Review Summary: Nightwish at the top of the top of their game.
Nightwish in my opinion, reached their highest peak early on in their career. Don’t get me wrong, "Once", and "Wishmaster" were brilliant pieces of work. Nightwish seemed to be at the full extent of their powers with their second album "Oceanborn. We got a glimpse at where they might be heading with their debut, "Angels Fall First".
Tarja Turunen: Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen: Keyboards
Emppu Vuorinen: Guitars
Jukka Nevalainen: Drums
On "Oceanborn", they managed to one up the songwriting, play each instrument to the best of their ability’s, and vastly improved singing from Tarja, never quite hitting this stride again. Although Marco wasn't in the band at this point to contribute his smooth crooning towards verses and chorus's, Tarja had delivered the best vocal performance of her career. Tuomas Huolapien was at the top of his game as well, masterfully controlling his keyboards to do his bidding, wrapping around verse after verse, painting a dreamy sounds cape of serenity and light, capable of entrancing those upon first listen.
Oceanborn displayed everyone’s ability to the max on this disk, if not very technical, the band succeeded at creating great songs with their own personality. Emmpu wrote catchy riffs and heartfelt solos, adding a sense of feeling that the the other instruments couldn't handle. Although mainly throwing power chords into the mix, they were well executed. Not often in a Metal band does the Guitar take a third seat, here they do, and for good reason. Tuomas, the songwriter of the band, displayed his knack for creating well structured songs with his key's, to wrap around Tarja's angelic voice, with the guitar providing a slight punch and aggressiveness. Tarja had amazing depth and showed great emotion as she poured through each song with her demanding voice. Unlike "Once" and "Century Child", where she switched up a couple vocal styles, she displayed her Opera style singing all the way through. Not a bad thing either because she can sing like an Angel. The bassist, "Sami", even though he's nowhere near as eclectic or powerful as Marco, he still adds a different perspective towards the music with his lower pitched vocal style. Jukka does a great job complementing the music with his drum fills. Never expanding into speedy territories‘, he plays according to the tempo. Never too technical or flashy, his performance was solid.
Too add more texture to the music being played, various out of the ordinary instruments were added to squeeze some Folk influence into the Operatic Power Metal Being played. The flutes had a prominent effect on many of their songs. One of their three stellar ballads, "Swanheart" made full use of the opportunity to use a Flute to it's extent. Emppu adds a beautiful solo, giving a very melodic feel. "Walking In The Air" of course was a remake of the famous song stemming from the widely acclaimed, "The Snowman". This was one of the simplest songs they played, yet still poured enough passion to create one of the strongest songs on the CD. The amount of feeling Tarja had put through, was out of this world. "Of course there was an instrumental song to be found on this album. An excellent song that has a bit of folk influence layering between the instrumentation. "Moondance" opens with a keyboard hit ushering in the silence. The guitars soon enter, adding rhythm and energy towards the song. It later slows its pace for a while as the flute makes a couple appearances. The song retains it's speed as the guitar and keyboards begin to pick up. The occasional background chanting is only adding icing to the cake, adding a European feel towards the music.
I have to say that Nightwish reached the pinnacle of their career early on with this gem of an album. Never again was this group so tight, nor would they reach this same level of excellence again. "Wishmaster" and "Once" are still great albums, just not as well executed as this album. "Oceanborn" is recommended for fans of Metal or those with an open mind that are willing to expand into music that is beautiful and captivating. The vocals might take a while to get used to, but trust me, it's worth it's weight in gold. A spectacular album that can be appreciated by those willing to go on a musical journey.
Strong vocal performance from Tarja. Powerful and emotional
Ballads are top notch.