1. Taikatalvi
2. Storytime
3. Ghost River
4. Slow, Love, Slow
5. I Want My Tears Back
6. Scaretale
7. Arabesque
8. Turn Loose the Mermaids
9. Rest Calm
10. The Crow, the Owl and the Dove
11. Last Ride of the Day
12. Song of Myself
13. Imaginaerum

Anette Olzon - vocals
Tuomas Holopainen - keyboards, piano
Emppu Vuorinen - guitars
Marco Hietala - bass, vocals
Jukka Nevalainen - drums, percussion

Angels Fall First (1997)
Oceanborn (1998)
Wishmaster (2000)
Century Child (2002)
Once (2004)
Dark Passion Play (2007)

Troy Donockley - uillean pipes (on track 5 & 13), tin whistle (on track 1, 8 & 10), vocals (on track 10 & 12), bodhran, bouzouki
Dermot Crehan - hardanger fiddle
Dirk Campbell - sorna
Guy Barker - solo trumpet
Paul Clarvis and Stephen Henderson - ethnic percussion
Pekka Kuusisto - violin
"The loved ones & the fellowship" credited for reciting the stanzas in track 12.

Producer: Tuomas Holopainen, Tero Kinnunen & Mikko Karmila
The choir group Metro Voices contributed vocals, led by choir mistress Jenny O'Grady. The Young Musicians London also contributed vocals, led by Lynda Richardson and co-ordinated by Jenny O'Grady.
The orchestra, called "The Looking Glass Orchestra", was led by Thomas Bowes and conducted by James Shearman.
The orchestra and choir was arranged, orchestrated and directed by Pip Williams.

Released 2/12-2011
Reviewed 1/12-2011

nuclear blast

Finnish Nightwish have always been one of my favourite bands but truth to tell, they have yet to produce that album to really blow me away, I just don’t think any of their albums can be called a timeless classic. I do really enjoy Wishmaster and Century Child but none of those are really close to being called a timeless classic, maybe their seventh effort Imaginaerum might be that classic I am waiting for. According to the label Nuclear Blast the album is at least one of the highlights of 2011, there will also be a movie with the same name with music from this album and the same story concept as the album. It is about this old composer who on his deathbed is looking back at his youth, it is what he sees that is told through the songs of the album.

It has passed some years since Nighwish released Dark Passion Play in 2007 and to be honest that album was quite poor, or shall we say it was average as there was some good stuff on it, especially the single track Amaranth. That was also the first album to feature Anette on the vocals and she did not really impress either, but I think that was at least in part due to not so great songs and much singing from Hietala who sucks every time he sings on a Nightwish song (except for While Your Lips are Still Red from the Amaranth single). So lets see now if four years of waiting has been worth it.

Musically we immediately recognise the pompous and grande arrangements, there has really never been anything minimalistic about Nightwish which I think is in part why they never make this fantastic album I know they are capable of doing. This time though it resembles more a film score than anything else, I would say that it is like the soundtracks of Stargate and Edward Scissorhands met and merged. The production is as usual spot on and brilliant, the soundscape is magical and it is a bit like having a film playing out in the back of your mind. And there are some smaller creations as well adding some variation to this album, we move into the field of Jazz and also into the laid back ballad stuff, it is a diverse album you could say. Besides the massive arrangements that take the front line in the assault on your ears in this album, it is Anette that you will hear the most as she does the major part of the singing with Hietala only adding his voice to a few parts which is much better as I still think he should not even sing in Nightwish tracks as he sings too bad for adding vocals to such songs. Do like in the old days and have Tony Kakko do guest vocals or some other skilled singer do the occasional male vocal part. Anyway, enough Hietala bashing now he is an accomplished musician so I have nothing against him as such, just as a singer for Nightwish. This album however, is one hour and fourteen minutes long and it has thirteen tracks where the title tracks is the last and it is an instrumental reprise of the entire album composed by Pip Williams, most known for his production duties for Status Quo.

So, is it the magnum opus of Nightwish? Well, yes it is but it is not as fantastic as I was hoping it would be. The atmosphere that reminds me a lot of movies with Twin Peaks, Stargate, Danny Elfman tunes, Spaghetti Western and so on is really fantastic and adds a dimension I think most earlier Nightwish albums have missed. The songs Storytime, Turn Loose the Mermaids, The Crow, the Owl and the Dove and the ending title track are brilliant tracks and had the rest of the album been that or near that quality I would have been ecstatic at this moment. Unfortunately the rest of the tracks are not up to that level, sure Slow, Love Slow and Rest Calm are two other quite good tracks that stand out slightly and with Anette never having sounded better all possibilities for a fantastic album are really there. But there are a few letdowns like Ghost Rivers which is a real stinker which is ruined by terrible vocals by Hietala, also Scaretime is a poor track which isn’t even saved by fantastic vocals from Anette. The tracks not mentioned are alright but they don’t really make anything even resembling a lasting impression.

The story taking us from a lullaby into a dreamworld where we visit places, dreams, nightclubs, nightmares, but we also free mermaids meeting birds and a lot of other interesting stuff. The concept is well told through the tracks so it is not only an album that is a good listen, it tells its story well too. It is a bit like being in the world of the movies, like a Burton directed dreamscape movie which is scored by Danny Elfman and David Arnold making the perfect soundtrack for your dreams. And as I said, I think it is the best album so far by Nightwish, the Storytime and Turn Loose the Mermaids tracks are probably the best the band has ever made. Otherwise it is kind of ironic that two of my four favourite of this album are the two tracks that aren’t entirely composed by Holopainen, track ten with the crow is by Hietala and Holopainen and the ending title track is a medley of the songs from Imaginaerum which is a track where Pip Williams had the freedom to do whatever he wanted and he did it greatly.

I think Nightwish a little bit forgot to take a step back to really look and listen to make sure it all worked. Mostly it does but there are things that is a real downer for this album, like something just thrown in there for whatever reason. Still, the grandness and the cinematic touch is something I think the band should explore further in the future, they should also gag Marko Hietala to give me one less thing to complain about.

Still, no matter the complaining, this is still without a doubt the best album that Nighwish have ever done and it is a really good album, not one of the best from 2011 but not too far from it either. Not the fantastic album I was hoping for but still an album for all the fans of good music to enjoy.


Label: Nuclear Blast/Warner
Three similar bands: Arven/Within Temptation/Alyson Avenue
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

Läs på svenska

Previous reviews:
We Came as Romans - Understanding...
Elm Street - Barbed Wire Metal
R.E.M. Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth...

Previous articles:
Steve Hackett