Nightwish - Human. :II: Nature.

Nightwish Human. :II: Nature. cover
Human. :II: Nature.
Nuclear Blast
Nightwish might have begun like a Stratovarius clone with female operatic vocals, to turn into a theatrical pop entity, when Annette Ozlon joined and with their third vocalist change, they’ve turned into a pretty symphonic, theatrical and pop beast, mainly because of the vocal prowess of one Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, Revamp), who now towers over behind the mic.
On their ninth proper album – spread over two CDs the band tries to keep things fresh by somewhat trying to shuffle the deck, but the results are mixed at best.
“Music” starts with a very long and cinematic introduction that last a little shy of three minutes, before the rest of the song palindromes between Kari Rueslatten like vocalisms that build into a full on symph rock track that’s not too unlike latter day Amberian Dawn. Nice guitars and orchestration, but not something ground breaking and it seems to really be blessed by an exceptional vocal performance, than to be overflowing from inspiration.
“Noise” is not too dissimilar, but it’s decidedly darker and more direct, poking fun at how modern life seems to have sucked all joy out of living, making it almost a chore, it’s a power pop metal ditto that Jansen carries over an interesting melody, but it really only gets interesting past a breakdown, when it goes into some interesting orchestral maneuvers (but not in the dark).
“Shoemaker” has an intricate, interlaced melody, interrupted by some soft Troy Donockley singing albeit briefly, before Jansen delivers a part almost worth of her better AF moments. The song then goes into a rather long cinematic outro, that however doesn’t outstay its welcome, leaving overall a very positive impression.
“Harvest” is very tribal and folk inspire with Donockley assuming lead vocals. While it’s soft, melodic and pleasant, I don’t feel like it bristles with energy, well at least not until its middle where it goes jig-a-metal-jig, into Irish pub tin whistle metal territory (probably ullinean pipes).
“Pan” is a lot more dramatic and Jansen’s very pure and sparkly delivery seems to gather it through the dark instrumental storm that occurs over the second minute and seems to reiterate a little later, while it lacks a brilliant chorus, it has adequate melodies and very cool dynamics.
“How’s the Heart” is a soft, almost contemporary sounding ballad, which gets electrified midway. It’s up to a point pretty spartan, but the pipe and keys that weave into the bare-beat sort of create an interesting contrast. Again Jansen’s great vocal prowess, that vastly surpasses both her predecessors, manages to gift the song more merit than it probably would get otherwise.
“Procession” has a soft begging and is simpler than most other songs for the most part. While it’s not amazing, it pretty endearing in its own subtle way.
“Tribal” is pretty tribal, rhythmically, with a symphonic undertow… and it gets pretty extreme by Nightwish standards, in a semi industrial fashion with vocals that one would feel unlikely to encounter in an album by the Finns.
Last but not least, “Endlessness” is mostly carried by Marco Hietala, who might have a rather peculiar timbre, but is pretty interesting and musical, in his performance… again a rather left-field song, by the band that doesn’t come together before its latter portion.
The entire second CD is occupied by largely instrumental soundscapes, under the general title “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World” interrupted by the occasional narration, spread some eight tracks of which, “The Blue, “Moors”, and “Aurorae” seems to the best picks.
But while Nightwish’s ninth album bristles with the professionalism and combined talent of all their current members, the inspiration quotient seems to be rather low, thus resulting in less than stellar impressions overall.
It’s criminal to use such a powerhouse vocalist on such generic material. One of the weaker albums by the established Finns that is unlikely to cut their high flying short, but it’s also equally unlikely to be mentioned in the same breath as of some of the band’s more successful works.