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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Track-by-Track: Nightwish - Imaginaerum

It's hard to judge a Nightwish album. In many ways, they're operating so far above other acts that it seems unfair to use the same scale to rate them. Like their last album, there's nothing here that hasn't been exquisitely crafted. The band continue to experiment with genres, and it's natural that every experiment won't fully click with every listener. So, where the band gets docked points is only where their experiments didn't click with me. But make no mistake, this is one of the albums of the year. No doubt about that.

1. Taikatalvi - An intro, sung in Finnish and setting the tone for the album. Nice, but I won't rate an intro.

2. Storytime - The first single, and not only one of the best tracks on the album but also one of the best songs of the year. It's absolutely massive yet still instantly catchy. This represents the sound that Nightwish do best. 10/10

3. Ghost River - Continuing with an experimental theatrical sound, this is slightly less instant. The riffs that open the track are amazing and I love the use of the children's choir, but the melody isn't as strong as the last track. 9/10

4. Slow, Love, Slow - A jazz number (!). It's brilliant for what it is, but I'm afraid this kind of music just isn't my thing. Maybe it would fit better later in the album, but right here I just feel like it kills the energy. Anette sounds great, though. 8/10

5. I Want My Tears Back - Now we're back! Mixing elements of hair metal, folk, rock and pop into a ridiculously inventive gumbo, you've got to hear this to believe it. The melody is among the most instant on the album, and then the track goes totally off the rails with a blistering instrumental. 10/10

6. Scaretale - More experimental with its song structure, of all the songs this sounds the most like a Tim Burton film. It's more like a freaky carnival circus than an actual song, but that's okay because it's just demented enough to be fun. A little long, maybe, but otherwise awesome. 9/10

7. Arabesque - It's all about the drums in this instrumental. It's a refreshing palette cleanser between songs and a dramatic focal point in its own right. 10/10

8. Turn Loose The Mermaids - A classic folk ballad with a beautiful, if familiar, melody. Anette sings this and does so very well. Not my favorite ballad on the album, but a close second. 10/10

9. Rest Calm - Probably the darkest/heaviest track on the album and, because of that, not a favorite of mine. I like the verses better than the chorus, and I think I'd like it more if the track wasn't so long. It's totally fine, just not a standout. 8/10

10. The Crow, The Owl And The Dove - My favorite ballad and rumored to be the next single. It's one of the poppier tracks on the album, while still maintaining a folk sensibility. It's a beautiful duet with a melody that I can't get out of my head. 10/10

11. Last Ride Of The Day - Now this is epic. It's similar in sound to Storytime, but might be even better. The choir is used brilliantly, and that moment we get the key change with the layered vocals? Epic! 10/10

12. Song Of Myself - Another ridiculously epic track, and the longest song on the album at nearly fourteen minutes. The latter half is a spoken poem, but the first half is pure bombast. One of the best things you'll hear this year. 10/10

13. Imaginaerum - An instrumental recap of several of the songs from the album. It's the closing credits for their upcoming movie. Here, it's a perfect capper to one of the year's best albums. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.5/10

* Wanna make this album even better? Combine tracks from this and 2007's Dark Passion Play and you have, literally, the best Nightwish album ever concocted. This is meaning-of-life good, folks. So here's Imaginaerum (Alienhits version):
1. Poet and the Pendulum (edited to the 10:05 mark -- the last few minutes ruin the flow -- Nightwish purists will kill me but I'm all about the sequencing)
2. Storytime
3. Last Ride of the Day
4. Amaranth
5. The Crow, the Owl and the Dove
6. Bye Bye Beautiful
7. I Want My Tears Back
8. Cadence of Her Last Breath
9. Eva
10. Scaretale
11. Arabesque
12. For the Heart I Once Had
13. The Islander
14. Escapist (DPP b-side)
15. Turn Loose the Mermaids
16. Song of Myself
17. Imaginaerum

(If you've gotta cut it down to fit on a cd, take out Scaretale and either the Islander or Imaginaerum)

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Anonymous Tempting Tone said...

Love your own mixed album ;)


1:33 AM  

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