Endless Forms Most Beautiful
30th March 2015 – Nuclear Blast
01. Shudder Before The Beautiful
02. Weak Fantasy
04. Yours Is An Empty Hope
05. Our Decades In The Sun
06. My Walden
07. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
08. Edema Ruh
10. The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula
11. The Greatest Show On Earth
“The greatest solace lies in understanding, this ancient unseen stream, a shudder before the beautiful.”
Since their inception in 1997, Nightwish have undeniably become the largest name in symphonic metal. With their consistent output of powerful yet captivating records, it’s no wonder that they’ve earned themselves a legion of hardcore fans. Endless Forms Most Beautiful continues this pattern, and with its with tales of life, naturalism and evolution, the record is more unmistakably human than most.
Opening with narration by prolific evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins – whose spoken word sections throughout the record really help to enhance the enormity of the song writing on show here – “Shudder Before The Beautiful” and follow-up “Weak Fantasy” evoke very classic Nightwish stylings; they’re heavy and bombastic, and help cement new vocalist Floor Jansen into the band admirably. Swaying between pure power and delicate harmony, both come backed by the uniqueness of Marco Heitala’s vocal and driving bass lines.
But it’s on lead single “Élan” is where the album really begins to come into its own. The melodic flute opening opens a track that is Nightwish at their most folky, and is just as much about what isn’t being played as what it is, as instruments fade in and out of the mix, building to a crescendo that peaks as “Yours Is An Empty Hope” begins.
The standard ballad on this record comes in the shape of “Our Decades In The Sun”; it’s emotionally charged, with shifting harmonies and bluesy guitar sweeps that wouldn’t be out of place on a Pink Floyd record. Meanwhile, the instrumental “The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula” - taken from the namesake of the iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ National Geographic Magazine cover – is Nightwish at their most progressive, fully utilising Pip Williams’ orchestra to breathtaking effect.
Closing the the record is the twenty four minute epic “The Greatest Show On Earth”, a symphony in five exquisite parts which details the evolution of the planet and our place on it. Everything about this thing is massive; it utilises every single member of the band, the accompanying orchestra, and yet further narration from Professor Dawkins. The track begins in the dark, with down-tuned guitars carried by an undertone of horns and strings, showing the violence of our planet after her birth. As man comes to life and the planet calms down, the tones become lighter and more folky. It allows us to really explore our place on this earth, and that even if it won’t be permanent, we should appreciate our brief moment in the sun.
Nightwish are no strangers to the grandiose – to breathing life into symphonies whilst delivering thoughtful yet awe inspiring lyrics – but Endless Forms Most Beautiful is their magnum opus, and it’s clear that the band have taken their formula to even more dizzying heights. From this record you learn a handful of things: the most important being that even when a style becomes synonymous with a name it can still be contorted into something that continues to impress. This is the album you always wanted Nightwish to create, and now they have.