on 24 June 2008
I was blown away the first time I heard this band, and now months later, after delving into the genre in a big way, I've yet to hear better. Nightwish are a Finnish 5-piece with standard rock line-up except they use an operatic soprano as lead vocalist. First released in 1998 this is exceptionally powerful and colourful music.
The soprano vocals may take a little getting used to (I've been raised on classic rock) but Tarja sounds absolutely wonderful on the big ballads (one of which is a great version of "Walking in the Air") On some of the more metal-type numbers I can't help wishing from time to time that Ronnie James Dio or Glenn Hughes was singing that material. In other words she has a beautiful big voice but I'm not always convinced it suits the music. Where she really scores is when she turns on the power when a song has a key change.
Tuomas the keyboard player writes all the material but somewhat surprisingly it is very guitar-oriented with great riffs that fairly leap out at you, and are driven along at quite fast tempos by their drummer Jukka. Drum sounds are excellent, the machine-gun bass drum is not overdone and the group are augmented from time to time by strings (orchestral accompaniment was to be enlarged in later releases especially "Once" and "Dark Passion Play")
The best tracks are "Stargazers", "Sleeping Sun" (Tarja's vocals doubled up are sublime), "Walking in the Air", "Sacrament of Wilderness", "Gethsemane" and Swanheart" (the first 4 are also on their "Best of"). The longer tracks are not quite as good as on later releases and some of their endings aren't as well thought out as their intros so I've docked a star from what is an exceptional album.
on 16 August 2004
I cannot praise Nightwish enough.They are beyond amazing.Lead vocalist Tarja will put you into a trance with her Haunting,soul piercing voice.Backed up with a symphony of Guitars,Keyboards,flutes,drums,etc...How gothic do you want it? Nightwish delivers you music that would bring the dead back to life.Music that makes every single hair on your body stand to attention.Not many bands around can do that.I am proud to have Nightwish as part of my music collection,and you would be to.I strongly recommend you buy any one of Nightwish's albums.You will not regret it. 10/10.
on 17 June 2001
I've always been a fan of Death/Black/Doom Metal, but no other band can compare to Nightwish. I've all their albums and can hardly wait for the next album Oceanborn and Wishmaster are the best albums of Nightwish. With the beautiful voice of Tarja, the female vocalist, excellent lyrics and carefully made songs, this is a band you just can't afford to miss.
on 7 April 2008
This album stands as perhaps the first real classic in the increasingly crowded genre of symphonic metal and in some ways has never been equalled. In some ways this is just as well - very few bands could hope to pull it off.
The idea of trying to combine hard rock and classical music is certainly nothing new (Deep Purple's Symphony for Group and Orchestra came nearly thirty years before this release), and most major bands employ arrangers to add strings etc to their music, but by using a classicly trained opera singer and building the music around the dramatic and theatrical, Nightwish succeed in raising their music to a whole new level. The effect of operatic vocals over heavy metal is breathtaking - and a fairly logical combination if you think about it - and gives you the feeling that you are listening to something huge and special.
You would expect that by combining relatively specialist genres (with completely seperate fanbases) this would not be an accessible album, but Oceanborn is full of great melodic hooks from the guitars in 'Gethsemane' to the operatic bit at the end of 'Passion and the Opera' to the keyboards in 'Moondance', and somehow this album manages to be catchy. Tarja never appears to struggle with the demands of music, and utterly outclasses nearly every other metal singer out there, showing great control in the classical cover 'Walking in the air' and impressive power and range throughout.
The album is certinaly fantastic and unlke anything before, and in some ways unlike anything since. But it times it is downright ridiculous - simply reading the tracklist suggests some serious biblical and operatic pretensions, and these are more than borne out through the lyrics and the music. Considering that Nightwish are Finnish, and not native english speakers, the language is extremely impressive but like the music it is not tones down in the slightest. Lines such as Oracles of Delfian Domine (track 1), dulcet elvenharps from dryad forests (track 4) and games of "hide and seek in lecherous roles" populate the lyrics, and even when the language isn't quite so over-the-top the themes invariably are with tales of ancient pharohs, greek goddesses and tales of infinite dreams. It's often very hard to know what the hell they're on about, but you won't really care - this is metal as escapism raised to a zenith and it is fantastic in every sense of the word.
For me, Sleeping Sun is best track (and one of my favourite of all Nightwish's songs), but the reason this album only gets 4 stars for me is that a lot of the songs disappear in the mix of opera, metal and ridiculous lyrics, and only a handful truly emerge from the whole.
The ambition of this album is vast, and few sane bands would have attempted it, but it works and nothing else (even other albums by Nightwish) is quite the same.
on 24 February 2008
Excellent album! Great songs & arrangements, top notch musicianship and a crystal clear production. The much missed Tarja really pushes her operatic lungs to bursting point on this 1998 release - before adapting more standard 'power metal' vocals on later releases (and sadly losing the Scandinavian accent, so wonderfully present here!). Solid guitar and bass work adds bite with powerful drumming. And special mention of the sterling keyboard work which creates a majestic and symphonic atmosphere.
Gethsemane, Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean, Riddler, Pharaoh Sails To Orion.
