Concept album Imaginaerum is Nightwish's second effort with Swedish lead vocalist Anette Olzon and whether she is a good replacement for her predecessor Tarja Turunen is still a hot topic on the web, as it has divided the fans into two camps. To have that said, I myself prefer Anette on any given time. The recording for the album started over one year ago, so they have had plenty of time to create their new release.
To keep it short, this is a story of an old composer on his deathbed. Most concept albums have a couple of songs just there to keep the story together. This album is no exception and if you're not reading or listening to the lyrics, or if you just don't care about the words, you're gonna find some songs which you probably wished were cut from the album. On the other hand, if you dig the story, you will find those parts important as they weave threads together.
The album starts with an intro sung in Finnish and turns into the album's highlight, Storytime. An ABBA-inspired track with a strong chorus, which was released as the first single one month prior to the release of Imaginaerum. I feel that these kind of songs have become more possible to create with Anette and the band will probably gain more and more fans as they explore further. Another example is I Want My Tears Back. A catchy song and one of the best on the album as well.
With a mix of epic, slow, bombastic, dark, heavy, symphonic and jazz-inspired songs (it feels like I could go on forever) this album is very diverse and even if it is seventy-five minutes long it rushes by quite quick, except for ten minutes in the middle with darker song Scaretale and the instrumental song Arabesque, which both feels like songs just there to fit the story. Even if doesn't matter at all, I sometimes wonder too, if I should categorize Nightwish as heavy rock or metal.
We also get two beautiful ballads in Turn Loose The Mermaids and The Crow, The Owl And The Dove and also a semi-ballad in Rest Calm. The latter is a song with a Sonata Arctica-like chorus and makes me wonder if Nightwish have listened too much on their fellow countrymen's latest albums.
Whether if the change of vocalists has been for better or for worse, I'm fascinated by Last Ride Of The Day and Song Of Myself. Songs with classic Nightwish sound, but with Anette choruses. This release would have easily gotten at least 8 chalices if it wasn't a concept album with those fillers there to fit the story.