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Review: New Nightwish singer makes studio debut

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” has been highly anticipated by long-time Nightwish fans ever since the replacement of former vocalist, Anette Olzon, with Floor Jansen in 2013. This is the first studio release featuring Jansen’s vocals, and it’s been long overdue since “Imaginaerum” in 2011.

Like many fans, Jansen won my heart with her kick-ass vocals and goddess-like stage presence in the live DVD, “Showtime, Storytime.” After seeing what she can do on stage, hearing her voice in Nightwish’s latest masterpiece is breathtaking. Not only is Jansen’s voice the perfect combination of original frontwoman Tarja Turunen’s operatic voice and Olzon’s light melodies, but she also brings a heavy edge with gritty metal vocals — all giving Nightwish an entirely new range of sound.

It’s not difficult to see that Tuomas Holopainen, the main songwriter, definitely had fun playing with this new aspect in the 11-song compilation. The track list bounces from soft, melodic songs like “Élan” to hard, rugged tracks with heavy riffs like “Yours is an Empty Hope.” Nightwish has never released an album as diverse and thrilling as this one.

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is stirring in both the sound and the content. Unlike past CDs, in which the main themes center on magic and fantasy, the eighth release focuses on the values and perceptions of human life and how they evolve along with the physical life forms in this world. Leave it to Holopainen to tackle the meaning of life in 78 minutes.

Though the band is notorious for exceedingly lengthy songs, Nightwish is pushing it with the 24-minute long track, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It’s not the length of the song that kills it — it’s the lack of music. The majority of the song is sound effects and narration.

Though the parts that actually include lyrics and instruments are undeniably epic, it’s hard not to feel disappointed after growing accustomed to songs like “The Poet and the Pendulum” from “Dark Passion Play” or “Song of Myself” from “Imaginaerum,” both songs that exceed ten minutes but that keep the music going for the majority of them. The fact that this is the final track on the CD adds to the disappointment.

Despite this flaw, the Nightwish members have truly outdone themselves with this one. Marco Hietala, bassist, is more captivating than ever with his male vocals. The compatibility between his and Jansen’s voices make the songs flow smoothly but excitingly at the same time.

On top of that, mastermind Holopainen finally allows listeners to hear his voice in “My Walden” and “Edema Ruh,” which is what makes them my two favorite tracks. The diversity in the band’s dynamics is sure to appeal to all Nightwish fans, whether you’ve pledged your loyalty to Turunen, Olzon or Jansen. Those who haven’t heard of Nightwish before are bound to fall in love with every member of the band as the record highlights talents of each individual.

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is an epic tale addressing the deepest foundations from which all life is born. Anyone with a taste for symphonic music that makes one think deeply will certainly enjoy this album. Just be sure to give the whole track list a listen — one song simply does not do this masterpiece justice.

Skylar Griego is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo.

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