Listeners who have come to the work of vocal icon Floor Jansen through her current tenure fronting the mighty NIGHTWISH are going to be very surprised by this album. Hell, long-term fans of Floor will also be surprised too, but in a very good way. To be quite frank, this album is nothing short of a masterpiece of modern melodic metal.
Much, MUCH heavier than the debut, “Wild Card” sees Floor bring out some astonishing vocal work the likes of which we've not heard from her before. Her incredible range of melodic and operatic styles are there, but now she has included growling to her arsenal of talents, and she does it damn well.
A lot of the time, growled vocals in female-fronted metal sound out of place, but here they work perfectly. I'm not sure if that's down to the fact that both the clean and harsh vocals come from the same throat or if it's more down to the insanely high quality of the songwriting, but I suspect it may be a mixture of both.
From the second the album starts with “Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown: On The Sideline” (the first in a trilogy of similarly titled songs), you know this is a different beast. Heavier. Darker. Faster. Harder. However, none of the refined elegance of the debut or indeed Floor's performance has been lost in the transition.
Following a turbulent time in her life, it's incredible to hear the catharsis she has laid down on this album, and the band really stepped up to the mark and delivered some truly brilliant modern melodic – and not so melodic – metal.
The title track itself is one of the greatest symphonic metal songs recoded since Nightwish brought us “Ghost Love Score” on “Once”. The album is luxurious in its depth and deeply impressive in just how ferociously heavy some of it becomes.
“Precibus”, “Nothing” and “I Can Become” are all highlights, but for me the most jaw-dropping piece is “Misery's No Crime”, which not only sums up the whole album perfectly, it pretty much reinvents the sub-genre. If Nightwish decide not to take Floor on as permanent vocalist, then she will always have a fanbase around the world to enjoy her own creations. And it's easy to hear just why that fanbase continues to grow, from the After Forever days to ReVamp, to Nightwish and beyond.