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Review: Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2015
Duration: 1:18:39
Tracks: 11
Genre: Symphonic Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: March 31, 2015
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Rated 4.37/5 (87.41%) (27 Votes)

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is the latest album from Finnish legends Nightwish and the first with former After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen behind the microphone. Jansen took over for Annette Olzon during the tour for Imaginaerum when it became clear the latter didn't have the pipes needed to power Nightwish's operatic music. Enter Jansen, problem solved.

On the surface, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is easily as good, if not better than Dark Passion Play, the first album without original lead singer Tarja Turunen, and let's be honest when that album was released most of us agreed it was pretty good. Jansen doesn't display the same operatic vocals as Turunen though that has more to do with the musical direction of the band than her abilities. Main man Tuomas Holopainen still seems intent on marrying movie soundtrack music with Symphonic Metal and the lessons he learned from the disaster that was Imaginaerum have enabled him to tone done some of the theatrics and focus more on the music this time. What we are left with is an infinitely more listenable album. Songs like "Weak Fantasy" and "Walden" are definitely in the Dark Passion Play mold and echoes of even older material come through loud and clear on "Alpenglow" and "Elan" which I admit has grown on me since I trashed it as a single. The best thing about the addition of Jansen has to be her range. Not only can she sing mid-range (something Olzon seemed to struggle with) and high notes (though that isn't much in evidence here) but she'll also lean hard into the microphone and scream in a vocal-cord rending shout side-by-side with bassist Marco Hietala (who is criminally underused on Endless Form Most Beautiful) and keep up with him note-for-note. I can't imagine Turunen ever doing that.

There is a lot to like about this new album but it is Nightwish after all and there are plenty of over the top and mind-numbing things as well. The album is long. Too long. The ballad "Our Decades in the Sun" is dull and the instrumental "The Eyes of Sharbat Gula" is pointless. Who needs a 6+ minute instrumental leading into a 23+ minute track ("The Greatest Show on Earth) that is over half instrumental itself? To top it off, I get that the over-arching theme of the album is about the evolution of life on this planet (Endless Form Most Beautiful, get it?) but the voice-overs at the beginning and end are heavy handed and confusing. For example, there's a spoken line in "The Greatest Show on Earth" that goes "most people are never going to die because they're never going to be born." Um, what? How can they be "people" if they aren't born? My brain hurts. I guess if I wasn't going to accept Nightwish being pompous, I wouldn't like them in the first place.

At the end of the day, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a good album, clearly better than its predecessor and, with the addition of Jansen, it is a promising move in the right direction for a band that was in danger of becoming irrelevant. It is too long and in the future I'd like to hear some operatic stuff from Jansen and just plain more from Heitala, but I'll definitely take it.

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