A unique review of Endless Forms Most Beautiful


Aug 11, 2009
Lawton, OK
Three way review of Dark Passion Play, Imaginaerum and Endless Forms Most Beautiful.
Before I start this review, allow me to insert this… preface if you will. I never reviewed Dark Passion Play, I just enjoyed it. In order to be fair, I set up a playlist on my Windows Media Player with each song by track number. For instance, The Poet And The Pendulum is track 1, Taikaltalvi is track 2, and Shudder Before The Beautiful is track 3 and so on and so forth. I added bonus songs to be fair to give a full, total proper review. Without further ado, lets get started!
Track number 1 of 40:
Title: The Poet and the Pendulum
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 13:55
The song starts out with a beautiful intro, very majestic, and the soprano singing it makes it sound quite ethereal. Then the rest of the band kicks in. However, as is a common complaint with both DPP and later Imaginaerum, the orchestra is more front n’ center than the band. When Anette first starts singing, it’s kind of like ‘hmm, maybe this gal can get er done!’ Good rhythm throughout, but again, the balance and mix is way off for my American ears. I like the epic aspect and the grandness of the sound, and I can almost hear Tarja doing this track in place of the soprano, maybe it would have had a richer tone instead of being so tinny? Lyrical content makes my eyebrows pop up a few times, but that is something that is characteristic of Tuomas Holopainen’s writing style on both Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum, pushing the boundaries and the envelope. I wish the band heaviness segment could have been longer, but then again, I come from more of a… metal background than most fans. I will note that I am having more of an issue hearing the singers because of the voices being buried in the mix.
Track 2 of 40:
Title: Taikatalvi
Album: Imaginaerum,
Run Time: 2:36
You can hear the buzz of recording equipment before the start of the music box, but it dies off when Marco starts singing. I think this is also ethereal in its own way, but I’m not totally sold on this as an album opener, never really have been. The language is beautiful, and it is like a lullaby. Not what one expects from something that should make you wake up and take notice. Again, WAY too much orchestra for my tastes.
Track 3 of 40:
Title: Shudder Before the Beautiful
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 6:39
I like the short nibble of an intro before the song EXPLODES into action, and that the orchestra isn’t so in-your-face and I can hear the brilliance that is Emppu. Floor could be louder, but such a HUGE improvement over Anette. Her voice is MASSIVE and she can literally do it all, which is what Nightwish has always needed. This song is much easier to memorize, despite NOT having lyrics in front of me. Oooh, SOLO! YEAH! Then that breakdown, mmm, so good. I love that Floor is NOT doing the Nordic thing that drove most of us Americans nuts, pronouncing ‘virgin’ as ‘wirgin’ for instance. It’s not woyagers, its voyagers, good job, Floor!
Track 4 of 40:
Title: Bye Bye Beautiful
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 4:15
Big keyboard intro, and chuggy guitars from Emppu, very nice. While Anette is easier to understand than Tarja, you can tell that she isn’t a native English speaker, nor that comfortable with it. Even Marco is a bit difficult to understand. The mix sounds a bit… flat in this. You can hear bits of Tuomas in the back ground, the orchestra isn’t AS obvious, but lots of Emppu and Marco and Jukka. Can’t get over how… young Anette sounds. When I learned after hearing this that she was mid-30’s, I was honestly shocked!

Track 5 of 40:
Title: Storytime
Album: Imaginaerum,
Run Time: 5:22
Immediately, the orchestra is SO LOUD! WHY? It’s like the band are supporting players, not the main attraction, so to speak, and that is annoying to me. Anette sounded like she was straining to sing, and again, she butchered words. Instead of ‘planet earth’ to me, it sounded like ‘planet it’, but then later, she clearly says earth. A good singer should be able to cut out the accent that creeps in and can make understanding the vocalist much easier. Her voice is clearly not what it was on the previous album, and she strains and squeals on notes she was able to hit with ease previously due to the singing style and lack of training WITH that style.

Track 6 of 40:
Title: Weak Fantasy
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 5:25
I loved this song from the first time of hearing it, and that feeling and sensation hasn’t changed. Oh, my god, the BAND is the main attraction for this album, and that is such a big thing for me. Floor sounds great here. Her contemporary voice has grown and developed so much since the early After Forever days, but that is what you would expect from a world class vocalist like Floor. The bits of growlyness from her is so sexy… So far, EFMB is a win for me.
Track 7 of 40:
Title: Amaranth
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 3:51
This song is usually the first song that most later Nightwish fans think of or are introduced to because of the poppy-ness of the track and the accessibility. That is one advantage Anette had over Tarja, her voice was easier to listen to and more accessible in large doses than Tarja. Even I couldn’t stand Tarja at first, despite my own classical background! The mix is a bit more balanced here than it is on Imaginaerum.

