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Nightwish - Dark Passion Play CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.81 | 202 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
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!

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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