NOTE–I have not yet heard the whole album, and I haven’t seen any of the DVD. This is sort of a first impression review aimed at people familiar with the band.
Nightwish fans–we’re being cheated. Severely. This 11-track album features 9 live songs (yep, that’s it), 1 B-side and a demo. What kind of live album is this for a band that has released something like 6 albums? Not ONE Tarja-era song is included, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Annette sounds fantastic live (much better than she did on the album, in my opinion) and she definitely performs the songs on stage, so why can’t we hear them? And way to open with “Bye Bye Beautiful,” a very catchy song that should have been titled “F**k You Tarja You Greedy Argentine-Marrying B*tch of a Frontwoman Who Apparently Didn’t Realize That Tuomas Loved You More Than Life Itself And Fired You Because You Didn’t Reciprocate.” Well, it is a little long, admittedly.
Anyway, back to being serious. The songs sound great–they’re incredibly heavy so you can bang your head. However, if you take issue with excessive playback then this album will give you fits. Most of the orchestra parts are used, along with the choirs and backing vocals. You’ll hear two Annettes at once! I do want to reiterate that Annette’s voice on this album is great. I know a lot of Nightwish fans haven’t taken to her yet, but this just might help. She’s also very good with the crowd, which is a definite plus. She does need a little help with her wardrobe though, because she looks like Avril Lavigne raided Hot Topic.
The demo track at the end is “Cadence of Her Last Breath,” one of my favorite songs on the album, but here it’s sung by Marco Hietala and not Annette. (Like the demo version of “Amaranth” on Dark Passion Play.) Marco has a great voice, and his band Tarot sounds fabulous, but on this demo he sounds INCREDIBLY overwrought. He usually does when performing in Nightwish–his vocals in the live songs are the same way. (“Phantom of the Opera” anyone?) No big deal I guess, because the music is pretty overwrought too but it does get wearisome.
We’re screwed yet again on the DVD. It features a documentary and 3 videos. Ladies and gentleman, the documentary is 37 minutes long. That’s it. Would it have been TOO hard to actually give us, oh, maybe AN ACTUAL LIVE CONCERT? Apparently. Or maybe we could have gotten videos that aren’t splashed all over the internet. Apparently not. Roadrunner is awfully stingy when it comes to things like this. On Within Temptation’s “Black Symphony” you get the whole show on DVD, half a show on CD. Here you get half a show on CD and nothing on DVD. Roadrunner, please just give us the whole thing at once. And don’t pull your usual stunt by releasing some special edition a year from now and making us buy the album yet again just to have something we should have gotten in the first place, mmkay?
All in all, the CD is definitely worth buying even if the track list is miniscule, and the DVD doesn’t really cost anything so what the heck. Still, if you’re a true Nightwish fan this is liable to leave you a teensy bit disappointed.