Track 8 of 40:
Title: Ghost River
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 3:25
I wanted to like this song so much because of the intro, but the awesomeness kinda dies out after the initial “EMPPU!” Marco’s parts in the chorus have always made me cringe because of the sense that the band is ripping on ‘You Spin Me’ by Dead or Alive. I am somewhat glad that the orchestra kind of buries Marco in the mix. I get the sensation that Anette wasn’t really… present for the recording. She was there, but her heart wasn’t in it. You really can’t even hear Tuomas, unless he’s doing 99% of the orchestra parts… but then again, why would he?

Track 9 of 40:
Title: Elan
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 4:44
This song leaked about a week prior to its release, and the bands reaction to the leak was just horrific. This was the first song we got with Floor, Troy and Kai being involved with Nightwish. Floor and Troy are now full members, with Kai filling in for Jukka, who stepped away from the band for health reasons and he may or may not be back. I get a very Irish feel to this song. Why this is the lead single instead of Sagan, I’ll never understand. And why this was on the album in place of Sagan, again, I don’t get it. For me, this is the weakest track on this album, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. The acoustic at the end is gorgeous!

Track 10 of 40:
Title: Cadence of Her Last Breath
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 4:15
Was Anette the one breathing into the mic? That sounded like a gal doing the breathing, and I’ve always thought that it was. Very weird mix, too. Sometimes the orchestra is overwhelming, then sometimes, you hear Marco over Emppu, which is weird as shit for me. Bass isn’t a very exciting instrument for me, and it is a bit… weird hearing a metal/rock song with more bass than guitar. Letting Emppu have a solo, that was nice, or else a guitar break.

Track 11 of 40:
Title: Slow, Love, Slow
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 5:51
I have always felt this is more of a blues-based song than jazz, despite Tuomas’ best efforts to convince me to the contrary. Anette’s attempt to sound sexy in her singing of this fell flat, which is why I usually skip this song. So many pet peeves hit on in one song. Bad description of the style, check. Singing leaves much to be desired, CHECK! When this was done live by Floor, she hit the sexy sound dead on. Even Emppu’s guitars are bluesier and BB King like than jazz! For what it’s worth, the initial description was ‘sounds like it was in a smoky jazz bar in the 1930s’. The tick of the metronome gets very annoying as it drones on and on.

Track 12 of 40:
Title: Yours is an Empty Hope
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 5:39
The intro reminds me of like The Mummy or Indiana Jones-type of playing. So far, this is unlike anything that Nightwish has released post Tarja era. I love Floor here, and the trade off to Marco is like, goddamn. And then hearing Floor practically yell is like ‘YES!’ The woman is a goddess when it comes to what she can do with her voice. The orchestra is a little heavier here, but that is not taking away from the sound, it enhanced it.

Track 13 of 40:
Title: Master Passion Greed
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 6:03
Before I checked my phone and discovered a surprise was waiting in my email’s inbox, I would have said this was one of my favorite Nightwish tracks, but now, it’s not as near as great as I thought it once was. Marco sounds kinda… squeaky in parts, not a sound I’d ever have thought to associate with the big ol’ grizzled Viking. I like Emppu here, and feel it could have worked well on Guitar Hero or something if remixed without the orchestra.

Track 14 of 40:
Title: I Want My Tears Back
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 5:08
I hear so much promise in the intro! But then the song falls flat after! What the hell? Where’s the momentum? Sometimes you can get the sense that a song was written JUST to be played live, and this is one of those instances. I’m just not all that impressed with this. Big dreams, but not enough follow through to really make me that happy. The ending is fun and is where the song picks back up the pace of the intro.

Track 15 of 40:
Title: Our Decades in the Sun
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 6:39

This is one of the slower tracks on the album, but it’s still beautiful and seems like a touching tribute to parents everywhere. Unlike some of the other slower stuff, it’s not strictly slow and ploddy. I’d much rather put this on instead of say ‘Slow, Love, Slow’. You get the sense of the diversity in Floor’s voice hearing her switch between a contemporary style and a classical flawlessly.

Track 16 of 40:
Title: Eva
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 4:26
While the message of the song, the intention of the song is meant to be anti-bullying, this is way, way too slow to keep my attention for long and usually gets skipped. Anette is very squeaky here.

Track 17 of 40:
Title: Scaretale
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 7:32
This has been one of my few favorites from this album, and the ‘ring around the rosey’ at the beginning always sends chills down my spine. The children’s choir is fucking EPIC! There is so much going on here. Anette’s voice sounds really good for once, and this is HER song live. This track reminds all the fans that they still kick ass.

