As the first album to feature new vocalist Floor Jansen, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a bombastic introduction. Back with a huge timpani roll is the orchestra that gave 2004 album Once its epic sound.
Opening track Shudder Before The Beautiful is a choral ocean of noise that takes us straight into Nightwish’s own carefully curated fantasy land. Two themes stand out – heavy Celtic influences, and lyrics that explore evolution and the purpose of humankind.
Main man Tuomas Holopainen lists Darwin and Richard Dawkins as influences, and a monologue from Dawkins after the 23-minute The Greatest Show On Earth is a sobering ending note that reminds us not to fuck up our planet – albeit put rather more eloquently.
An ambitious, if challenging, listen, Endless Forms Most Beautiful shows Nightwish are still a complex, philosophical entity who aren’t afraid to make a grand statement./o:p