is unique, different and a new chapter has been written.

What about the songs? Well, I think that Nightwish offer some of their best tracks ever on this record. Even the weaker ones like the pop ballad "For The Heart I Once Had" are at least catchy and easy to appreciate, but the true masterpieces are songs like diversified, dramatically and emotionally convulsing opener "The Poet And The Pendulum", the very calm down to earth acoustic folk song "The Islander", the brilliant and magic instrumental "Last Of The Wilds", the operatic and darkly powerful "Seven Days To The Wolves" as well as the progressive and symphonical ballad "Meadows Of Heaven" with its brilliant grand fianle with a ghospel choir. Add to that a very catchy "Bye Bye Beautiful" that reminds a little bit too much of "Wish I Had An Angel", the unforgettable smash hit "Amaranth" that you can't get out of your mind once you have lsitened to it, the haunting and most Gothic song on the album which is "Cadence Of Her Last Breath", the brutal and straight "Master Passion Greed", the very calm, dreamy and inspiring ballad "Eva" where Anette Olzon does an outstanding job and the oriental and somewhat exotic "Sahara" which is one of the less convincing songs. every song offers something special and unforgettable and even if there are two weaker songs, there is no single filler but many great killers on this record. My favourite one is the epic, personal and very atmospheric "The Poet And The Pendulum" that somewhat reunites the diversity of styles and creations on this record in one single outstanding song. This is the kind of song you just write once in a life time.

I didn't expect that much from a band that was rather difficult to approach for me but they delivered an outstanding masterpiece. I bought the album and lsitened to it over and over again and tried out the old stuff again but didn't feel the same passion and magic in it. I decided to see a concert of the band which was probably the best concert of the year 2007 for me. I am really looking forward to the next record they are creating right now. Nightwish has got a brand new and enthousiastic fan. And for the Tarja fans: Even if you may dislike Anette Olzon's voice which I would understand and tolerate (even if she merits a second chance from anyone), you can't deny the class of the compositions, of the music on this record and that's why extremely low rating are completely subjective nonsense. At least, you can listen to the instrumental CD of the special editions that has been especially created for you and then you can imagine the voice of Tarja. And please don't shout "Tarja, Tarja" during the concert. That woman has got a new band where you might do this and where you might not risk to get knocked out.

Originally published on on December 21st of the year 2010.

Report this review (#379147)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Symphonic Power metal with Celtic flavours...

With Tarja being moved on in a whirlwind of Gothic dust, Anette Olzon joined Nightwish and injected a new passion and enthusiasm to the band. This amazing album begins with a 13 minute symphonic metal epic, with Anette sounding crystal clear and emotional among all the orchestral strings and grinding distorted guitars.

'The Poet and the Pendulum' certainly opens this release in a blaze of glory, with massive crescendos and some absolutely sumptuous strings. There is a passage of high octave vocals like an angelic choir layered over dreamy cello and synth strings, and the odd harp glissando. This is ultra dramatic music with some hyper orchestrations and downright chilling soundscapes. The violins are frenetic at one point and are joined by galloping metal riffs and a tirade of percussion and bass. Marco adds some growling vocals but they are not too intrusive. It ends with gorgeous vocals, dreamy piano and symphony. Overall, this is one of the greatest Nightwish songs in their extensive catalogue.

'Bye Bye Beautiful' is a fan favourite, featuring a heavy driving beat and an emphasis on the aggressive vocals of Marco. I prefer the female vocals and a more melodic approach with Nightwish. One of the most popular songs of recent years is 'Amaranth' which is rather heavy in rhythm and very melodic, with Anette adding just the right amount of grandeur to the wall of symphonic sounds. The choppy riff of Emppu's guitar on this track is excellent and it has an innovative structure ranging from bone crushing riffing to gentle piano by Tuomos.

'Cadence of Her Last Breath' has a pulsating rhythmic riff and more stabs of orchestra. Anette's voice is multi tracked and harmonised well with the gritty distortion and omnipresent strings. There is a thrash feel in 'Master Passion Greed', perhaps one of the fastest and heaviest, with Marco dominating on verses and then a mixture of symphonic and Anette joining him in the chorus. Jukka's drumming is supersonic in places and really drives along powerfully.

'Eva' begins with soft piano, strings and woodwind, and Anette really serenades with sweet tones. This is Nightwish in their melancholy mood, and they are able to provide some emotional moody scapes of immeasurable beauty. 'Sahara' is another melodic rocker that is a grower. The chugging riffs return with 'Whoever Brings the Night' sounding dark and more prone to a metal sound. The chorus builds with some intriguing choral vocal intonations and strings.

There is Celtic flavour present in 'The Islander' with flute, acoustics and stormy effects. Marco uses clean vocals and sounds a bit like Guy Manning. The theme that is concentric on a sea voyage further augments the Celtic sound. The albatross even makes an appearance, along with watery ghosts, bringing to mind the legend of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It builds to a twin violin solo and is very different to other Nightwish tracks and stands out as a result.