Track 18 of 40:
Title: My Walden
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 4:39
This entire album has been like the rise of Emppu. Not to mention PROPER pronounciation. I rolled my eyes when I first read the title, but now that I’ve heard the song, ‘My Walden’ simply means MY WORLD, one that I’ve created, and the rules I live by. At least that’s my interpretation. This band has redefined symphonic rock/metal, a genre in which they pioneered. With the addition of Troy Donockly as a permanent member, they have added an extra spark and instrument that changes the dynamic and the sound that they originally had, which for me, helps define this sound. And this song is the perfect example of that very definition

Track 19 of 40:
Title: Sahara
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 5:47
This has always been a favorite song off this album, but then again, I’ve always like the pentatonic scale used for the sound, which creates what I feel is a very… Middle Eastern/ Egyptian sound. They were trying to create a soundscape with the song, so the listener could close their eyes and be transported into another world, and I think they succeeded.

Track 20 of 40:
Title: Arabesque
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 2:52
I don’t really think all that much can really be said about this, other than it sounds AMAZING between the two songs its between.

Track 21 of 40:
Title: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 5:08
This has a very interesting sound to it. The intro is very heavy, and I like that. It is a great use for a title track. The mix behind Floors voice… sounds like she’s singing in front of a bloody wall! Very muddled behind her. I am referring to the verses.

Track 22 of 40:
Title: Whoever Brings the Night
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 4:18
The lyrics in this aren’t super risqué, but it can be a bit naughty, and clearly, the song is about some sexy ass undead creatures. The music is kinda sexy, with the theme. I say kinda because the ‘Wizard of Oz’ feel in the background at one point is distracting, especially if you have the instrumental version.

Track 23 of 40:
Title: Turn Loose The Mermaids
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 4:19
When I initially reviewed this track, I pissed off a lot of fans, and sorry to say, my feelings haven’t changed on this track, or the album as a whole. This song is meh and slow for my tastes.

Track 24 of 40:
Title: Edema Ruh (a/n: pronounced Ee-duh Muh-roo)
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 5:16
I just can’t get over how good and sing-a-long worthy this whole album is! I really, really enjoy Edema Ruh, and think that there should have been a pronunciation guide, because it doesn’t look how it’s spelled, if you ask me. But no worry, still a great track, and totally fits the band. All entertainers can fit this bill.

Track 25 of 40:
Title: For the Heart I Once Had
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 3:56
This is the first song to ever make me cry when listening to it, but then again, the song also came at a time for me when the pain from losing my daughter was extremely fresh. When I say losing her, I mean losing custody and being forced to give her up for adoption. But that aside, it really isn’t that great of a song, just it went along with my mindset and emotional state at the time of hearing it, if that makes sense.

Track 26 of 40:
Title: Rest Calm
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 6:59
This is a song that my opinion has went back and forth on so many times. I hated it when I first heard it, then I loved it because I realized I could actually belt, and rattle car windows while doing it, hehe. But now, I realize the song is *extremely* repetitive, and aside from my own excitement, the track isn’t that special.

Track 27 of 40:
Title: Alpenglow
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 4:49
I like the orchestral arrangements on this, and would LOVE to hear the demo version of this, because I can just hear the raw potential after enjoying the hell out of the finished product. I hear a tiny bit of Bye Bye Beautiful in this, and I know I’m not the only one.

Track 28 of 40:
Title: The Islander
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 5:06
Oh, The Islander! The song that Marco wrote for Tarot, but Tuomas BEGGED him to let Nightwish use it. I still think Marco should have Tarot. How much would it have changed? Would it still have been acoustic? Or are these questions that will forever remain unanswered? It really makes you appreciate just how talented Marco is knowing that HE wrote the song on a regular six string, rather than his usual bass, but then I guess a bass is not all that different from a 6 string.

Track 29 of 40:
Title: The Crow, The Owl and The Dove
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 4:10
I really never cared for this song, either, and didn’t like Imaginaerum all that much. It’s very boring, and the video-contest just proved to me that they blew the budget for the album on that fucking movie. Birdie has always been kind of meh to me. Don’t get me started on the bestiality aspect of kissing a fucking swan on her neck! UGH! Then the use of Cumbrian to cite an incantation to bless a river, that got my pagan blood boiling. The mix was alright in this.

Track 30 of 40:
Title: The Eyes of Sharbat Gula
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 6:04
Such an amazing instrumental. This really changes what my favorites are. If you’d asked me what my favorite instrumental was prior to TEOSG, I would have said Arabesque, but TEOSG is so deep and heavy that this is a new favorite. Beautiful mix of instruments in this.

Track 31 of 40:
Title: Last of the Wilds
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 5:41
Despite no longer being a favorite song, even an instrumental, this song is still really fun to listen to and instantly puts me in a better mood if I’ve been depressed.

