Reviewed by Narri
Is this real? To me, the fact that the first song, “Taikatalvi” is so very Finnish (in language and sound) was almost surreal. To the experienced Finnish Metal critic, it’s not too abnormal, but with the status Imaginaerum is bound to reach, I believe this song alone will place Finland even more on the map and in the hearts of many than it already is. “Taikatalvi” is a beautiful song and I had to actually go out and see the physical album track listing to believe 100% that the first song of this album was such a prominent ode to their home country.
Of course, ” Storytime”, the first single, is extremely epic. However, when I first heard it, I did not believe this was the best song off Imaginaerum (before hearing it in its entirety) and I was right. “Storytime” definitely encompasses the album, and the direction in which Tuomas Holopainen (keyboardist) took the band musically and lyrically. “Storytime” is almost like the dropping of the cloak, “Tada! This is the new Nightwish”. Though “new” might be to strong of a word. Imaginaerum isn’t entirely of a different color than before, however, there is definitely a new freedom apparent, that Tuomas was able to explore. “Storytime” is a great introduction to his new found wings, as well as a great introduction to the album giving a preview of the different influential elements to come in the rest of the album.
Notable Lyrically: “The Tale That Reads You”.
“Ghost River” immediately takes view of Nightwish from a different perspective, blasting off with a powerful guitar riff, toning the symphonic aspect down a bit (a bit), and bringing emphasis to the vocals. It exhibits the vocal diversity beautifully with a duo between Annette and Marco. The contrast of the emphasis on vocals and a deeper metal feel, shows Nightwish from a different angle than “Storytime”. Then, adding the choir of children not only adds to the dark feel of the album, but also touches on Tuomas’s affinity with childhood and the influence it had on this album.
Notable Lyrically: The theme of innocence, Annette might represent the beauty of innocence while Marco might represent the fate of loss of innocence throughout life.
“Slow, Love, Slow” has a beautifully unexpected Jazzy feel to it. Annette’s vocals sound absolutely at home with the Jazz bass in the background, and the piano to compliment. “Slow, Love, Slow” is a total twist around from the previous songs yet still seems to have a perfect place on the album and an interesting peer into what else Nightwish is capable of. The switch from bluesy undistorted guitar solo, to heavy grungy metal guitar riffs is almost expected, almost confusing yet still seems perfectly at home and naturally part of the Imaginaerum decor.
Notable Lyrically: “Intoxicated by a major chord” – Musical reference? “I wonder, do I love you or the thought of you, only the weak are not lonely”
“I Want My tears Back”. I literally held my face in awe during the intro. The instantaneous mix of heavy metal guitar, Marco’s voice, and folk instruments was almost unbearably amazing. The song continues onto a more familiar Nightwish path with symphonic accompaniment, Marco’s voice, and almost signature Nightwish beat and melody (but not in a bad way). I must say Annette’s voice is showcased much better on this album, as is Marco’s. The duet’s and melding of Marco’s and Annette’s vocals flow much smoother as well. The call and response between electric guitar and folk instruments is genius as well and also flows so smoothly you almost forget how culturally different they are. However, I have to mention, the riff that wakes the Iron Maiden fan in me with its similarity to “Dance of Death”, but really, you cannot write music these days without it already having been done before. On a different note, this song made me realize how some bands who consider themselves “folk metal” can’t even pull off such a smooth transition and complementation of electric heavy with acoustic folk instruments as they did and continue to do throughout the album.
“Scaretale” is a perfect name for the song. You instantly get it, with the intro of children chanting the infamous “ring around the rosy”. Then, after another eerie allusion to childhood, the song powers ahead full force with heavy riffs, enchanting symphonic background, and a touch of electronic trimming. Annette’s dramatic vocals lead into the theatrical monologue performed by the “ring leader” which gives off an almost tangible visual of what I’m sure will be present in the movie. What really got me, was the almost “humppa” sounding music accompanying the “ring leaders” speech. Which, in a way, made me feel like I should be watching a Tim Burton movie. The pipe organ is definitely expected at the end.
“Arabesque”, definitely gives you the instantaneous imagery of what the name entails, an Arabian scene. Slowly transforming into a more relative piece with the drums, chorus and symphonic background. This was finally the instrumental I was half expecting from a few of the songs before.
“Turn Loose The Mermaids” tones down to another beautiful swirl of acoustic and folk instruments with Annette’s voice. I can easily imagine, while listening to this music (specially the piano) the beautiful countryside of Finland. Though the vocals and lyrics aren’t as flowing as the music, it is still a beautiful piece. The somewhat tribal drumming that comes in, smoothly transitions into an almost western sounding bridge, giving the ballad a very unique twist.
Notable Lyrics: Part of me wants to find the metaphorical meaning in the lyrics, at the same time the other part of me tells me to hush and simply listen to the story Tuomas is trying to tell.
The melody of “The Crow, The Owl and the Dove” is somewhat mainstream, almost poppy, but has just enough Nightwish in it to still nestle comfortably among the other songs. However, the lyrics are 100% Tuomas “Don’t give me love/Don’t give me faith/wisdom nor pride/give innocence instead”. Though it is one of the least heavy tracks on the album, I found myself listening to it on repeat for a bit, again, there’s just something about it that strikes a chord in me, as do many other songs on the album.
In “Rest Calm”, the fact that Marco’s vocals introduce the song makes it feel whole in a way. It makes sense that his vocals have their level of prominence. The heavy guitars bleed well into his voice which blends well with Annette and takes the music between tempo’s and textures smoothly. The mix of heavy , delicate, fast and slow, though different, all flow extremely well. However, some parts seem a bit too epic for the song, and the song itself is a bit repetitive. Compared to the other masterpieces on this album, this song pales in comparison but by no means could be considered bad, weak, or anything of the sort.
“Last Ride of the Day”, however, starts off with a symphonic bang. The lyrics give an unexpected metaphorical look at what might possibly be a day in the touring life and ties in the whole “carnival of life” theme of the album. At one part, Marco’s voice and Annette’s voice meld together so well it sounds like one. Like I said before, this album is finally showcasing Annette’s (as well as Marco’s) vocal talent and how well they work together.
“Song of Myself”: 1.”From A Dusty Bookshelf” is reminiscent of “Amaranth”, or maybe that’s just the familiar chanting. 2. “All That Great Heart Lying Still”…Annette’s vocals really shine in this song but for some reason I think more of Marco’s voice might have contributed well, due to its darker heavier nature. It’s also interesting how Tuomas keeps alluding to the “Dead Boy” as he also did in “Last Ride of the Day”. 3. The breakdown in “Piano Black” however, flaunts Annettes depth once more as “Slow, Love, Slow” did. 4.”Love”. The parts seem to gradually get slower and darker… and I have to take a deep breath while reading the lyrics. As the lyrics get gradually deeper,I found myself turning the page of the album booklet as if I were in mid novel right at the climax of the story. It strikes me that,”While violated and imprisoned by technology”, one of the most inspiring lines, is whispered. I hear the poetry as if Tuomas was telling it to me from his own lips even though it is masked in an array of vocal characters. Again we see the musical reference ” An there forever remains that change from G to Em”.
After the epic monologue that was “Song of Myself: Love”… “Imaginaerum” definitely sounds and feels like an outro to a heart stopping, chest aching movie you just saw. I feel like the lights should be slowly coming up and -stretch- people filing out of the movie theater. Wow.
- Ghost River
- Slow, Love, Slow
- I Want My Tears Back
- Turn Loose The Mermaids
- Rest Calm
- The Crow, The Owl And The Dove
- Last Ride Of The Day
- Song Of Myself
I Want My Tears Back