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Dark Passion Play

Year: 2007
Format: CD
Label: Spinefarm/Universal/Nuclear Blast
Genre: [Symphonic Power Metal]
Overall Rating: 9.0
Music: 9.0
Production: 8.5

Nightwish's previous album Once turned out to be a real success with over one million copies sold worldwide, but as you probably already know the departing of their singer Tarja Turunen came at the worst possible time. The follow-up to a successful album is rather critical moment, and change of a frontwoman is quite risky. However, Nightwish's sixth album 'Dark Passion Play' proves all doubts unnecessary, as the new vocalist Anette Olzon (Alyson Avenue) turns out to be more diverse with the use of her voice than Turunen. In addition, she also outperforms Tarja by having warmer voice and she also brings pop-sensibilities to the music of Nightwish. Regardless, it becomes fairly apparent on this album that her strength is her soft voice rather than high-pitched wailing.

Musically Nightwish treads the road of symphonic power metal, but they've expanded their horizons a bit on Dark Passion Play. Knowing Holopainen's passion for film music, I can't help but notice some parts' similarity to few famous scores - the outro on The Poet and the Pendulum, for example, reminds me of Blade Runner's OST end title by Vangelis. Interestingly, Daniel Gildenlw also used a similar progression occasionally on Pain of Salvation's Be. Not to get sidetracked, Dark Passion Play features Marco Hietala (Tarot) on vocals more often than earlier, and that's actually a really positive change. Hietala's high energy combined with Olzon's passionate soft vocals stamp this release in a positive way. Additionally the songwriting has become more adventurous, and hence the album keeps the listener intrigued even when listened repeatedly. For the past five days I've been listening to this album, and so far I haven't seen any signs of getting tired (although I favor some tracks over the others). Simply put, this is the most multi-faceted Nightwish album ever released.

Like Once, also this album features the London Session Orchestra and Metro Voices Choir. However, the production has always been the letdown for me on previous Nightwish releases (at least to some extent), and unfortunately Dark Passion Play doesn't change this. While the orchestra sounds great, the drums, for example, don't sound assertive and lack in punch. Additionally, slight distortion leaks into the mix every now and then, but is only noticeable when listened with headphones. Also the vocal processing could have been handled better (there was an audible tuning artifact on Hietala's voice on "The Islander").

Lyrically this album is quite passionate, and despite of being dark in mood also hope is present. The story told is vivid, and one memorable line on the first track, for example, is "Im afraid, so afraid, of being raped / again and again and again / I know I will die alone, but loved". The album lyrics also deal with fairly personal issues, as references to the band's former vocalist Tarja Turunen can be heard on Bye Bye Beautiful, while her husband Marcelo Cabuli gets his share on Master Passion Greed. Nonetheless, it's all done in a good spirit and Holopainen himself also appears on this album (on the epic album opener, which is partly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Pit and the Pendulum"). In similar vein to Poe's story, a gigantic scythe-like pendulum swinging back and forth while slowly moving downwards eventually kills Tuomas in The Poet and the Pendulum. The material is nicely varying throughout the album, and overall Nightwish's Dark Passion Play is a great addition to any symphonic metal listener's collection. It's one of those records that improves with time... the more you listen to it, the more you'll like it.

Release dates: September 26th, 2007 (Finland) & September 28th, 2007 (Rest of the Europe)

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- MAGE (September 25th, 2007)

"Amaranth" video:


Olzon, Anette: Vocals
Hietala, Marco: Bass, Vocals
Vuorinen, Erno "Emppu": Guitars
Holopainen, Tuomas: Keyboards
Nevalainen, Jukka: Drums
Producer: Unavailable
Mixing by: Karmila, Mikko
Mastering by: Jussila, Mika
Nightwish - Dark Passion Play  CD  Cover Image
01. The Poet and the Pendulum
02. Bye Bye Beautiful
03. Amaranth
04. Cadence of Her Last Breath
05. Master Passion Greed
06. Eva
07. Sahara
08. Whoever Brings the Night
09. For the Heart I Once Had
10. The Islander
11. Last of the Wilds
12. 7 Days to the Wolves
13. Meadows of Heaven
Length: 75:46
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