Album Review: Nightwish – Hvman :||: Natvre
Thinking big has been such an intrinsic part of Nightwish’s DNA for so long that you do wonder if keyboard maestro and creative magician Tuomas Holopainen actually understands that it’s possible to make music without using The Lord Of The Rings soundtrack as some sort of benchmark. To wit, even elements that once seemed like giant steps for the Finnish symphonic metallers – like fulfilling his classical dreams by employing the services of The London Session Orchestra on 2005’s Once breakthrough – are now simply what this band do. And yet they still build, and on 2015’s superb Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the idea of the very nature of life was tackled to such a degree that they got Richard Dawkins to lend a few words.
What’s surprising about Hvman:||:Natvre, then, isn’t that it’s a double album, nor that the second disc is entirely instrumental, classical music, but that it’s taken them nine albums to get round to such a thing. And also that the results, while banging enough Nightwish material, aren’t quite massive enough that they’re struggling to fit onto the canvas.
First track proper, Noise, is a classic Nightwish statement of grandeur, while Shoemaker delivers a moment of full-on opera, and Pan’s changes from major to minor are genuinely skilful, as the song sounds like its descending into madness. Elsewhere, Tribal boasts a chugging, heavy riff, and Endlessness has moments of pure doom. In these moments, the pomp and splendour at the heart of this band shines impressively, a testament to their natural skill and creativity.
However, it does feel a tad one-paced, and in the folky Harvest, a cheese-fest, even by Nightwish’s standards, the album delivers perhaps the lamest thing this band have ever done. And while the classical second half should be applauded for it’s artistic bravery, it’s not as OTT as you’d hope, more background music like the soundtrack to a movie you haven’t actually seen. Clearly, though, it shows that were you in need of a rock star to score a movie, Tuomas is more than capable.
At its best, Hvman:||:Natvre has the impressive magic that has made Nightwish one of Europe’s biggest bands. But there’s a feeling this time that for such a big concept, things haven’t gone quite far enough.
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