'Last of the Wilds' is an instrumental that follows seamlessly with more thunder and Celtic flute and violin, though the metal riffing guitar returns to up the tempo and atmosphere. I really like this side of Nightwish with the compelling music mixing folk prog with heavy guitars; it works so well. Emppu's lead break is a welcome embellishment along with some fragrant flute and tinkling keyboards.

'7 Days to the Wolves' is next and I expected some heavier material after all the Celtic flavours, and was not left waiting long. The drums pound heavily and then a metal riff crunches in with some violin serrations, sounding like Rammstein. Anette is back on harmonised vocals and Marco joins her later as the sound gets heavier. A lead break is heard briefly and then after a chorus the song breaks into a new time sig with some dramatic violins and faster drums. This is a terrific passage of music, and is augmented with more vocals but the song has changed, until it moves back to the measured rhythm; a great song reminding me of the style of Ayreon in places.

The last track is 'Meadows of Heaven' opening with melancholy strings and Celtic flute again, which really sounds dreamy and peaceful. Anette is sensuous on crystalline vocals, and this builds to a grandiose orchestration creating a wall of sound with the band at their most bombastic and emotionally charged.

Overall, this is a quality release from Nightwish, showcasing the new talents of Anette Olzon and focussing on symphonic orchestrations throughout. Some of the tracks are masterpieces such as the opener, and others seems to glide by unnoticed such as for the poppier 'For The Heart I Once Had'. The Gothic element is omnipresent and it is consistent in terms of quality musicianship, providing enough balance between metal and symphonics. I was very impressed with "Dark Passion Play"; an enjoyable listen with some tracks worthy of the bands' growing reputation as leaders in Symphonic metal.

Report this review (#778083)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Dark Passion Play is artistic power metal in the first degree, bursting at the seams with sweeping compositions, massive guitar riffs, orchestral flair, and a bit of camp. It'll delight prog-metal lovers and repulse everyone else... what more can you ask for!

The album opens with "Poet and the Pendulum", a 13-minute epic that pretty much defines the band's sound and takes you on a theatrical journey which throws together numerous tempo and mood changes, as well as a variety of vocalists and instrumentation. It's a huge song with irresistible hooks, riffs, and emotional bits; a killer track.

Nightwish is known in part for its feminine vocals, distinguishing it from other prog metal bands and providing a host of new textures and sounds to explore. Anette Olzon does a wonderful job throughout, though I don't think her voice is as beautiful or as prominent a component as some other reviewers. Because so much of her singing uses long sustains, it actually comes off as sounding bland. However, when paired against gruff, traditional metal vocals of Hietala - and especially when sung over the outstanding instrumentals, the overall effect is very enjoyable; more so than many other female-fronted metal bands out there. If you like metal, but are turned off by metal grunts and growls, you'll be pleased by Nightwish's combination of singers.

The orchestra is also well-implemented, providing emphasis, textures, and sometimes taking the spotlight to create drama and scope to the songs. As if the powerful guitar and bass weren't enough! The excellent drumming by Nevalainen completes the fully metal crushing that Nighwish accomplishes. However, one thing I appreciate a lot about Nightwish's songwriting is that they don't set the dial to 11 and leave it there. There is a lot of acoustic moments, and even some folksy diversions to keep the effect fresh and exciting. "The Islander" is the standout showcase of this style, a sea-shanty style song that does an amazing job of evoking the misty shores of Ireland with its celtic feel.

So, if you're into prog metal, and can stomach more than a bit of excess, you'll find a ton to like with Dark Passion Play.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#1430828)
Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars While I believe that "Imaginaerum" was the ultimate expression of vocalist Annette's collaboration with NIGHTWISH, "Dark Passion Play" really laid the foundation for the new and more progressive metal style with accent on progressive. Here we find the band at times awkwardly morphing from balladeers to untamed wild, which dampens the impact of the nonetheless impressive opening epic and several other tracks. Growly vocals and chugging heavy guitars don't do much for me although I do appreciate the potency of cuts like "Whoever Brings the Night" when Annette sings. Of course ballads like "For the Heart I once had" and "Eva" are majestic. The trouble is that the band sometimes seems gripped with an irrational fear of becoming the CARPENTERS, so they crank up the generators and go full tilt, culminating in a betwixt and between blend.

Still, the Pip Williams conducted orchestra and the gospel choirs add gravitas and cinematic buzz to tracks like "Sahara". A guest appearance from piper Troy Donockley formerly of IONA, who later joined NIGHTWISH full time, injects a Celtic veracity to the Tull-like "The Islander", which offers an Anderson-like vocal performance from Marco Hietala. It even sounds like something KERRS PINK might have done in their less cluttered past incarnations. Donockley also splashes the exquisite closer "Meadows of Heaven" in which the band and Annette really appear to have fused.

As you can tell, I'm a bit mixed on this one but that's not to say there aren't plenty of passages that genuinely excite. Overall, it's a positive effort that just needed a few years to work out the kinks, which they did on "Imaginaerum". 3.5 stars rounded down.

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Posted Saturday, February 3, 2018 | Review Permalink

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