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Nightwish|Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Deluxe Version)

Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Deluxe Version)

Nightwish

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The eighth studio long-player from the audacious Finnish symphonic metal outfit, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is also the first Nightwish outing to feature new vocalist Floor Jansen (After Forever, Revamp), who joined the group on the road in 2012 after the mid-tour departure of Anette Olzen. Nightwish has endured numerous lineup changes throughout its nearly 20-year career, but the band's sound has remained remarkably consistent, due in large part to the stabilizing presence of project founder and chief songwriter Tuomas Holopainen, whose overall vision for the band remains unchanged. Endless Forms Most Beautiful, like most Nightwish outings, is a concept album, though unlike 2011's narrative-driven Imaginaerum, it's a loosely conceptual affair that, according to Holopainen, celebrates the "beauty of life, the beauty of existence, nature, science." The title is taken from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and the reliably opulent (full choir and live orchestra) inaugural cut, "Shudder Before the Beautiful," opens appropriately with a spoken word intro from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. It's a truly majestic piece and an excellent showcase for Jansen, who brings both gravitas and versatility to the table. Whether it's lilting Celtic folk-rock ("Élan"), Enya-esque fantasy-pop ("The Eyes of Sharbat Gula"), or straight-up, anthemic power metal ("My Walden"), she never overplays her hand, but she also never gets lost in the mix, which is impressive considering the swirling cacophony of sound cooked up by Holopainen and crew. Overall, Endless Forms Most Beautiful succeeds despite its strict adherence to the Nightwish formula. It's a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders, both expansive and familiar, and it's arguably the group's most immediate-sounding record in years.

© James Christopher Monger /TiVo

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Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Deluxe Version)

Nightwish

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1
Shudder Before the Beautiful
00:06:29

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

2
Weak Fantasy
00:05:24

Marco Hietala, Composer, Lyricist - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

3
Élan
00:04:47

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

4
Yours Is an Empty Hope
00:05:39

Marco Hietala, Lyricist - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

5
Our Decades in the Sun
00:06:38

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

6
My Walden
00:04:39

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

7
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
00:05:08

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

8
Edema Ruh
00:05:15

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

9
Alpenglow
00:04:49

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

10
The Eyes of Sharbat Gula
00:06:04

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

11
The Greatest Show on Earth
00:24:01

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer, Lyricist - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

12
Shudder Before the Beautiful (Instrumental)
00:06:20

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

13
Weak Fantasy (Instrumental)
00:05:25

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

14
Élan (Instrumental)
00:04:46

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

15
Yours Is an Empty Hope (Instrumental)
00:05:39

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

16
Our Decades in the Sun (Instrumental)
00:06:39

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

17
My Walden (Instrumental)
00:04:38

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

18
Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Instrumental)
00:05:07

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

19
Edema Ruh (Instrumental)
00:05:16

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

20
Alpenglow (Instrumental)
00:04:49

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

21
The Eyes of Sharbat Gula (Instrumental)
00:06:04

Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

22
The Greatest Show on Earth (Instrumental)
00:24:08

Marco Hietala, Composer - Tuomas Holopainen, Composer - Nightwish, MainArtist

2015 Nuclear Blast 2015 Nuclear Blast

Album review

The eighth studio long-player from the audacious Finnish symphonic metal outfit, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is also the first Nightwish outing to feature new vocalist Floor Jansen (After Forever, Revamp), who joined the group on the road in 2012 after the mid-tour departure of Anette Olzen. Nightwish has endured numerous lineup changes throughout its nearly 20-year career, but the band's sound has remained remarkably consistent, due in large part to the stabilizing presence of project founder and chief songwriter Tuomas Holopainen, whose overall vision for the band remains unchanged. Endless Forms Most Beautiful, like most Nightwish outings, is a concept album, though unlike 2011's narrative-driven Imaginaerum, it's a loosely conceptual affair that, according to Holopainen, celebrates the "beauty of life, the beauty of existence, nature, science." The title is taken from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and the reliably opulent (full choir and live orchestra) inaugural cut, "Shudder Before the Beautiful," opens appropriately with a spoken word intro from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. It's a truly majestic piece and an excellent showcase for Jansen, who brings both gravitas and versatility to the table. Whether it's lilting Celtic folk-rock ("Élan"), Enya-esque fantasy-pop ("The Eyes of Sharbat Gula"), or straight-up, anthemic power metal ("My Walden"), she never overplays her hand, but she also never gets lost in the mix, which is impressive considering the swirling cacophony of sound cooked up by Holopainen and crew. Overall, Endless Forms Most Beautiful succeeds despite its strict adherence to the Nightwish formula. It's a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders, both expansive and familiar, and it's arguably the group's most immediate-sounding record in years.

© James Christopher Monger /TiVo

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