After 20 long years of touring, songwriting and worldwide critical acclaim, Finland’s own symphonic metal giants, Nightwish, are once again gearing up to bring their trademark sound around the world with a new tour and their 7th new compilation album! “Decades” is a hand-picked collection of Nightwish’s work since 1996, when the band was founded while sitting around a campfire in Finlandthrough the ingenuity and persistence of Tuomus  Holopainen, Eppu Vuorinen and Tarja Turunen. Since their inception on that night, Nightwish have been utterly unstoppable. Over the last two decades they havesteadily solidified their reputation as skilled and unique musicians through their passionate live performances and stunning albums, spurred on by their intensely loyal and loving fans around the world.

The release of a compilation album like “Decades” feels like a celebration for the band, and a well-deserved one at that. Twenty years is a long time for any band or artist – especially when you take into consideration just how much Nightwish have accomplished in that time; withone EP, eight studio albums, six compiliation albums, five live albums and a film. Nightwish have built themselves an impressive repotoire and an even more impressive fan-base.  Looking back over their extensive touring schedules and studio releases makes it blindingly clear that “Decades”, both the album and the tour, are indeed Nightwish’s idea of a pat on the pack for themselves. Despite changes in their lineup over the years with original drummer Jukka Nevalainen being forced to leave the band due to ill health and losing not one, but two female vocalists before settling with the gifted Floor Jansen, Nightwish have never lost the creative spark that crowned them as the leaders of the symphonic metal genre and set them apart from their peers.

As well as a celebration of all Nightwish have achieved, this compilation also feels like a walk down memory lane. The tracklist has been arranged in a way that enables you to listen to the evolution of Nightwish in reverse order, hearing their most recent work like “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “My Walden” before working through the highlights of their 8 studio albums in order before finishing, notably, with TuomusHolopainen’s first ever demo from 1996 which was aptly named “Nightwish”. This demo is arguably the highlight of the compilation simply because it is considered to be such a rarity, and is a perfect song that provides insight into how far come Nightwish have come, but yet how little the concept and mentality behind the music has not budged since the beginning.

Stretching over two CD’s with a massive 22 song tracklist, not a single facet of Nightwish’s epic, cinematic sound was forgotten. From the headbanging qualities of “Slaying the Dreamer” to the more poignant and picturesque sounds of “Dead Boy’s Poem”, old-school fans will be satisfied while new fans will find themselves pulled into the mind-boggling symphonic scenery of this fantastic band’s colouful musical history with no hope for return. Nightwish decided not to include any previously unreleased material on “Decades”, purely because the band do not have any unreleased work to share. Also shunning the habit held by many bands of “remastering” and breathing new life into old songs, the band chose to keep the integrity and quality of their older work by refusing to re-record any songs, instead deciding that leaving the songs as they are gives clarifies the evolution of Nightwish and gives the quality of nostalgia to the songs that would be lost if Nightwish decided to re-record. I felt like this was a strong decision for the band to make, a further testament to the thought put into the arrangement and quality of the songs on “Decades”

As compilation albums go, Nightwish’s “Decades” is definitely high on my list of favourites. The full scope and understanding of their sound can fully be appreciated on this album and I’m sure it will be loved amongst fans who embark to see them during their North American and European tour starting this March. I for one will be crossing my fingers in the hopes that Nightwish announces some Australian dates later in the year. I am happy to give “Decades” a glowing 90/100, if not simply for the joy of journeying through their musical development over the… well… “Decades”.

“Decades” will be released on the 9th of March this year through Nuclear Blast Records, coinciding with the start of their new tour. As a treat to fans both new and old, “Decades” will be made available as a 2 disk jewel case or you can choose between three colour variations of a 3 LP set, as well as being released digitally.

You can pre-order ‘Decades’, out March 9th via Nuclear Blast records HERE!