Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015) CD
Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015) CD
Reviewed by Anthony Servante
The music writing talents of Tuomas Holopainen are conducive to the voice his writes for. With Tarja Turunen he found a niche that Symphonic Rock bands have been trying to emulate since Nightwish's first CD. But the combination of grandiose music melding Rock instruments with orchestral arrangements, clever and imaginative lyrics (Tuomas's strongest suit) and Tarja's vocals were no match for the emulators. With each new CD, Nightwish's sound evolved into a perfect hybrid of Rock, Goth, Opera, Classical, and Heavy Metal. Tuomas could switch gears for maximum speed or cruising along oceanside, and Nightwish was the perfect vehicle for his drive to keep the hybrid growing. The addition of Marco Hietala to the band only lent more credence to Tuomas's genius as the gravel-voiced vocalist from Tarot (Marco's former band) matched perfectly with Tarja's operatic range as evident in their near perfect CD ONCE.
But with Tarja's departure from the band, which we won't get into here, the search was on for another singer. Fans all over the world recommended singers from the emulator bands whose vocalists resembled Tarja in operatic range; however, Tuomas went with Annette Olsen, whose vocal range was more suited for a Hard Rock band than a Symphonic Rock band. But not with Tuomas writing songs for her. Their first CD together was Dark Passion Play (2007), which showed a harder Rock sound edging out the classical leanings. Imaginaerum (2010), Nightwish's second CD with Annette, found the perfect blend to send Tuomas's hybrid of music soaring again. Then Annette left the band, which we won't get into here.
Floor Jansen, from After Forever, one of those emulator bands, took over Anette's touring duties on vocals as Nightwish continued with their concert touring for Imaginaerum. Of course, Nightwish was still looking for a new vocalist, but Jansen turned into such a crowd favorite that Tuomas invited her to join the band. Now, After Forever is no slouch band; they gave Nightwish a run for their money in the song-writing and vocals department, so Nightwish fans were eager to hear what the new Nightwish CD would sound like with Floor. Well, that CD is now out and it is called Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015). Well, Tuomas seems a bit confused about whom he is writing for. Floor has that Tarja range, but not the Hard Rock edge of Annette, so the new CD seems to be trying to sound new but it is a rehash of the Tarja-esque sound of Once with leftover themes from Imaginaerum.
I mean, hell, Nightwish could write Country music and I'd eat it up, so the new CD is a stunning selection of songs that will have you singing along with the best of the Nightwish oeuvre. If only they didn't sound so familiar. The hybrid has stalled. Tuomas doesn't seem to know how to write for Floor's vocal range, as he seems to be avoiding writing Tarja-esque songs for a Tarja-esque voice and yet continues to write Olsen-esque songs for a non-Olsen-esque style. Floor is up for the challenge. She brings the professionalism she showed with her former band and the grandiose range, but the Hard Rock has softened.
The true test will come Friday when I see the latest incarnation of Nightwish live performing songs from the new CD (comprises half the show). Of course, the band will be playing classics from the songlist that have proved popular with fans when Floor made them her own, especially on Ghost Love Score which she turned from Grandiose to Gothic. And the next test will, of course, be on the next CD. Will Tuomas get his songwriting back on track and move the band forward with the new singer ready for music made strictly for her? We'll have to wait and see, but I'll be there to pick up a copy. Even if it's a Country album.