Nightwish – Decades: Live in Buenos Aires (Live Album Review)

One of Europe’s most successful and beloved Symphonic Metal bands, Finland’s Nightwish, are ready to deliver a pre-holiday gift to their die-hard fans with Decades: Live in Buenos Aires, which arrives on Friday, December 6th, 2019, thanks to Nuclear Blast.

On Sunday, September 30th, 2018, the members of Nightwish—Vocalist Floor Jansen, Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, Bassist/Vocalist Marko Hietala, Drummer Kai Hahto, Keyboardist and Founding Member Tuomas Holopainen, and Multi-Instrumentalist Troy Donockley—ignored a light rain that was coating the streets of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. Instead of being entranced by the gray skies, inside the Estadio Malvinas stadium they prepared to take the stage in front of thousands of dedicated fans for their Decades: World Tour.

Decades, the 2018 sextet’s seventh compilation album, celebrated their first two decades. From 1997’s Angels Fall First to 2015’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful, profound line-up changes to international success, the best-of collection summarized their career to date, and sparked the tour of the same name. From March 9th to December 15th, 2018, the seventh Nightwish world tour conquered 82 cities across Europe, North America and South America, from New York, NY to Helsinki, Finland, Anaheim, CA to Santiago, Chile. And, of course, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Understandably, the 21-song Blu-ray/2CD package Decades: Live in Buenos Aires is chock-full of everything that makes Nightwish such a stellar act and obvious titans of Symphonic Metal. The show’s well-rounded setlist represents all eight of their exceptional studio albums with 1998’s Oceanborn and 2000’s Wishmaster offering up four tracks each, while 2007’s Dark Passion Play and 2011’s Imaginaerum deliver only one track apiece. Prior to the Decades: World Tour, many of these songs hadn’t been performed in years, which created a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans.

Decades: Live in Buenos Aires opens with the crowd cheering as the band begins to take the stage to the Celtic instrumental fantasy of “Swanheart,” allowing Donockley’s talents a moment in the spotlight. Next, a proper explosion of Symphonic Metal arrives with the powerful “End Of All Hope,” and firing on all cylinders Nightwish continue with fan-favorite “Wish I Had An Angel.”

What follows is an extensive and truly impressive live performance that highlights Nightwish’s exceptional musicianship, including the vocal theatrics of the perfectly matched Jansen and Hietala. There are moments with beautifully lush operatics (“10th Man Down,” “The Kinslayer”) from Jansen, tenderness and intimacy (“Dead Boy’s Poem”), and even Hietala taking the reins to lead the tale of “The Carpenter.” Vuorinen’s astounding guitar work truly shines on languid rocker “Come Cover Me,” while the twinkling “Gethsemane” allows the entire sextet to shine, displaying their flawless musicianship.

Of course, there are plenty of rockers (“Sacrament of Wilderness,” “Deep Silent Complete”), including crowd favorites “I Want My Tears Back” and “Amaranth,” both of which draw clear excitement from the Argentinean audience. In fact, Hietala praises them for their enthusiasm before the cinematic storytelling of “Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean.”

Then there are the truly breathtaking moments, such as the gorgeously lush “Élan” with some crunchy bass lines from Hietala and Jansen leading the audience into a sing-along. Another reminder of the sextet’s abilities, the epic journey of “Elvenjig/Elvenpath” is a clear stand out, alongside the delicate prance of “Nemo.” But this set is hardly all sonic folktales, and rocker “Slaying The Dreamer” hits hard, showing the versatility of Jansen’s pipes and allowing her bandmates to headbang.

However, it is the stunningly impeccable instrumentation that provides the languid opening to “The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapters I, II, III),” a nearly 20-minute long epic, that clearly displays Nightwish’s stamina and flexibility, musically speaking. With your mind blown, sit back as they close out this unforgettable evening with the powerfully soaring “Ghost Love Score.”

If you love Nightwish, Decades: Live in Buenos Aires will merely affirm the band’s impeccable skills and incomparable musicianship, and allow you to yet again explore their beautifully-crafted cinematic soundscapes. Fans will love the rare gems that are unearthed and recrafted here, older tracks pumped full of new life and captured for posterity. Clearly not every fan could physically attend the Buenos Aires show, but thanks to Decades: Live in Buenos Aires that night will live on in infamy. For this, Cryptic Rock give Nightwish’s Decades: Live in Buenos Aires 5 of 5 stars.

Purchase Decades: Live in Buenos Aires:

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