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Nightwish - Human. :ǁ: Nature. CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.69 | 76 ratings

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4 stars Finnish symphonic metal superstars NIGHTWISH are like the uncle we all remember from extended family gatherings, the one whom nobody knew exactly by what thread he claimed membership, the one who always insisted on paying for group meals more for ego than generosity, the one with the over the top, larger than life yarns that always centered his touted heroics within their solipsistic frame, the one who smoked cigars continuously and blew the smoke in your face like it was a blessing, the one that everyone trash talked to each other, the one who elevated every such gathering from the unctuous familial ooze into a celebration of how grand life could be. That is NIGHTWISH, the band we love, only in private, of course, until now.

"Human.:II:Nature is the first NIGHTWISH studio release since the fabulous "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" in 2015, and it was worth the wait. Following a not dissimilar and equally grandiose concept, the premise seems to be that, if humanity is to survive, it must embrace nature, not as separate from it, as the biblical stewards if you will, but as an essential part of it, with an appreciation of the potential of our destructive nature to unravel its glorious and chaotic order. As usual it's a double CD, but this time the second disk is a symphony rather than a repeat of the first without the vocal tracks. For 30+ minutes, not even a distant snarl, riff, or disruptive moment is discernible, just stately melodies, strings, choirs, and a little narration to guide us along a somber soundscape relative to prior excursions. It serves notice that NIGHTWISH won't be confined by past conscription.

Disk 1 won't disappoint most long time fans, though the metal quotient continues to gradually boil off, seemingly at the expense of the Celtic overtones, augmented by the wonderful Troy Donockley and his pipes, particularly on the pub friendly "Harvest", the anthemic "How's The Heart", and the genre busting "Procession" and "Shoemaker". Whether it's the expected radiance of main vocalist Floor Jansen or the targeted precision of Marco Hietala, the personnel of NIGHTWISH have once again sacrificed individual recognition for commitment to something bigger than themselves and their fans, indeed all of them combined. It's no wonder that, even more than prog rock, NIGHTWISH counts film music as one of their bedrock influences, a realm where descriptions like too grandiose, pretentious, or excessive are devalued and mocked currency. That's why we need NIGHTWISH.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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