It's been so long since I visited this forum (5 years?), I was amazed that my account hadn't pruned! Anyway sorry to butt in, I gave EFMB some more listens after quite a long time has passed and wanted to type out my feelings about the album, as it feels odd not to. I haven't been following Nightwish for years and totally missed this album when it first dropped, and when I did listen to it I was unable to get through to the end, to my great disappointment. I still have never listened to The Greatest Show on Earth to the end...depending on my mood I get 10-15 minutes into it and then I've just had enough. I really dislike the song and the presence of Richard Dawkins is overbearing and does my head in (he's annoying on SBTB but mercifully brief!).
This is the first album Nightwish have ever made that I feel totally indifferent towards! It's strange to me because all the same ingredients are there (plus the addition of Troy which I was so excited about!) but for me, it's just missing something. I think it's partially the shift in (overall) lyrical themes on this album, but more than anything just the simple fact that this album is, I guess, the logical continuation of the musical line they took on DPP & Imaginaerum, while being more derivative and more generic than both of those albums (to my ears!). Basically, if I was in the mood to listen to recent Nightwish I would not choose to listen to this album over their previous two works, ever, because it just has nothing really of it's own to offer. That and the songwriting and arrangements just aren't...strong enough to carry the bulk of the 5-6 minute songs. The album feels like it's full of 3-4 minute songs all of which have 2-3 minutes of bloat attached to them, almost every song overstays it's welcome, so the album just drags for me. The only song that doesn't have this effect is My Walden, because it's an absolutely GORGEOUS combo of I Want My Tears Back and For The Heart I Once Had and is the only song on the album that has a stirring melody. It's so charming. It's the only song that I love. The other songs just run together for me and are utterly forgettable. All the riffs (guitar and keys) are so painfully recycled...and I know Nightwish have not been strong on this front for a LONG time and have been recycling guitar work in particular for years but this is the first album where it's been really...intrusive and actually rendered songs redundant, because there just aren't enough good hooks or melodies to make up for it.
I also have very tepid feelings with regards to Floor's vocals. Which I knew I would, because I've felt the same way about her as a vocalist for a decade before she joined Nightwish. This is no disparagement of Floor or the job she's done at all, she's probably the most skilled vocalist NW has ever had and she sings beautifully, I've just never particularly felt much from her singing, and the tone/quality of her voice has never done anything for me. That can't be helped. I admit I couldn't help but find myself missing the sound of Anette's voice on songs like My Walden and Elan, and in general when there's harmonising with Marco going on. I in no way dislike Floor however, I've just never had that emotional response to her unfortunately.
So basically, I hope that EFMB will well and truly be the end of this musical 'chapter' of NW's career and they'll try something a bit different for their next album(s). (sorry for coming back and writing a bunch of probably redundant crap, I just felt like expressing my thoughts about it.)