Nightwish - _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_
(Nuclear Blast, 2015)
by: Julia Semprich (6.5 out of 10)
As a fervent symphonic metal fan I never thought that I would write this: Nightwish have truly overdone the symphonic part on their newest release _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_. It is generally a good album, but I would have wished for more of the original Nightwish features such as more aggressive guitar passages, more speed and more fervent metal vocals which new member Floor Jansen is more than capable of providing. Instead, the orchestra and choirs are overshadowing the metal elements giving the album the character of a movie soundtrack. Not that I don't like soundtracks, but it's not what I expect from a band featuring excellent metal musicians who all seem to fade too much into the background.

On one of the videos about the making of the album, composer and keyboarder Tuomas Holopainen says that the songs have become so complex that it is getting difficult to play them live on stage. Since Nightwish have not yet started touring with a permanent orchestra, it is also disappointing that the majority of the tracks on _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_ cannot be performed live without either significant adjustments to the arrangements or a huge amount of playback. Both options will make the band less authentic which is a pity since Floor is such an excellent performer on stage.

The album is composed around the evolution theme, aptly featuring evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins as narrator on the opener "Shudder Before the Beautiful" and the 24 minute piece "The Greatest Show on Earth". Taking Floor as new vocalist was an excellent choice since her style fits Nightwish's music very well, although personally I would have preferred to hear more of her aggressive parts such as on "Weak Fantasy" and "Yours Is an Empty Hope".

Compared to the two previous albums _Dark Passion Play_ and _Imaginaerum_ Marco's signing parts have been reduced and he is now mostly audible in the background (which is a bit sad, too). His best part is on "The Greatest Show on Earth" where his passages alternate with Floor's. Empuu gets a few guitar solos here and there, but often appears to be the only metal warrior fighting with his riffs against the army of orchestra instruments and choirs. Troy Donockley is also a nice addition to the band, adding pipes and whistles especially on "√Član" and "My Walden". The drumming, performed by Kai Hahto, who stands in for Jukka Nevalainen on this album, is nicely played but also too restrained compared to the symphonic parts.

Despite all my complaints, _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_ is still a well produced, musically versatile album and a nice listen nevertheless, but I would have wished for more speed and metal passages, less smoothness and a few more quirks instead.

Contact: http://nightwish.com/en

(article published 8/7/2015)


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