Record Reviews

Album review: Nightwish “Human. :||: Nature.”

Tuomas Holopainen and Nightwish are back with a splendid new double album. On “Human. :||: Nature.” the band continues on a journey further away from its metal roots. Here they dig deep into mythology and folklore and epic drama.

On its new album, Finland’s symphonic metal band Nightwish continues on its evolving musical journey by wandering further away from metal and deeper into mythology and folklore. This is a fantastically beautiful double album. It is a labour of love and a boundary-pushing exercise. I am pretty sure that bandleader Tuomas Holopainen is very pleased with the result on this new album, the band’s ninth studio album and its second with current lead vocalist Floor Jansen. I, too, am very happy with the result. I love this kind of epic drama. At times, it’s almost like a polite version of Cradle of Filth.

The main disc contains nine great songs while the second disc contains one very long but stunning song called “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World” which has been subdivided into eight shorter pieces. The beautiful “Music” is a terrific song that combines some ABBA (!?) influences and dreamy ethnic vibes, while “Noise” is a more energetic and dramatic whirlwind of a song. A lot of this music is over the top with plenty of epic drama. Some of it is like Avantasia on Red Bull or a less camp Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical with attitude. Like a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings film score. Some parts, like the track “Harvest” for example with Troy Donockley on lead vocals, are very folksy. Is that good or bad? That depends on what you want. I think it is brilliant. But there is also some more “normal” symphonic metal-style Nightwish music here, such as the terrific track “Pan”. The focus on this album is on storytelling, fairytale soundscapes and dramatic musical arrangements, not least with the excellent use of choirs and different vocal styles by Floor Jansen, Troy Donockley and Marco Hietala. It’s very atmospheric and I dig it, but some of this music is a far cry from the metal music that some fans had hoped for. Perhaps this is Nightwish’s equivalent to the 1981 KISS concept album “The Elder”. Or is it an answer to The Who’s rock opera “Tommy”? Who knows? But for now, this is what Nightwish is here and now. It is beautifully brilliant. The combination of the epic music and the powerful voice of Floor Jansen is magical.

Nightwish’s double album “Human. :||: Nature.” will be released on 10th April via Nuclear Blast internationally and via Ward Records in Japan.