Nightwish is now 20 years into their career, and in an interesting spot. Despite losing two singers (including the one that is arguably the reason for their initial burst of fame), the band seems to get more and more popular. Even for me, they’re a bit of a mystery; some of their material is brilliant, while other songs are uninteresting (often on the same album). With that said, a new singer being in the picture is a good opportunity to check out the band, especially given Floor Jansen’s incredible abilities.
On the whole, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” exceeded my expectations. The album is filled with catchy songs, that, despite some hiccups, still manage to be worth hearing. The biggest problem with “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is the same one that Nightwish has had for a while: it’s too long. Even if this album were 79 minutes of the most brilliant material in existence, it would be too much. Of course, there is still a bit of fluff amongst that run time (particularly in the 24-minute “The Greatest Show On Earth”, though that song also has some of the album's best and most intense moments). When the band is playing full steam, however, they will keep you rocking. One great example of this is the opener, “Shudder Before The Beautiful”, where Emppu Vuorinen greets you with one of the heaviest Nightwish riffs ever. The band has their tamer moments as well, including the single, “Élan”, but as long as there’s no interlude, they are generally playing something enjoyable.
Of course, perhaps the most important aspect here is Floor’s vocal performance. There is no doubt she is quite talented, but it was unclear how she would fit in with Nightwish’s sound. To be honest, the result is a bit disappointing. She hits all of the notes and always sounds in-tune, but she just doesn’t sound all that powerful. It has nothing to do with her skill, but more just that the vocal lines sound like they were written for Annette, rather than Floor. There are a few moments when she really lets loose, and it becomes clear that there is a lot of potential in Nightwish with her at the helm.
Despite my criticisms above, this album is still worth purchasing. The songs are filled with layers upon layers of interesting material, much of which will take a few listens to truly appreciate. Tuomas Holopainen is always delivering something exciting on the keyboards, and it’s clear he has truly mastered Nightwish’s current songwriting craft. It doesn’t seem like bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala makes as many vocal appearances as he has in the past, but each one is fitting and well performed. Overall, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is an excellent demonstration of a band that knows their sound and executes it well. Though one would typically associate a singer change with a mid-life crisis for a band, Nightwish has handled it incredibly well, and one can only hope that Floor’s talents will be better utilized in the future.
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"Shudder Before The Beautiful"
"Endless Forms Most Beautiful"
"The Greatest Show On Earth"
4.2/5 or 84%.
Written by Scott