By Tero Tolkki for Metal From Finland. It was a typical autumn afternoon in Finland. Dark, windy and rainy. But my day was getting better as I was driving to legendary Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland to hear the new Nightwish album Imaginaerum. It was a special event held for the press since there isn’t going to be any promos available. And the bonus was that the Maestro himself, Tuomas Holopainen was there to host the event. I’ve been in Finnvox studios many times before and I knew that the place wasn’t all that huge so I was sort of hoping it wouldn’t be packed with press. Wrong. But at the same time totally understandable. I couldn’t think a single journalist who would like to miss this one. It was nice to see that Nightwish was presented there not only by Tuomas but the rest of the guys as well. Only Anette was missing. After a small waiting period, we moved to the studio-room itself where we could hear their long awaited album Imaginaerum.
I will write about each and every song individually but keep in mind, this is not a review of Imaginaerum. It is impossible to write a review of such epic after hearing it only once. So the things I gathered on my notebook were more like feelings which I am going to share with all of you now. But I can say to all you Nightwish fans out there…with Imaginaerum Nightwish will challenge you in a way they’ve never done before. This album is by far not an easy album to approach. But here is Imaginaerum, track by track.
Started with this wind-up toy playing a lullaby. Marco sang the intro in finnish which was cool to hear. It was like a dreamworld entrance with flutes, choirs and symphony orchestras. A perfect intro.
Nightwish released this song as the first single from Imaginaerum. A nice mid-tempo song that actually reminded me of one other Nightwish song, just couldn’t figure out which one. Very strong guitar riffs. Contained a very strong symphonical part in the middle. Maybe the song itself was stretched a bit too much from the end but definately understandable why Storytime was chosen as the single song.
Another mid-tempo song. Marco’s singing in the beginning was like touch of madness and rage. After that it was more like a dialogue type of singing with Marco and Anette. Very strong symphonical part in the middle with a child choir. That sounded awesome.
SLOW, LOVE, SLOW
This was a treat…unlike nothing I’ve heard from Nightwish before. Started with a piano and while I was waiting the song to kick in…well…it didn’t Instead it changed totally. The best way I can describe this song is like, going to one of those bars in the 60′s, full of smoke and a on stage there is a woman in spotlight singing. When you hear this song you’ll understand what I mean. I actually spoke to Jukka about this particular song and he said that was one of the things they tried to capture on the song…well they did it And then there was this clean guitar part, like a solo but it was so funny. Couple of journalists started laughing and even Emppu himself was laughing. This awesome song ended with a long tic tac tic tac sound. I must say, not a song I would expect to hear from Nightwish but I love the fact that they are experimenting.
I WANT MY TEARS BACK
This song started with a very butch guitar riff. It doesn’t matter that Emppu’s sound is pretty much always the same and the riffs are similar but I do love how it sounds. On the early parts of this song I thought it could very well be a good candidate for their second single release but a middle part totally changed it. It had this middle age feeling…hard to describe. Well I am describing mostly my feelings on the songs cause now when I write it, I barely anymore remember how the songs went. Again to me that’s a good thing. Anette’s sound is a bit thin on this song for some reason.
Starts with a very nightmare-like pressuring atmospere, well it’s called Scaretale Loved how the double bassdrums started after the beginning and it gave a very groovy feeling for the song. At some point of this song Anette’s voice changed to slightly aggressive which in my books is never a bad thing! Middle part of this song contained a speech which believe me or not, changed into something that remotely resembled Finntroll on their early years ´:) This song was a combination of many different parts.
Instrumental song. Didn’t really get inside this one at all.
TURN LOOSE THE MERMAIDS
Starts acoustically with Anette singing and pan-flutes on the background. This song overall had a very beautiful and balanced atmosphere and while I closed my eyes, I almost fell asleep…some might think it’s a sign of boredom but to me it’s a sign of relaxation. And it’s not easy to achieve in a room full of journalists lol. Loved this song.
This one started with a nice guitar shredding. Marco started singing and Anette joined. Middle part changed almost entirely to acoustic while Anette was singing with a child choir.
THE CROW, THE OWL AND THE DOVE
Started acoustically and the song had a very tranquil feeling overall. There was a someone in the middle part who I think was a special quest cause it didn’t sound like Marco.
LAST RIDE OF THE DAY
Now this is Nightwish! From the very beginning to very end. Lots of choirs, strong riffs, melodic chorus, double bassdrums. Definately single material.
SONG OF MYSELF
Song 1: From A Dusty Bookshelf
Song 2: All That Great Heart Lying Still
Song 3: Piano Black
Song 4: Love
This is epic…EPIC. But also a song you need to listen over and over again and I am sure you’ll discover something new each time you hear it. It’s just a combination of so many things…overwhelming really. At times so melodic and then turns into a total end of the world atmosphere. Only Maestro is capable of doing such compositions. As I said already…you need to hear this song many times to get inside it.
Outro, symphonic, wow…it was funny cause when the song ended…the room was totally quiet…you couldn’t even hear a single breath…until Marco broke the silence by saying “Yes that was it”
People walk out the room in silence…surreal feeling. I don’t think the silence was cause of disappointment, I think it was more like “What did just happen?”. At least that’s how it felt to me. Over 70 minutes and it went by very fast. Now I am not saying this is the best Nightwish album, again one cannot even make such assumption based on one listening time. You can do that with many bands but not with Nightwish. There is simply too much content in those 70 minutes to state an opinion…only to describe feelings.
As you all may or may not know, they will also make a movie out of Imaginaerum which will be written and directed by Stobe Harju based on a story by Tuomas Holopainen. This was something that I actually kept in mind while listening. So what I did during each song was to close my eyes and just let my imagination fly. I couldn’t believe I actually started seeing images coming out of nowhere. It felt surreal…just listening to the song and the lyrics they transformed into images. Now let’s see how the fans like it when the album is released. I loved it.