Also The cover of Walking In The Air is 100% Nightwish
on 27 November 2005
This is Nightwish's best album and one of the best albums of all time. This is an EXTREMELY talented band who never fail to be original and fresh in their ideas. There isn't one song on Oceanborn that you feel you have to skip ~ you have to just start from the beginning and NOT even touch the skip buttons ~ if you hear all the songs together all the way through as a whole, you will appreciate their individual raw talent and origonality much more. For me I loved this album more and more every time I put it on ~ this is a must have!!!
on 29 February 2012
"Oceanborn", Nightwish's second album, takes a dramatic turn from the accoustic folklore of their debut, "Angels Fall First". Overall, it's heavier, darker and has some of Tarja's most powerful vocal abilities. Starting off with the heavily orchestral "Stargazers", it's easy to see that these guys mean business as the next song, "Gethsemane" contains one of the albums best lyrics, "Without you the poetry within me is dead". A huge jump from the laughable attempts made on "Angels Fall First". Tuomas came up with an idea to have some heavy male vocals to contrast with the light but powerful vocals of Tarja, and the idea works well on the songs "Sacrament of Wilderness", "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion". While it is clearly a massive leap in progress, the slow, more melodic sound that is often recognised as Nightwish is evident on the beautiful "Sleeping Sun", and Tarja gives her all to belt out a fantastic "Swanheart". As Tuomas was still searching for the sound that would make Nightwish huge, the track "Moondance", an instrumental consisting of violins and celtic inspired guitars, it should be noted that this is perhaps one of their best works. As Tuomas said, you can hear the genuine innocence and enthusiasm. Interesting fact, for all it's massive, bombastic sound, the album was actually recorded in a Finnish high school gym. Another major addition to the Nightwish catalogue, one of the songs on the album, "Walking in the Air" is the Nightwish remake of one of Tuomas's favourite songs, and it works well. Although the term "bombastic" is often applied to Nightwish with little thought, this album right here clearly proves that Nightwish are one of the most distinguishable acts around.
on 6 March 2004
Now that Evanescence has made 'gothic' music not only acceptable, but openly desirable, again, perhaps the bands that influence the million-selling GothLite of Amy Lee and co will finally get the attention they deserve.
Musical heroes in their home country of Finland, and with a rapidly growing European and American fanbase, Nightwish are in a position to become a massive rock force in their own right and it's a position this band truly deserves after so many years releasing stunning albums of scope and diversity. Oceanborn is one of the earlier items in their back catalogue but the band have yet to come up with anything that can match it. Here the opera is grander, the metal heavier and the music just plain better than anything that came before or since.
Opening straight into the crunching 'Stargazers' with a power that turns your head, the album spirals up and down until the closing seconds of 'Sleeping Sun'. Tarja's voice is as beautiful as ever as it floats above the murky metal undertones (Sami and Jukka make up one of the tightest rhythm sections in the world) and Tuomas's melodies are constantly inventive, surprising you with sudden changes of pace and direction but never becoming confusing. Although many people may be put off by the sheer lack of raw emotion on display, they have no idea of what Nightwish is about. This is not a band who write weepy self-pitying emo ballads, this is a band who write soaring metal songs and nothing else will do.
Although on a large scale Nightwish change their style little (each song follows the same ethereal vocals-synthesised orchestral arrangements-heavy metal guitars and rhythm pattern) within the confines of their chosen style the inventiveness on display is incredible. Each melody and riff is unique in it's own right and every song is distinct from the last. Thats not to say that every song is built in the same way though, 'Swanheart' for example is a touching work of slowed-down beauty. A special mention must be made here of Emppu's guitar work, always breathtaking but never overpowering, here he lets rip with one of the most underrated guitar solos of all time. Also, keep an ear out for the solo in their cover of The Snowman's 'Walking in the air'. Both these songs are true demonstrations that a fast guitarist is nothing without a sense of melody. Of course, Emppu still manages to grind out some classic metal riffing on 'Devil and the deep dark ocean' and the the instant classic 'Passion and the Opera'.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Nightwish's music, however, is how little any of the individual instruments stand out. Everything in the band works together so well it's almost impossible to imagine any of it on it's own. I could not, for example, see the synths at the beginning of 'The Riddler' sounding half as good without the crashing guitar chords backing them up. Or 'Moondance' (the albums only instrumental track) working without Jukka's incredible drumming driving it along. And above it all, Tarja's voice flys like a watching angel, the calm focal point among all the heavy metal chaos.
If you want to get into Nightwish, buy 'Century Child' first, although this is their best album, it's also by far the hardest to get into if this kind of sound is new to you (and no, Evanescence does not count, this is a FAR richer kind of music). However, if you want to jump in at the deep end, and be rewarded for doing so, this album should be first on your list.
on 1 November 2011
I listen to a lot of metal; mostly death metal and melodic death metal... ... for people who don't know what that is, well is doesn't really matter. But still, I know great music when I hear it and even though this is outside my usual genre choice, I nonetheless see it as the masterpiece it is. It possesses beauty and aggression; the axioms of metal: symphonic or otherwise.
I like classical as well and the orchestrations in nightwish's work really add an entire new layer of emotion and musical interest. Stargazers is nearly-falling-out-of-seat level of epic :)
on 19 December 2001
I have never ever heard anything like this. This album combines all the hard hitting aspects of power metal with the enchanting and haunting feel of Enigma at times.
The melodies and atmospheric feel of this album is so amazing, I can't get enough of listening to it. Tarja's soprano-like singing is simply phenomenal, as it really adds to the dramatic and haunting mood of each song. The keyboardist, Tuomas, is a pure melodic genius. The music and melodies that he composes are truly amazing, and the best part is, each song has a distinct feel from one to another. For powerful and hard hitting songs, check out Gethsmane and Sacrement of Wilderness. The breathtaking Walking in the Air would be my personal favourite on the album, not to mention the catchy tune, Passion and the Opera.
This album has enough material to please fans of Stratovarius, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater and even Enya. If you thought Luca Turili of Rhapsody wrote melodic metal music that was out of this world, you ain't heard nothing yet ... :)