by Greg Prato
Judging from the way Dark Passion Play starts out, it's understandable to assume that it's some sort of opera aria. But hold tight, dear friends, because from out of nowhere metal guitar riffs come swooping in. That's Nightwish for ya -- a Finnish quintet that had been walking the line between symphonic and metallic for ten years by the time of this 2007 release. The album signals the arrival of new singer Anette Olson (who replaced longtime member Tarja Turunen), but for longtime fans worried that this lineup shuffle may alter the band's sound and direction, there's no reason to fret -- Nightwish are as bombastic and dramatic as ever. Understandably, there are quite a few similarities between symphonic metal and prog metal, and this is certainly the case on such tracks as &Bye Bye Beautiful,& which contains a very Dream Theater-esque opening. Elsewhere, &Eva& focuses primarily on the vocal talents of Nightwish's new frontwoman, while the slow-building album opener, &The Poet and the Pendulum,& proves to be a neat summary of Nightwish's style. Depending on which side of the metal fence you're on, Dark Passion Play is either a symphonic metal triumph or merely pretentious twaddle.