This is the second review I write about anything so if it’s unprofessional then be easy on me, I’m still inexperienced in those things…
This album differs from the previous Nightwish albums, not just in being their first studio album which features the new vocalist Floor Jansen, but also in its theme. Nightwish drifted away from their previous fantasy/pagan/mythology atmosphere in favor of a theme which is new to them: Evolution. Whether they started meddling with scientific issues to become another Epica, or because Tuomas reached the peak of his creativity in Imaginaerum and the movie and he wanted something new; the question is open.
The album opens with one of its best tracks in my opinion, Shudder Before The Beautiful. it is powerful, symphonic, and reminds of the era when Tarja Turunen was the vocalist of Nightwish, especially in the album Once.
The next track, Weak Fantasy, is the typical song which you would expect to get when you have Floor Jansen as a vocalist, though it has some symphonic elements.
Elan, in my opinion, is the weakest track in this album. It sounds like an awkward mix between Evanescence/Delain and Eluveitie, and being a major folk metal fan, the only thing that is good about it is its folk-y/Celtic sound in my opinion. It is a single after all, so what to expect? Yours Is An Empty Hope is almost the same type as Weak Fantasy; the difference is that it sounds like a song from Dark Passion Play or Imaginaerum sung by Floor Jansen instead of the other ex-vocalist Anette Olzon
Our Decades In The Sun is a ballad, it never harms to have one or two ballads in a symphonic metal album to change the mood a bit. My Walden (named after a book by Henry David Thoreau) is special with its distinctive Celtic sound, and shows, like some tracks on Imaginaerum, what Troy Donockley has really added to Nightwish.
The title track is another symphonic song, and Edema-Ruh is “slower” than the rest (except the ballad) but still it’s not bad. After it comes Alpenglow, another one of my favorites; it starts with the most beautiful intro on the whole album, and I really like Floor’s vocals in it!
The Eyes of Sharbat Gula is an instrumental prelude to the last track, The Greatest Show on Earth; aka The “Richest” Song on The Album! It contains everything; growls, clean vocals, and even Floor’s operatic abilities are clear! However, there are two things which the longest song in the history of Nightwish could be better without. First, the animal sounds. Okay, we got it Nightwish, the theme is evolution, no need for jungle sounds to ruin the most beautiful song on the album. Second, Richard Dawkins. Though he did not say in this song anything anti-religious as I was worried, still… call me paranoid, but the fact that Nightwish featured him on the album could mean that they approve of everything which he had said/done, including the anti-religious prejudice and this is disappointing. Plus, the song could be way shorter without the jungle noise and Mr. Dawkins recitals. They are repeating the Song of Myself issue of producing an “long, epic song” where almost half of it is poem recitals not singing.
Not a bad album overall, but Nightwish can do much better. 5.5/10.