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Nightwish - 'HUMAN. :II: NATURE.' Album Review


1. Music

2. Noise

3. Shoemaker

4. Harvest

5. Pan

6. How’s The Heart?

7. Procession

8. Tribal

9. Endlessness

10. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Vista

11. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – The Blue

12. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – The Green

13. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Moors

14. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Aurorae

15. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Quiet As The Snow

16. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Anthropocene – Including “Hurrian Hymn To Nikkal”

17. All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Ad Astra

I think it’s fair to say that Nightwish are the most famous of all Symphonic Metal bands. They’ve been around for 24 years, and are easily the band everyone thinks of when discussing female-fronted Symphonic Metal bands. And considering how much I enjoy female-fronted Symphonic Metal bands you would imagine that I’ve been a Nightwish fan for years, but they always seem to have been on the edge of my radar rather than in the centre of it. I’ve heard a few songs over the years, but I think that this is the first Nightwish album I’ve ever comprehensively listened to. And it’s quite funny that on this occasion it feels like two albums. Confused? Let me explain..

This album is split quite definitively into two sections. The first part (tracks 1-9, which are the first CD of the physical version) are the more traditional Symphonic Metal that the band are famous for. As you can imagine from a band who have been doing this for more than twenty years, these tracks are well-polished and absolutely what you would expect from a band of this calibre. The second part of the album (Tracks 10-17, aka CD2) is more like a traditional classical symphony with the music being predominately orchestral and forming one whole piece divided into movements more than eight individual songs/pieces,

And both halves are pretty good to be fair! I am the absolute target market for this album, as I love huge Symphonic Metal and am also a classically trained musician as well. So I think to best give an accurate impression of this, I should approach the two halves separately.

So Part one then, what do I think? Well it starts with a slow burner in “Music”, a song that sets that atmosphere for the album very nicely, even if it doesn’t stand out as one of my favourite tracks, and then the whole album gets kicked a notch up with “Noise”. One of my favourite tracks on the album, this is a beautiful mix of everything I want in a song – catchy riffs, beautiful production, great lyrics and it never stays still enough to be considered boring!

And from there, the album doesn’t really let up. “Shoemaker” is a headbanger, “Harvest” successfully mashes a Folk song with a Metal song and is such a weird mix that although it shouldn’t work it really does! “Pan” showcases a lovely eerie vibe and “How’s The Heart?” feels the most like a traditional track – if this was ten years ago, I would put money on this being the lead single.

Then into the final three tracks of Part One – “Procession” is slow and atmospheric, “Tribal” is (to quote the young people of today) an ‘absolute banger’, and Endlessness is an epic closer for this part of 'HUMAN. :II: NATURE.'.

Then comes the second part. Now the review of this is going to much shorter as I feel that discussing it track by track would be pointless. This is a symphony – it is designed to be listened to from start to finish. And, if I’m honest, it’s beautiful. It meanders when it wants to, but is direct when it needs to be, it is enthralling and all-embracing and emotional. Though I do wonder how many people will just switch off after track 9 and never listen to the second half.

And I guess that’s the point, isn’t it. There will be some people – be they die hard Nightwish fans or lapsed classical musicians like myself who will get swept up in this epic musical tale, and there will be people who are just looking for some classic Symphonic Metal, for whom this may well be too much.

So how to conclude this review? It contains one disc of everything you would expect from a Nightwish album – huge epic songs, beautifully crafted and well performed. And it also contains a disc of something you were probably not expecting, but (and I’ve just checked) as this double CD costs the same as a single CD would normally do, you aren’t losing anything – so it may be best to consider the second disc a bonus – it may not be for everyone, but where’s the harm?

But it is, most definitely, aimed at me. This album of two halves provides music for all moods – whether you are angry, happy, lonely, content – if you like Nightwish, you will definitely love the first half of the album, and if you enjoy music that takes you on an emotional journey, then the second half will be a smash hit too.

I can’t recommend this enough. It’s an album for fans, an album for non-fans – it’s an album for everyone.

Review - Michael Braunton

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