Album: Human :||: Nature.
Release Date: 10th April 2020
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
This review may well be a little bit biased. I love Nightwish, they are a band I have followed for years, and enjoyed. They are genuinely one of my favourite bands to listen to, and also one of my favourite live bands to watch. Having said that, however, this also means I have really high expectations of anything new they bring out, I would be really sad to see any decline in their musical standard.
We open with Music, at 7:23 in length. Ambient noise and the occasional anvil hit greet us, with low strings coming in, and a gradual build up of orchestral instruments, bringing an ominous atmosphere and anticipation of what is to come. Tribal drums and a low chant kick in, with uilleann (?) pipes coming in over the top. We move onto some sci-fi type sounds, with a high female choral vocal over the top, which leads into more orchestra and the start of Floor’s beautiful vocals. This track really shows over her gentler and higher vocal range. There are lots of different sections to this track, all different, yet all seamlessly fitting together, culminating into the more traditional Nightwish sound we know. The guitars, the pure symphony and beauty of the keys and orchestra. It is beautiful, I am almost in tears of joy.
Noise is up next, and is the first single from the album. I knew the album was going to be amazing when I first heard this track. It’s catchy and something to sing along to, without missing that signature Nightwish sound. The style of the track reminds me of Storytime from the Imaginareum album. There’s also the more sinister breakdown with the grittier sounding guitar.
Shoemaker has a mystical, fantastical feel to the name, and the introduction certainly echoes that feeling. The vocals don’t seem to match with the instrumental to me at first, but with a little bit of a listen, it starts to work for me. We also hear Marco for the first time on vocals, in duet and harmony with Floor. It’s a mid-tempo track, with an orchestral and atmospheric interlude, with a female spoken word, characteristic of at least one Nightwish track on the newer albums, and we also get the pleasure of hearing Floor’s operatic vocal style.
The second single from the album, and an entirely different direction from the previous tracks, Harvest is a more acoustic track, with a predominant male vocal, which I believe is Troy. There’s some beautiful a capella vocals too with Floor and Marco joining. It’s a nice, relaxing track, taking me to a beautiful wheat field where unfortunately very few of us can go at the moment. I would love to see this performed live, particularly with the claps before the guitars and pipes kick in, it would be an amazing atmosphere.
Piano and chimes bring us Pan, before a triumphant entrance of the guitars and drums. During the verses, the piano is back, and there’s a much gentler lilt. The chorus is heavier and something I will very much enjoy headbanging to! There is such a contrast between the verses, and then the choruses and bridges. We also hear a bit more of the power Floor has in her vocals to compete with the harsher feel to the instrumentals.
A much more Celtic feeling track, preceded by some heartbeats, How’s The Heart? feels much more uplifting, somewhat similar to Elan, but the Celtic feel is less obvious as the track continues. It is a beautiful track, but perhaps not my favourite, mainly because I was expecting more Celtic vibes and more pipes. Procession has a more sci-fi/synth intro, also with the introduction of piano. It’s a slower feeling track, something to relax to. There’s a beautiful pipe interlude as well. Tribal lives up to its name with the drum rhythms. There’s some tribal chants which mix perfectly with the heavier and more aggressive feel to the main instrumentals when the guitars and bass come in.
Endlessness definitely takes the tempo right now, the intro is a “lighters in the air” instrumental, and then the bass, drums, and strings build up into Marco’s vocal. Although there are some heavier parts, the vast majority of the song is at a “marching” pace, and it’s another track to relax to and take you off to another world. Floor’s predominant vocal comes in a lot later, crystal clear compared to the relative grittiness of Marco’s voice. But the vocals definitely belong to Marco for this song, with Floor taking a back seat.
There is a separate, second set of tracks, all one piece of music entitled “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World, which is separated into the following movements:
Quiet As The Snow
Anthropocene (incl. “Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal”)
I would strongly encourage you all to listen to this and see where the feelings take you. It’s a beautiful piece of music and shows just how talented a compose Tuomas Holopainen is, and how he can work music to shape worlds and images together from sometimes the most basic of instrumentals. This part of the double album is definitely something I will be listening to again through headphones and with my eyes closed. On a nice warm day, it’s a perfect excuse to get outside and safely enjoy and appreciate nature in your garden, or whatever outdoor space you have. I feel this section of the album will give each and every person their own individual journey, and so as not to spoil that, I will leave the listening and judgement to yourselves.
Did I have high expectations for the new Nightwish release? Yes. And did Nightwish fulfil those expectations? Yes. Once again, Tuomas has composed something so incredibly intricate and so beautiful. The roller coaster of emotions are there, it is so easy to get lost in the music. Tuomas has the amazing ability to compose metal music which takes you on some wild imaginary journeys if you allow yourself to succumb.
Floor’s vocals again are spot on, and this album allows her to explore her gentler and more operatic side, whereas their previous release, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, had her more aggressive vocal style emerge. It just shows what a range she has and what a talented vocalist she is.
At times like these, we need some escapism in our lives, and HUMAN :||: Nature provides just that. I eagerly await what Tuomas can conjure up for the next instalment of Nightwish’s musical journey.
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