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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.
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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.
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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!!!
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on 19 June 2016
First listen - what is this Iron Maiden sound doing next to this weird nordic operatic voice? What is walking in the air doing as a rock anthem? Why am I giggling sometimes but starting to tap my toes and lightly head bang! WHY?????

Second listen - a band so obviously influenced by the likes of Sabbath and Maiden - but incredibly as a huge fan of theirs I have to put my hand up - by the end of the 2nd listen I was loving it and thinking this is a great Finnish band who take that kind of sound somewhere a bit different, a bit weirder, and all in their own way.

Third listen (the next day) - had to put it on on my commute - needed to hear it - played Wishmaster (other album) straight after. Noticing some of the more immense riffs now - Passion and the Opera - oh my gosh - just have a listen and try not nodding to that - very hard.

To summise - I have listened 3 albums of Nightwish in one week and scrolled through the rest lightly - Oceanborn is a masterpiece and I NEVER thought Id see heavy metal being treated this way - but Im so pleased and thankful as a huge metal fan that some one has.

Maiden and Sabbath have that innate Britishness in their music which gives it that revealing element of cheesyness - heavyness - political angle - brilliant riffing and song structure/ writing. Nightwish take that and bring their own identity and originality and approach and move heavy metal forwards brilliantly too. This album is a brilliant treat and very addictive listening as all great metal albums are.....

I cant believe I missed it by nearly 10 years since it came out. Gobsmacked. Truely gobsmacked.
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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.
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on 20 November 2005
Oceanborn still marks the pinnacle of what Nightwish are capable of. That is, hard, heavy, slightly proggy, and insanely catchy symphonic pop-metal. Quite a mouthful I know, but this is a band that have two major facets that set them apart from the rest. Firstly, they know (like all successfull rock bands of the past) that great rock is just as much about catchy melodies as it is about heavy riffs and a striking image.
Secondly, they have Tarja Turunnen. Either this was a girl who took the wrong turning at the musical careers office or singing at the Royal Opera House really was not for her. A truly remarkable voice that turns the already good into the utterly magnificent.
On Oceanborn, we have a band all to aware of what they can do and well prepared to carry it off. An utter blast.
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on 10 May 2016
When I try to work out what my favourite Nightwish album I always struggle but this is right up there with them. Stargazers and Gethsemane alone bring quality to this album and in fact it only took the first few seconds of Stargazers to sell me the album. This is the height of the Tarja era and as usual the Brilliant writing by Tuomas elevates the album above many others in it's class.
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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 ... :)
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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.
Highlight tracks:
Gethsemane, Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean, Riddler, Pharaoh Sails To Orion.
Also The cover of Walking In The Air is 100% Nightwish
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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.
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