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Old 07-18-2012, 04:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Nightwish: Imaginaerum- 2011


Nightwish Imaginaerum- 2011
RMR Album Rating- 7


Finland’s Nightwish are no strangers to conceptual albums, and Imaginaerum is no exception, as it is easily their most grandiose concept album to date, telling the story of an old composer on his death bed who has lost complete sense of current reality and is left with only his childhood memories. The concept is interesting, and for the most part the album works by presenting a diverse collection songs perfectly seasoned with Nightwish’s signature style and sound; however, the album does tumble right into some classic concept album pitfalls, which do detract from the overall brilliance of the rest of the album.

Nightwish’s music is probably best described as symphonic power metal, but the best songs on Imaginaerum like “Storytime,” “I Want My Tears Back,” “Rest Calm,” and the rollercoaster inspired and aptly titled “Last Ride of the Day” take Nightwish’s signature symphonic power metal style and inject it with progressive and folk elements to give the songs a much more textured and complex sound. The album also has two great folk style ballads (“Turn Loose The Mermaids” and “The Crow, The Owl And the Dove”). The only two songs on the album that don’t work for me are “Ghost River” and “Scaretale.” Both songs are simple metal tracks, and they sound lacking and banal compared to the other tracks on the album.

In addition to the magnificent musicianship on the album, the vocals performed by Anette Olzon are also stunning and performed to perfection. Imaginaerum is Olzon’s second album with Nightwish, after replacing the once indomitable Tarja Turunen— Nightwish’s original vocalist. I hadn’t heard Nightwish before Olzon came on board, but I have gone back and listened to some of Nightwish’s albums that feature Turunen, and I like Olzon’s voice better. Turunen is a soprano, and to say that she has a powerful voice is a drastic understatement, but I don’t think her soprano style would fit this record as well as Olzon’s voice does.

Overall, Imaginaerum is a brilliant album, and the concept is interesting, but the concept does create some problems that hurt certain parts of the album. For concept albums to work, they have to be done correctly, and they have to avoid what have become the almost ubiquitous concept album pitfalls. For instance, adding narration to an album rarely resonates with me, and Imaginaerum adds almost 7-minutes of narration to the Walt Whitman inspired “Song of Myself,” which would otherwise be a great track. I also don’t like when concept albums add songs purely because they support the concept. Imaginaerum is being made into a film, and there are some songs that were clearly added because they fit the concept and the film, but their inclusion takes away from the flow of the record. The best example of this is “Slow, Love, Slow,” which is jazz ballad. It doesn’t’ fit in with the rest of the album at all, and it completely disrupts the album’s flow. Lastly, many concept albums tend to run longer than they should, and Imaginaerum is guilty of this—mainly because it contains over 7 minutes of narration and almost 10-minutes of songs that should have been left off the album (the aforementioned “Slow, Love, Slow” and “Arabesque”). If those songs and the narration had been left off, it would take the album’s run time down below the 1-hour mark, which would be much more digestible than its current 74-minute run time.

Although Imaginaerum drives forward completely ignoring the concept album danger signs along the road, it still reaches its destination intact. As mentioned, there are parts that should have been left off the record, but taken as a whole, there are way too many amazing songs not to call this album a success, as there is almost an hour of ultra catchy instrumentation signed by Anette Olzon’s outstanding vocals, and this combination makes Imaginaerum’s key songs completely memorable.





Post Script:
Personally, I prefer Anette Olzon’s vocals to Tarja Turunen’s, but there are many Nightwish fans who are devoted and unwaveringly loyal to Turunen’s 3-octave soprano voice, which gives Nightwish’s music a much more operatic sound. Here is a song sample from Turunen era Nightwish.

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Old 07-19-2012, 01:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, I haven't really been able to stomach much of the Olzon era of Nightwish. Not to say she's a bad vocalist, but I just miss the opera-esque vocals of Tarja.

I'll see if I can get a copy of this album sometime and give it a listen, though I may have the same issue with not being able to really get into it.
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Old 07-19-2012, 09:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I didn't find Nightwish until Tarja was already gone, so I prefer Anette's vocals. Tarja is incredibly talented, but her vocals are a little too over the top for me.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMR View Post
I didn't find Nightwish until Tarja was already gone, so I prefer Anette's vocals. Tarja is incredibly talented, but her vocals are a little too over the top for me.
You've never heard her try a Tarja song then. It doesn't work.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I didn't find Nightwish until Tarja was already gone, so I prefer Anette's vocals. Tarja is incredibly talented, but her vocals are a little too over the top for me.
Two completely different perspectives then. I can see where you're coming from, it's probably the same effect it has on me that it does to you, just opposite. You go from Annette to Tarja as I went from Tarja to Annette.
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