Single Review: Nightwish – Élan (Expectation Vs Reality)
Expectation: It would be a step away from the whole Scrooge McDuck thing.
Reality: Actually, Tuomas’ questionable (but actually really good thank you very much) solo venture has clearly informed the more sensitive side of his compositions. Nightwish have never been afraid of dropping the tempo, and ‘Élan’ is a confident, beautiful single that feels like a mixture of the direction Nightwish were heading in and the tales yielded in ‘The Life & Times…’.
Expectation: Floor would deliver some powerhouse vocals.
Reality: Check out Floor’s rendition of ‘Ghost Love Score’. Arguably one of the best Nightwish songs, made even better by Ms. Jansen’s incredible skill – shifting between operatic into pure metal faster than you can say ‘Please Learn The Setlist in 48 Hours’. The reason this powerful blast of a finale has such an effect is because Floor knows how to use her voice exceptionally well and, clearly, so does Tuomas. There has to be gentler moments to properly highlight the enormity of the heights she will inevitably scale on the single’s parent record. ‘Élan’ is the calm before the storm.
Expectation: Troy’s pipes will be a’piping.
Reality: Troy’s pipes are a’piping.
Expectation: Jukka would be there.
Reality: Nope, he wasn’t trolling when she announced his departure but, especially for those Youtube commenters who seem perplexed by the idea that he isn’t featured in the video, Kai Hahto is the man bashing the cymbals nowadays. As his career with Wintersun has proven, he is more than capable of delivering a tireless performance through some lengthy tunes (check out the thirteen minute ‘Sons of Winter & Stars’ from ‘Time I’) which should prove helpful on the 20min+ album finale track ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’. I need a sit down just thinking about the effort.
Expectation: Tuomas would wave goodbye to the top hat.
Reality: Not happening. Apols.
Expectation: ‘Élan’ would be an enormous, symphonic comeback.
Reality: So this one seems to be the kicker. It isn’t the ‘Bye Bye Beautiful’/’Wish I Had An Angel’ brand of immediately infectious, nor is it an immense power-ballad alike ‘Nemo’. Personally, I’ve benefited from the hindsight of others – as they revealed their disappointment during leak-gate that the song was too ‘calm’, I’d encourage others to wrap their head around that fact before embarking on their maiden listen.
Expectation: ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ will be amazing/ will be awful.
Reality: Don’t forget the time we were introduced, not only to Anette Olzon but also to ‘Dark Passion Play’ with ‘Eva’. A true slowie, if ever there was one. Nightwish have never played it entirely safe – Imaginaerum had the epic spoken word conclusion, whilst ‘Once’ offered up the legendary John Two-Hawks on the breathtaking ‘Creek Mary’s Blood’. The truth is, you don’t know what you’re going to get with this band. Just as much as ‘Ever Dream’ didn’t hint at the dramatic ‘Beauty Of The Beast’, ‘Élan’ really can’t be expected to harness the full prowess of the band’s latest effort. It is what it is and, once you’re over the loaded expectations and can appreciate the reality, ‘Élan’ is a very special song indeed.
Words: Simon McMurdo