Nightwish spreads musical hope on ‘Human. :II: Nature.’

Nightwish

Nightwish

Ryan Luchene and Ryan Luchene

Finland’s own Nightwish released their first album in five years, “Human. :II: Nature,” the symphonic-metal band’s first release since “Endless Forms Most Beautiful.” If there is a metal album that could raise the spirits of their listeners in these tough times, it would be this one, as it truly tugged at my heart strings the entire time I listened to it.

The album starts off with the song “Music,” which has a slow and melodic chorus with tribal drums at the beginning before bringing in the harmonic soprano vocals of the band’s singer, Floor Jansen. The song is all about the history of music, as seen by the title, with a perfect team-up of symphonic elements of the band that really gives a good impression of what’s to come. This all leads up to the epic vibe of the next track, “Noise.” “Noise” gives the classic Nightwish sound that got me into the band in the first place when I first heard “Last Ride of the Day” from “Imaginaerum.”

One of the most notable parts of the album is the addition of many other instruments. Nightwish’s Troy Donockley is one of the band’s latest additions. Formerly a touring member since 2007, he then became a full-time member in 2013. He has added other elements into the album by not only providing guitars, backing vocals and male vocals in the song “Harvest,” but also Uilleann pipes, low whistle, bouzouki, bodhran and aerophone. These coalesce by adding additional feelings of storytelling throughout the album that fits what the songs are trying to convey to the listener.  Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, a founding member of the band, adds his guitar mastery in the album, playing guitar chords that properly fit with the mood of each track of the album. Marco Hietala fails to disappoint in his role of bass playing and baritone/tenor vocals, even showing off his vocal range in the ninth track and the last song on the first half, “Endlessness.”

Pianist Tuomas Holopainen shows his worth in Nightwish by adding the symphonic elements into the album, while also doing work in the producing and recording process.  Kai Hahto, who went from being the band’s touring drummer in 2014 to full time in 2019 as their latest permanent acquisition, made a promising debut with his good rhythmic rudiments on the set, including his killer double bass heard throughout the album. Floor Jansen’s role as the lead vocalist never fails to amaze listeners as her beautiful soprano range is what represents the Nightwish in their style of music.

What makes “Human. :II: Nature.” so unique is that the album itself is divided into two discs: the first being all tracks played by the band itself with Floor Jansen singing, then the second, named “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World,” has instrumental tracks. With the only vocals being background choruses, Jansen’s harmonization during certain tracks and spoken word dialogue of Vista and Ad Astra by English actress Geraldine James.

As for my favorite tracks, I would pick “Music,” “Harvest” and “Endlessness” from the first disc and “Moors” and “Ad Astra” in the second. “Music” was the perfect choice for opening the album, as it had a good orchestral intro that brought in symphonic vocals that characterized the album perfectly. “Harvest” was great in bringing a multi-instrumentalist into the mix and gave a very upbeat feel to the meaning of both the album and life and “Endlessness” did well closing out the first disc. Plus, with Hietala being the lead vocalist in the song, it adds the diversity of vocal duties that the band shares throughout their releases. “Moors” added a good tribal feel to the instrumental part of the album. In the beginning, which introduced what I believe to be the Uilleann pipes, brought good soberness before going into an orchestral march complete with drums including the bodhran. “Ad Astra” was one heck of a closer, with a touching spoken word section from Geraldine James that went along with Jansen’s harmonization, as the orchestral elements helped visualize what was being told.

Overall, Nightwish truly delivered with “Human. :II: Nature.” The album had just the kind of symphonic spirit that fans of the band know they have. With the pandemic going on, this album really helped raise my spirits and fill me with hope for the days to come. Nightwish might have to wait to tour and play some of the music, but until then, fans can take in the artistry that is “Human. :II: Nature.”