Album Review: Nightwish - Human. :II: Nature.

After missing last week's review due to Easter Monday, we went back to see if we missed anything. Sure enough, the release of Nightwish's latest album proved to be too tantalising to pass up; over the last two decades, they have been at the forefront of the European metal scene and pioneers of the symphonic metal genre. Even Iron Maiden's Steve Harris is a fan, which is a Hell of an endorsement.

This new record, entitled Human. :II: Nature., is a true follow-up to the previous record. Continuing on with the themes of Endless Forms Most Beautiful, this album dives further into the general theme of life, though as the title suggests, this now focusses more on humans and how we live, rather than the evolution of life itself. Having very much enjoyed the previous record, this was an exciting prospect indeed.

From the off, it's very 'Nightwish'. The soaring melodies, symphonic accompaniments and heavy riffs are all here, the staples of every Nightwish album. It's got all the ingrediemts and it's good... but unfortunately, it's not great. This record is just that little bit underwhelming; though it's quite clearly still the Nightwish we know and love, it's lacking the magic that's come before, the special something that made the previous records so good. This one is a pleasant listen, but not an epic one, and that's just a little disappointing.

There's not a whole lot to say about it, that's the truth. If you've heard Nightwish, you know exactly what's coming, with not much new to hear. Oddly, much of the album's best work is placed dead centre, rather than at either end of the album. The celtic roots of 'Harvest', for example, are clear for all to hear and it's a gorgeous and poignant track. Notably, it's not metal in the slightest, yet still stands out as a highlight. The two tracks that follow it, 'Pan' and 'How's the Heart', retain the slight upturn in quality and offer fantastic listens.

But the rest of the album is just...there. It's good and an enjoyable listen, but there's no fizz, no sparkle. It's paint-by-numbers Nightwish; there's a lack of originality and creativity, the inspiration isn't there. It's a disappointing record in that sense. It should be huge in scope, and it's just...not.

There is, however, another part of the record which is much, much better. Disc 2 is entitled All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World and it's comprised of one large piece of "classical" music that's split into eight tracks, beginning with 'Vista' and concluding with 'Ad Astra'. This disc, containing no metal whatsoever, is far superior to the actual album of songs on disc 1. A thoughtful, sometimes haunting and always beautiful piece, All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World is undoubtedly the best part of this record. 'Ad Astra' is as good a closer as I'd hoped 'Endlessness' to be, and this whole disc is as good as I'd wished the songs on disc 1 to be.

With their previous records, there had always been at least one song to make you sit up and take notice, the likes of 'Storytime', 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and the eternally perfect 'Ghost Love Score'. No song on Human. :II: Nature. does that, and the only pieces of music that do aren't metal in any way, shape or form.

That begs the question: are Nightwish running out of metal ideas? You'd certainly hope not, though a friend said this about the previous record. We disagreed, but one album later, it's starting to look likely. The flames of Nightwish's metal side need kindling, lest they burn out. Sure, it's brilliant that they can branch out and create music of other genres and influences, but at heart, they are, or should be, a symphonic metal band. The next record needs some brilliant metal tracks, or Nightwish's flame may just begin to fade, and no-one wants that.


(6/10 without disc 2, which saves it a bit.)


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