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Customer Review

on 4 July 2004
To put it simply, this is the best Nightwish release since Oceanborn.
After Wishmaster it seemed that Tuomas and his band had taken a new musical direction. With 'Over the Hills' and 'Century Child' it seemed the songwriting had taken a leaner, more direct approach. The beautifully complex song structures had been simplified in favour of a collection of more straight-up metal anthems. Whilst this new material was almost all excellent, it simply wasn't what Nightwish do best.
Now it's gone even further the other way.
This album is closest to Oceanborn in it's style, each song going through complexly interwoven melodies and time changes before rising up to a chorus sure to leave it's imprint on your heart. But everything on this CD is simply bigger and more epic than anything this awesome band have done before. Whatever their musical limits once were, everything on here smashes through them.
Opener 'Dark Chest of Wonders' is a piece of soaring metal genius. The first minute is almost a song itself, a deluge of power metal riffing overlayed with Tuomas's wonderful keyboard genius (not to mention the addition of an entire symphony orchestra and choir) before Tarja's voice, possibly the greatest in metal at this time, sweeps you away. It's hard to explain how much the vocals on this have improved since the early days of the band until you've listened to each diverse track and every mind-blowing chorus.
The addition of a choir and orchestra has given this CD a richness and texture that was sadly lacking on earlier releases (although this will undoubtedly create difficulties when it comes to performing the songs live, a pity as this album has just the kind of rousing, fist-pumping action that works so well live) and, as always, the musicianship is superb. Tuomas's arrangements sound like the soundtrack to the best Hollywood epic ever and every instrument fits together beautifully to create a single, flowing entity. The song 'Ghost Love Score' is a perfect example of this. This track, perhaps more than any other, demonstrates an incredible band at the height of their powers. Tarja's vocals float angelically above the backing choir whilst the music rolls and blasts below.
Whilst the epic material is wonderful, theres plenty here that takes a more direct approach to your ears. 'Wish I Had an Angel' is a fast-paced 'Dead to the World' style anthem whilst single 'Nemo' is a beautifully crafted masterpiece. 'Wish I...' is also one of several tracks that use bassist Marco's gruff voice to counter the ethereal Tarja (fans of Century Child will remember how much he added to the sound). 'The Siren' in particular will blow away all fans of dual vocals in songs.
If there is a criticism of this album, it's that the songs can occaisionally get a little bit TOO indulgent. 'Creek Mary's Blood', with it's native American chants and ethnic instrumentation, is perhaps pushing things slightly. However this is a minor gripe since 'Creek...' is as awesome in parts as anything Nightwish have ever done. Also, Tuomas has yet to explain why he chose to portray himself as a nemo.....
Aside from that, this is genius. Sheer genius.
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Product Details

4.7 out of 5 stars
105