Endless Forms Most Beautiful is Nightwish’s 8th studio album, and first with new lead singer Floor Jansen. For anyone hoping that Nightwish would return to their operatic origins with their new singer, this album may come as something of a disappointment.
Despite Floor Jansen singing songs from the Tarja era at live shows, with relative ease, this album has retained the folky flavour of the previous album, which may come as no surprise given Troy Donockley’s permanent inclusion in the band. From my perspective, there is also a lack of vocals from bassist Marco Hietala. His voice still features, but in a far reduced capacity from the past two albums, which I would assume is an effort to showcase their new vocalists talents.
The album opens, and ends, with Richard Dawkins, renowned evolutionary biologist, talking over music. I found this unnecessary, and distracting from the music, and it gives the album an almost smug tone, as Dawkins talks about the evolution of the human race and how wonderful it is to have even been born.
The opening four tracks, including the single, “Élan”, are the highlights for me, with the slower “Our Decades In The Sun” and the instrumental “The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula” being low points. At points, certain songs sound as though riffs from previous albums are being used – the opening track sounds at one point like “Slaying The Dreamer” from Century Child, and the end track has a point which sounds like “The Poet and the Pendulum” from Dark Passion Play. Whether or not this is intentional I don’t know, but the album manages to sound both derivative of their old work and simultaneously not like Nightwish at all.
As a hardcore Nightwish fan, this album is disappointing. As previously mentioned, it doesn’t sound like an album by my favourite band, and although it’s certainly an album that I could listen to over and over, I don’t think it’s likely to enter my permanent album rotation.