Endless Forms Most Beautiful is the stunning eight album from Finnish giants, Nightwish. It’s the first to feature impact full vocals from Floor Jensen. After the epic Imaginaerum was released back in 2011, the question amongst Nightwish fanatics was this: how do they top that, or have they run out of steam? Endless Forms Most Beautiful is actually one of the more down to earth works from the band, particularly with the concept based around Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Although main vocalist Tuomas Holopainen said that the album is loosely concept there is definitely a pro life theme going on.
Like all great albums, Endless Forms Most Beautiful tells a great story through the narrative and music. You can see the development of Tuomas Holopainen’s songwriting talents from the first album, Angels Fall First, to now have seriously improved. He knows how to keep the momentum going in a similar way that a good writer does in a book. For instance, the album starts off with the thrilling ‘Shudder before the Beautiful’ that has narration from Richard Dawkins. The song is so dramatic that it sounds like it belongs in a movie soundtrack.
Then there are slower moments in the album such as ‘Our Decades in the Sun’ that has a romantic ballad feel to it, and brings the dramatics to a halt for a moment. Things pick up the pace again particularly towards the end with ‘Alphenglow’ that has grand, chilling violins and electrifying guitar riffs. Before the album ends with the utterly epic, 24 minute ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ which is the most progressive, adventurous track that the band have ever embarked upon.
The album has a drastically different feel from the band’s last effort. Although typical Nightwish conventions are still there such as big choruses, exciting orchestral sections and Celtic flair still exist, the music has become much darker and more progressive. The first single they released – ‘Elan’ – features all of these. The song is made up of a catchy, Celtic riff, hauntingly beautiful piano and loud, operatic vocals from Jensen. Whereas songs like ‘Weak Fantasy’ consist mainly of pounding chord progressions, wicked vocals and a huge orchestra that truly enhances the heavier aspect of their music giving it more depth. The band have come a long way and they’ve had a lot of changes throughout their history but it’s for the better. It feels as though all the good bits about their past discography have been pulled together to one in Endless Forms Most Beautiful. It may not be one of their most memorable of their albums, but it captures the band’s elegant atmosphere like no other.