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Articles Home » 2007 Articles » Nightwish - 2007 Dark Passion Play
Nightwish - 2007 Dark Passion Play

ARTIST: Nightwish
ALBUM: Dark Passion Play
LABEL: Spinefarm
YEAR: 2007


LINEUP: Anette Olzon - vocals * Emppu Vuorinen - guitars * Marco Hietala - bass, vocals * Tuomas Holopainen - keyboards, piano * Jukka Nevalainen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Poet And The Pendulum * 02 Bye Bye Beautiful * 03 Amaranth * 04 Cadence Of Her Last Breath * 05 Master Passion Greed * 06 Eva * 07 Sahara * 08 Whoever Brings The Night * 09 For The Heart I Once Had * 10 The Islander * 11 Last Of The Wilds * 12 7 Days To The Wolves * 13 Meadows Of Heaven



Perhaps I am the wrong person to be reviewing this album, but land it I did. Despite this Finnish outfit being one of the top bands to come out of Finland, their style of symphonic/gothic metal doesn't do a lot for me. To be honest, the only reason I am flicking the virtual pen at 'Dark Passion Play' is due to new singer Anette Olzon, previously with AORsters Alyson Avenue. Being a big fan of her work, it was always going to be interesting to see how she fitted in to a new type of sound (for her at least). In my opinion, she has amazing clarity and power, and thankfully doesn't get bogged down by the operatic bombast this band is famous for. She provides vocals and is given space to breathe, with musical arrangements to match the mood. Their previous singer Tarja Turunen by comparison may have been an inspired operatic choice, but she literally lacked 'balls' if you know what I mean. The heavier moments are still sung by bassist Marco Hietala, and though many say he's given too much room, this twin approach for vocals is maintained for 'Dark Passion Play'.

The Songs
If there is one thing I have noticed, the material on this album is wide of scope, and navigates different territories. In parts, we get a mixture of cinematic values plus celtic and eastern influences. What is also noticeable is the difference between the front half of the album versus the back half. The front is full-on, while the back half is quite restrained and mellow by comparison. A powerful statement is issued with the 14 minute epic opening of 'The Poet And The Pendulum'. An ambitious opening statement for the band and their new singer, perhaps trying an attempt to try and blow away the cobwebs of their acrimonious split with Tarja Turunen. Even for these confused ears, I quite enjoyed this track after a few repeat play listens. It's bombastic, melodic, operatic without being too shrill-of-ear, and energetic. Raw power is the phrase that best describes 'Bye Bye Beautiful - this one is sung mainly by Hietala. Anette gets to strut her stuff on 'Amaranth' - displaying commercial tendencies, while 'Cadence Of Her Last Breath' is an exquisite piece, topped by some fantastic guitarwork from Vuorinen. 'Master Passion Greed' shows the band at their metallic best, melding steel to an orchestral background flavour. Be interested to see this one played live. By contrast 'Eva' is the wind-down moment, allowing everyone to take a breath. 'Sahara' takes us on an eastern journey, another powerful statement in-transit. I enjoyed 'Whoever Brings The Night', typical Nightwish bombast with big choral like vocal parts thickening up the sound. Definitely the album's change-up moment is 'For The Heart I Once Had', with its commercial sound and faint whiff of a celtic influence, though the chorus is still quite full. The celtic flavour is ripe on 'The Islander', it meanders through a traditional sound that would please fans of Iona and their ilk. It segues into the instrumental 'Last Of The Wilds' - imagine Dare on symphonic metal steroids, and this is what it would sound like. The symphonic bombast returns for '7 Days To The Wolves', while the album closes out with the ballad 'Meadows Of Heaven'.

In Summary
On 'Dark Passion Play', Nightwish's brand of symphonic metal is akin to listening to a soundtrack of a fantasy styled movie. Think along the lines of the movie '300' - in some parts the music is an ideal fit. It is bombastic, even more so now, and for long time fans this will bound to be their number one album of the year. There is so much going on with this album, it is pretty difficult to absorb in one sitting. At 75 minutes running time, there's a lot to digest, but my advice is to pick it apart in smaller chunks. As a result, you will keep coming back to this album - it's like reading a good book. I appreciate their conviction, but for me, it is still a sound I can't quite get into, though this album has gone some way to bringing me onside. For what its worth, the band are very good at what they do, and no doubt they will reap the rewards of their endeavor for some time to come. For the sheer industrious nature of the musicianship and arrangement on this album, this team deserve a few medals.

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