Track 32 of 40:
Title: Last Ride Of The Day
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 4:31
Another song that was written to be played live. You sort of get a feel for those after a while. Anette’s voice is too hesitant and whispery and completely inconsistent when it comes to the volume of the sound. The band itself is what saves the song and makes it remotely enjoyable for me.

Track 33 of 40:
Title: The Greatest Show On Earth
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 23:55
Despite its length, this is the single greatest thing I’ve ever heard. This epitomizes all that Nightwish has been striving for so far, and it really is an amazing history lesson in a song. You really can appreciate Tuomas for the brilliant classically-trained pianist that he is, instead of the mad musical genius most people think of when his name is uttered on Facebook. That all the elements that are involved in this song work together as well as they do does show how much of a genius he is. It’s also nice to know he firmly believes in evolution and not in the Biblical way of explaining the start of life. I don’t think Floor or Marco would have been able to sing with such passion if they honestly didn’t feel the same damn way he did. You get to hear all of Floor’s voice. Her operatic side, her growly kick ass rock side, and her awesome contemporary side. I don’t think that there is one bad part to this song or negative thing to say about it. It doesn’t drag on forever like Song of Myself.

Track 34 of 40:
Title: 7 Days to the Wolves
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 7:04
Great song. Always been one of the few Anette era songs I liked to sing along with, and I would love to hear Floor on this one day, as I’m sure many fans would. The orchestra is not quite as overpowering, but I think Anette was extremely weak in parts, and Marco had to pick up the slack because she just couldn’t do what she needed to do to make the song pop.

Track 35 of 40:
Title: Song of Myself
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 13:30
Oh, GOD, this song actually DOES drag on forever! Despite being half the length of The Greatest Show on Earth, THIS is the song that just won’t end for me. Extremely boring. The first 6 and a half or so minutes are alright, but then you get the other 6 and a half minutes of a fucking poetry reading! Some of these things that are discussed are things I really could have lived without hearing, ever. I wanted to skip this, but in the realm of fairness to this review, I couldn’t. This is a song in which I’ve NEVER liked.

Track 36 of 40:
Title: Sagan
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 4:45
Very light and bright, and fits better with the sound of the album, and should have been ON the album instead of Elan! Very bright keyboards in the breakdown-ish spot. This just proves to me that the band isn’t going anywhere, not with Floor. They have the potential to unass Evanescence as the band du jour. True, Evanescence is like a piss poor version of Nightwish, but Floor really is one of the best if not the best female vocalist out there.

Track 37 of 40:
Title: Meadows of Heaven
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 7:12
Boring song for me. To me, this is a skip to the beginning of the album and restart Poet. I get it, this song is extremely personal for Tuomas, like all of the songs, but still, too much slow stuff and you lose my attention.

Track 38 of 40:
Title: Imaginaerum
Album: Imaginaerum
Run Time: 6:18
Very long summarization track used as the outro for all Nightwish shows after the release of this album on the last world tour. I do like the flow from track to track and that it is completely orchestral. Very much a ‘roll the credits’ type of song, and it is good that it was used for that very purpose for the Imaginaerum movie.

Track 39 of 40:
Title: Elan (Radio Edit)
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Run Time: 4:01
This song caused chaos and hell for a very good friend of mine. Despite it sounding damn good on my car stereo, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, knowing the hell that Dom went through at the hands of the ‘Official’ Nightwish Facebook and Twitter accounts. Outright bullying a shaming of a person for SHARING a link, which resulted in people threatening this persons life, and enough info was on this friends page that people knew what country it originated from. I’m putting this here because I’ve kept quiet on this long enough. The band knows who leaked the song and the album, and probably paid the fucker to do it. Blaming someone from Mexico when the uploader was in Brazil? Bullshit.

Track 40 of 40:
Title: Reach [Amaranth Demo]
Album: Dark Passion Play
Run Time: 3:53

Almost painful to hear this demo. Marco, fantastic singer, but he is NOT a power-metal vocalist, and I can only imagine how hard he had to be kicked in the nuts to sing that high! Even the original lyrics were more exciting. Sad that they changed to what they are now. Damnit, this was catchy, too!

So, there you have it, my three way review.

Dark Passion Play, still a great album, despite being released in 2007 and using orchestra like spackle.

Imaginaerum, the album I will probably never listen to in full ever again, because there are so many songs I strongly dislike, and strongly recommend against getting for those reading this that are non Nightwish fans.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the album that Nightwish fans have been waiting for. This is immediately the fore runner for album of the year, and yes, I listened to the leak, but never cancelled my preorder. Floor is a goddess, I love hearing the band again, and this is just an amazing album. Put this on after Once, and ignore the other two I reviewed, and thank me later.