Nightwish: Imaginaerum - The Score

Symphonic Finns show their subtle side

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It’s impressive how smoothly last year’s magnificent Imaginaerum has been turned into evocative film music. Essentially, The Score takes the musical highlights from that album (with a few odd exclusions – the glorious Celtic melody from I Want My Tears Back being the most noticeable absentee) and uses them to flavour passages of pure symphonic – in other words, virtually no electric guitars – mood.

The references are fairly overt, but they’re well executed and carry Nightwish’s character. The rumbling low strings of Undertow (the adaptation of Ghost River) smacks of Hans Zimmer, Sundown reworks Turn Loose The Mermaids as Last Of The Mohicans, and the closing gentleness of From G To E Minor is so Howard Shore you can almost hear Gandalf commanding, “Fly, you fools!”

The orchestration and arrangement are extremely skilfully handled and rather beautiful. Structurally, it’s clearly geared to fit the narrative of the film it’s taken from rather than thematic progression, and much of it is given over to atmospherics as opposed to hook-laden tunes – a feel exaggerated by the necessary, now ironic, rarity of vocals – but that’s not the aim with this album. That is imagery and texture, and on those fronts, it’s lush, dynamic and delightful. Nightwish have shown a more subtle facet.