Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast
When it comes to my favourite bands I avoid all promotional hype, videos, samples and singles leading up to the release of the new album. My boyfriend was trying to get me to watch the video for ‘Storytime’ and when I refused, he turned the volume up to explode the house with sound while I stood in the kitchen with my fingers in my ears, screaming, ‘La la la not listening!’. I’m sure the neighbours thought we’d gone insane. So, when I listened to the album for the first time it was with fresh, impartial ears.
A little bit of background to start. Imaginaerum is not just an album, but part of a much larger Nightwish project – a movie, online game and anything else that is spun from movie releases these days. From what I remember reading, the album and movie releases were to coincide; however, budget and time constraints delayed the movie and Nightwish decided to release the album December 2011.
The album starts with ‘Taikatalvi’ and Marco singing in Finnish along to a music box; my first impression is something akin to a lullaby before the music launches bombastically into ‘Storytime’. Subconsciously I must still expect to hear the dulcet tones of a mezzo soprano, because when rapid vocals squeaked through the speakers my first thought was, ‘I know Tuomas (Holopainen) loves Disney, but did he need to have Minnie Mouse sing on this album!’.
After a few more listens of the album my ears once again became accustomed to Anette Olzen’s vocals - her diversity showcased in songs like the jazz number ‘Slow, Love, Slow’ and the grittier ‘Scaretale’. Unfortunately, the quality of her voice just gets lost in the fast/high register numbers.
There is a very familiar similarity between the melodies of ‘Turn Loose the Mermaids’ and the Once track ‘Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan’ that I can’t put my finger on…maybe it’s just in the same key, maybe the tempo, but I suspect something more.
The standout tracks for me would have to be ‘Ghost Rider’, where the symphonics and vocal layers drip pure Nightwishism; ‘I Want My Tears Back’ for the same Celtic sounds we were introduced to in ‘Last of the Wilds’ in Dark Passion Play; and ‘Last Ride of the Day’ which makes me think mounted native Americans observing the plain.
I skip the last seven minutes or so of monologue/narration in ‘Song of Myself’ – I’ve never been into poetry so hearing it once is enough.
The closing, title track, instrumental features a rich medley worthy of an Andrew Lloyd Webber overture cohesing all the seemingly unrelated songs of the album.
Those familiar with Dark Passion Play will recognise Tuomas Holopainen all over Imaginearum and the album fits well in the band’s catalogue – the sounds, and even to some extent melodies, seem familiar; however, with the diversity of song styles it’s debatable whether it still fits in the metal library.