I am an unabashed fan of Nightwish, and indeed many of their female fronted, symphonic gothic rock/metal contemporaries, Lacuna Coil, Epica and the like. It undoubtedly comes from the fact that I love heavy and metal music, and symphonic music, and few other genres combine the two to such convincing and dramatic effect.
Nightwish's incredible 2004 album, Once, is an absolute landmark release in the genre, it's the one where everything came together for them compositionally, and it broke them on a worldwide scale as well. Whilst they decided to part ways with their incredible lead vocalist Tarja Turunen prior to its recording, and replace her with the slightly less classically accomplished Anette Olzon, 2007's Dark Passion Play was an extremely strong follow up.
It's been another very lengthy wait for Imaginaerum. It's a concept album, based upon the memories of an old composer who is facing his death. There is also an accompanying movie to go alongside the album's release. Needless to say it's a ridiculously ambitious and dramatic undertaking, in true Nightwish style.
This however may be the album's downfall. In reaching for more of a 'music theatre' type of feel, they may have overreached themselves slightly (which is extremely difficult for a band such as this), and sacrificed a little of the sheer, over the top bombast that they do best and are best known for.
That's not to say there's not a solid wack of pomp and ceremony going on here. There certainly is, and a first time listener probably couldn't help but be blown away by the sheer size, scope and ambition of the record. Bands regularly suffer in comparison to themselves, and their previous triumphs though, and Imaginaerum falls a little short, especially of Once and even Dark Passion Play.
In constructing an album that is also a story, they have come up with a bunch of songs that maybe aren't quite as fully realised as they were on Once, since they're having to serve the storyline as opposed to simply standing alone. Listening through to the end of Imaninaerum, there are far fewer moments that make the blood tingle and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Viewed in isolation, this is a fine symphonic metal concept album. It has many fine moments. Once, and to a slightly lesser extent Dark Passion Play, set the bar insanely high for these Finnish masters however, and Imaginaerum comes up slightly short.
Love the writing and the conceptualization of the work. I wish youd added a youtube or mp3 sample of the music. I assume they are an English band. Are they popular or cultish? Can they be seen anywhere?