NIGHTWISH were always a strong live act. Whether fronted by the elegantly reticent Tarja Turunen or the ill-fated but underrated Anette Olzon, the Finnish symphonic metal titans have such a bombastic and grandiose sound that failing to project beyond the front row was never a realistic option. But it was with the arrival of Floor Jansen that the genre's undisputed standard bearers truly clicked into globe-conquering gear. Doubtless fans remain divided about which of the band's three singers to date best complimented Tuomas Holopainen's opulent musical vision, but in terms of stage presence, versatility and good old heavy metal intensity, Jansen wipes the floor with her predecessors and "Decades: Live In Buenos Aires" is the irrefutable proof.
It all sounds glorious, of course. But aside from the brilliance of their frontwoman, this generously proportioned live effort, the real surprise here is just how many incredible songs NIGHTWISH have amassed over the last 23 years. All of their studio albums are represented, from "Oceanborn" to "Endless Forms Most Beautiful", and while the evolution of their trademark sound is more than apparent, everything fits neatly together: a sign that NIGHTWISH are experts at planning a set list, but also that the band's identity has never changed, just matured like a fine, ruby wine. From early classics like "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Kinslayer" through to giant, breakthrough hits "Nemo" and "I Want My Tears Back" and on, with mounting pomp and power, to epic encore "The Greatest Show On Earth", this is every bit as epic and thunderous as it deserves to be, not to mention a fantastic entry point for the uninitiated.
At the heart of it all, however, "Decades: Live In Buenos Aires" showcases the strongest, most charismatic and most absurdly entertaining NIGHTWISH lineup to date. You can hear how much the Argentinian crowd adores them, and it's fairly obvious why, too. If symphonic metal is your thing, this is the live album to end them all.