If asked I will willingly admit to be a Nightwish fan … a late fan but a fan nonetheless. I was lucky enough to be introduced to them just in time for Once (2004). I was hooked at Nemo, I was buying a ring and offering myself in marriage at Ghost Love Score, the rest is history.
I was unlucky enough not to ever see them live with their original singer whose departure could have been the end of my young love. Which makes me also admit that I am, in all aspects, a loyal fan. Whatever I start fancying, it takes a serious musical offense to shake me off. For Within Temptation, Hydra was were I drew the line but who can blame me when comparing an Ice Queen to … their latest work.
I have stuck with Nightwish so far through 2 new singers, 2 albums, 4 tours and what I perceive as a serious shift in their core fanbase. Nothing could make me stop loving their music which has been evolving yet consistent.
And then there was … this :
Elan is one month old today [edit: hmmhmm yesterday] and I have yet to take a particular liking to the song. In my opinion, it has some great components but all put together it sounds artificial and bleak. To me this is a song that should have been a nice ballad, possibly acoustic, offered as a bonus track … not the new album flagship. Don’t get me wrong, the song is charming, folky, easy on the ears … but not nearly “Nightwish” enough.
The second track from the single, Sagan (which does not seem to appear on the full album tracklist), did little to dissipate the uneasiness of this first glimpse into “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” [EFMB]. It is a lot heavier, and therefore more pleasing, but the overall messy melody sounds like a piling and recycling of the composer’s usual tricks and the lyrics do not struck a chord with me.
Cynics’ interpretation to this underwhelming release would be that, after a previous singer with a radio-friendly voice, the band has chosen to keep watering down their metal to attract a larger audience and a larger revenue.
The optimist in me chose the alternative interpretation, that Elan was a song which was from the beginning intended to be played on radio and other media with may varied listeners in order to ensure the best promotional coverage for the new album. For me this makes sense as the different elements in Elan are individually good but they way they were mixed and remastered relegates the heavier instruments to the background while highlighting the folky aspect of the tune. I would bet my left pinky that live they will either play it acoustic (as suggested earlier) or crank the guitars up and keep the samplers down to make it a lot more bombastic.
It is in this light that I welcomed with all my heart : Shudder Before The Beautiful [SBtB]
This is indeed a thing of beauty and I hope so much that most of EFMB will be in the same vibe. To me, SBtB is reminiscent of a Dark Chest of Wonders-style opening. True, the sound is still less heavy, more balanced than most songs from the Tarja era, and I do not think the group will ever go back to that. Damn it, it is still punchy AND dreamy (insert Nightwish trademark here), definitely symphonic but leaving some space for an epic guitar/keys duel and Floor gives me shivers on the double crescendo “we are shuddering before the beautiful, before the plentiful”. It is not the old Nightwish but it is a satisfying new Nightwish which gets me excited for things to come.
Now I have only one wish [see what I did there ?], please let the Edema Ruh song be good and inspire Patrick Rothfuss to write the Kingkiller Chronicles – day 3 (because bloody hell do I miss this series).
Bonus Track (I just rediscovered it and Oh the joy)