Tepid, cheesy, uninteresting and self-referential

Nightwish has been circling the drain now for almost a decade. After staying groggily on their feet following the brutal split with Tarja Turunen (16 years ago!) by making two great rock-flavoured albums with Anette Olzen, the band followed up her departure with one of the most listless and unremarkable releases of 2015.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful was a flat, lifeless, overproduced waste of an hour and a half better spent doing almost anything else. The fact that it was Floor Jansen’s debut with the group did the usually fantastic Dutch vocalist a disservice. 

Now the Finnish symphonic metal pioneers have gone a step further in their quest for irrelevance to the world of rock. Human. :II: Nature. is what happens when the main songwriter in a metal band is the keyboards player with delusions of being the next Hans Zimmer. Tuomo Holopainen has been steadily gearing Nightwish into his personal passion project now for some time, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the results were in any way inspiring.

But they’re not. Except for Tribal, which is actually a pretty decent metal song from a band that seems to have long forgotten how to write one, Human. :II: Nature. is Holopainen finally giving Nightwish completely over to his orchestral pop rock pretensions. No wonder Marco Hietala had so much time to go off and make a solo album. Both he and Emppu Vuorinen are virtual passengers here as Holopainen piles orchestration on symphonics on orchestration with almost no hooks and little for the wonderful Jansen to do except warble over similar-sounding melody lines. Two-thirds of the band are effectively wasted on this. The mix is reminiscent of Epica’s overblown and similarly tedious The Holographic Principle, where every aspect of the band’s metal side is drowned out by the overbearing symphonic aspects. 

The album’s second half is an eight-part symphony, All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World on which Holopainen basically reconfigures parts of Imaginaerum (again, but hardly surprising considering how good it really was) as he indulges himself with some kind of half-arsed Disneyesque orchestral soundtrack. Classical music is the basis of all Western music and one of the cornerstones of our culture, but not all of it is grand, rich, moving and emotional: this is tepid, cheesy, uninteresting and self-referential. Human. :II: Nature. is a boring, self-indulgent waste. The worst Nightwish album by far. 

Disc One:

  1. Music
  2. Noise
  3. Shoemaker
  4. Harvest
  5. Pan
  6. How’s the Heart?
  7. Procession
  8. Tribal
  9. Endlessness

Disc Two:

  1. Vista
  2. The Blue
  3. The Green
  4. Moors
  5. Aurorae
  6. Quiet as the Snow
  7. Anthropocene
  8. Ad Astra