Sjak : I have been waiting for this record for a long time, not because I'm an avid Nightwish-fan but because I had heard that the new vocalist and replacement for Tarja was going to be none other than ex-Alyson Avenue front lady Anette Olzon (also known as Anette Blyckert). I've always thought that this A.O.R. outfit was a very underestimated band, which have released two truly magnificent albums ('Presence Of Mind' from 2000 and 'Omega' from 2004, both essential purchases for A.O.R. fans!). The main reason of my appreciation for this band were the phenomenal vocals of aforementioned Anette Olzon. Her joining Nightwish made me really curious about the development of this Finish band.
To start off with the conclusion: 'Dark Passion Play' is in my opinion by far the best album that Nightwish has made so far. Partly this is certainly due to Anette's passionate vocal delivery, but it's also because of the fact that the compositions of Tuomas Holopainen have matured quite a lot and that he has grown a lot as a song writer. A nice example of this is opening track 'The Poet And The Pendulum', a very varied work of art of about fifteen minutes length, which contains so many ideas that you could have made about eight songs from it. Tuomas has coupled all these loose ends in such an ingenious way that you are listening to this for the total duration breathlessly and that you discover new elements at every listen. The same holds true for the record as a whole: when you listen to a song like 'Eva', this doesn't sound like a very special track, but if you listen to it as part of the complete album it fits seamlessly and it radiates the right emotions.
It would take things too far to name all songs here, because you really get a lot of value for money with thirteen tracks and about eighty minutes of music, but I do want to name â'Sahara' and 'For The Heart I Once Had' specifically. The first songs has a very hypnotizing guitar riff and is because of that one of the best songs and the very A.O.R.-minded 'For The Heart I Once Had'is characterized by fantastic vocals of Anette, who really showcases her talent on the complete album by the way. I for one did't miss Tarja for a single minute and I'm quite convinced that the renewed Nightwish is stronger than ever before. This is certainly also the case for 'Dark Passion Play'!