ALBUM: Nightwish – Imaginaerum

Release Date: December 19th, 2011
Label: Nuclear Blast Records


With some mouth watering comparisons coming from the Nightwish camp between ‘Imaginaerum’ and Pink Floyd‘s masterstroke ‘The Wall’, to say that anticipation for the Finnish quintet’s latest effort has been fervent would be a vast understatment. With whisperings of a imminent split, stemming from rumour of the arrival of vocalist extraordinare Annette Olson and ensuing tension within the band, apprehension amoungst fans has been rife. Can Nightwish deliver all that they promise with such issues continuing to spill through the grapevine? One listen to ‘Imaginaerum’ confirms the answer to be a resounding yes.

Undoubtedly over blown and pompous, the album is a rather bewildering display of dynamics and ideas, and what is clearly the band’s most challenging work to date also reveals itself to be their most rewarding. The performances all around are consistently sterling, yet it is the triumphant efforts of Annette which steal the show here. Perhaps encouraged by the recent nay sayers, her vocal work is both assured and varied, providing splendidly the necessary light and shade to compliment such a diverse collection of songs. Whether it’s the sultry, brooding swing of the delightfully jazzy ‘Slow Love, Slow’ or the pounding bombast of ‘I Want My Tears Back’, Annette ultimatley proves herself to be an impeccible fit for Nightwish.

Indeed, with this conhesivness now utterly cemented, the inventivness and creativity is rampted up to bold extremes. The blazing riffage of ‘Ghost River’, replete with some surprisingly pronounced harsh vocals, see the band at their heaviest yet, the orchestral strains sweeping through the gallant ‘Last Ride Of The Day’ compliment flawlessly the grandiose ambience which simply oozes from the songwriting, and the slow burning ‘Rest Calm’ impresses with some sumptuous melodies and a swirling progressive air. It is relentlessly stirring stuff, and all pulled off so emphatically it’s difficult not to be enthused.

‘Imaginaerum’ can not fail to gratify Nightwish fans. The record sees the band at their most pompous, their most ridiculous, and without doubt at their most brilliant. With a film based on the album (and staring each band member) on the way next year, the Nightwish hype train is gathering pace fast, and with such a rich and sustaining new release on board, it certainly shows no sign of slowing down soon.

Written by Tony Bliss