In the life of a band, especially one who’ve been going for the best part of twenty years, the ‘live’ album is usually seen as a chance to pause and take stock. Nightwish have been on quite a run of success in recent years and, after the success of Imaginaerum in 2012 and then 2015’s sumptuous release, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Decades sees the band taking a breather until their next studio album. Which has just been announced as HUMAN. :II: NATURE. set for release on 10th April 2020.
This is a trawl through the entire Nightwish catalogue and with twenty one tracks on this double CD album, no one can say they’re being short changed. There’s something taken from every one of the band’s eight studio albums, with nine tracks alone coming from Oceanborn and Wishmaster, though somewhat surprisingly, only three tracks are taken from Imaginaerum and Endless Forms… despite the fact the latter album is the one which propelled the band from being on the cusp of the big league to becoming a major worldwide concert draw, and it’s their most successful album release. After a quiet intro from Troy Donockley’s Uilleann pipes, vocalist Floor Jansen belts out the opening line “This is the end of all hope” and, from the outset, it’s clear Nightwish are on fire, with Floor in particularly fine form. They play many of their stage classics, including ‘Wish I Had An Angel‘, ‘I Want My Tears Back’, ’10th Man Down’, ‘Amaranth’ and ‘The Kinslayer’, though given how many of their best known songs are offered, it’s curious why stage favourites such as ‘Dark Chest of Wonder’ and ‘Wishmaster’ weren’t included. The set finishes with the seventeen minute track, the epic ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ and ‘Ghost Love Score,’ which ends the set on a very high note.
If there’s one thing Nightwish don’t lack its scale and ambition. You need to be open-minded when approaching their music because if it’s just riffs and power metal you seek, then look elsewhere. Nightwish blend metal with Celtic folk, opera and pop, and perform it with bombast, but it’s their sense of melody and song arrangements which sets them apart from other bands in their genre. Whilst all their albums are worth checking out, if you’re coming to Nightwish new, this album is the sound of a band at the very top of their game and a superb introduction to their music.