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Good as a debut album, pales in comparision to later albums
on 26 January 2005
Once upon a time in 1997, a Finnish group called 'Nightwish' emerged into the industry and were a gem that stood out amongst the piles upon of piles of useless rubbish. However, although this was the first album I listened to, it is undeniable that this album lacks the greatness of their later releases.
The element that stood out for Nightwish was of course their female vocals, performed by Tarja Turunen. But what could possibly be so unique about this? Well, although it is hard to believe, her lyrics are sung in an interesting opera style, and although I will be the first to admit that I cringe at the thought of most opera music, this somehow works. It's hard to really describe how it works, but it just does, resulting in a unique and wonderful style that only Nightwish can portray.
However, this being their debut album, things are not up to the standard they are in the present. This is still a good album, but lacks that power and epicness that plagues the majority of their releases.
In fact, every album Nightwish has produced so far has been unique to each other, all of them have a particular style about them - but Angels Fall First might as well be classified as a different genre. It is probably well known, but the majority of people would classify Nightwish as 'power metal' - you know all those fancy keyboards and effects in addition to guitar. Well this appears rather sparsely in Angels Fall First, and instead heavily relies on Tarja's vocals and the consistently strong guitars. And in my humble opinion, I think that the guitars sound best in the earlier albums, above the heavier and somewhat non-melodic guitars found in the most recent albums. Basically then, Angels Fall First is more of an honest to God Metal album, with a hint of Power Metal coupled with female vocals.
As far as tracks are concerned, there are a few classics on here, but as far as I am considered on a whole it is a bit of a mixed bag. Anyway, starting off with the best, my personal favourite is Know Why The Nightingale Sings, if only for its instantly appealing riff. It is hard not to like this track, the guitar riff is excellent, lyrics are pretty good and that 2 minute guitar solo at the end just has to be heard, it's almost jolly and uplifting. Another high point is Astral Romance, a track that is well known by fans. It is certainly an enjoyable song to listen to, and has, I think, one of the best solos that they have done, again towards the end. Other worth listening to tracks are Elevenpath for its memorable tune, Beauty and the Beast because I like it and Tutankhamen for its intriguing tone and Egyptian (?) origins.
After this selection of tracks, minus The Carpenter which I don't really care for, are a series of Nightwish ballads. And I simply dislike them. Although Nightwish can and work at a slower pace, this album doesn't have the best selection of them. In my opinion. It's not that they are hateful or anything, in fact they are respectful pieces of music. But the majority of them seem to lack power, and come off as rather uninteresting to me after hearing what Nightwish can really do. Still, some slower songs do work very well, the best of which can be found in some of their more recent efforts.
To end the album, Angels Fall First concludes with a song that comes in 4 parts - the Lappi series. And they are all rather strange to listen to. Number 1 is an acoustic track sung in the Finnish language, number 2 is what I see as the build up to number 3, and it's an instrumental with not much going for it to be honest. Number 3 is the best; it actually has lyrics, guitar and drums but still remains a tad uninteresting. Number 4 is similar to number 1, a simple acoustic track, which is fine if you are into that sort of thing.
Overall, Angels Fall First is a decent debut album, introducing us into the world of Nightwish. Back then they were fairly unknown outside Finland, and didn't become as huge as they are now until their follow-up, Oceanborn which is a fantastic album. However, it is easy to tell that the production is a little shoddy, and it just doesn't grab you as much as their later releases. However, if you must own every album then this is essential, otherwise this shouldn't really be at the top of your list. Having said that, this would still be a good place to start if you are not familiar with the Nightwish universe, if only to see how they first started out - and then progressed to produce some of the best music for your ears.