Nightwish is, on this album:
Tarja Turunen: Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen: Keyboards
Emppu Vuorinen: Guitars
Jukka Nevalainen: Drums
Bio (taken from Nightwish’s official website):
Nightwish’s first songs were acoustic songs, and were recorded in 1996 with the 3 starting members: Tarja, Tuomas, and Emppu. Their sound changed from acoustic to electric with the addition of Jukka, their drummer. In April of 1997, Nightwish recorded their first demo. In May of 1997, Nightwish signed a 2 record deal with Spinefarm Records, and released their first single, The Carpenter. Angels Fall First, the groups first full length, was released in November. The group recruited bassist Sami in 1998, and released their second full length album, Oceanborn, in November. Oceanborn was a success, hitting number 5 on the Finnish record charts. Their single, Sacrament Of Wilderness, was at number 1. In 2000, the group returned to the studio to record another album, Wishmaster, which many consider to be the bands crowning achievement. The album went straight to number 1 on the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks. Next, in March of 2001, Nightwish recorded an EP, Over The Hills And Far Away, with a cover song of the same name. Unfortunately, after this release, Sami left the band. He was replaced by Marco Hietala, of Tarot. This lineup has remained stable ever since, and has released 2 more full length albums, Century Child and Once, which is the band’s best seller to date.
Opens hard and fast, with rapid chord and drum blasts. The song then enters into a synthesizer/guitar duet that has a very Middle Eastern feel to it. Nice lead guitar part by Emppu, then Tarja’s vocals come in, and the listener is fully aware of her talent. She is one of the best singers of this generation, and it shows...her voice is immensely emotional and matches the music perfectly. About two thirds of the way through, we are treated to a keyboard solo by Tuomas. Tuomas very rarely solos in any of their records, but when he does, it is terrific to hear. Instruments fade out soon after this, leaving flutes and an acoustic piano. This doesn’t last for long, however, as the instruments come back in for one last chorus. The intro is repeated, and the song ends. A great start to a great album. 4/5
Ah, HERES where the album shows its great side. Opens with an AMAZING piano/guitar duet. This is one of the best intros i’ve heard in a long time. Tarja comes in with synths and palm muted chords behind her. Chorus has a pretty piano lead. Instruments fade in and out at numerous points in the song. First time instruments fade out, leaving strings and Tarja’s soulful wailing. Instruments fade back in, and soon after, fade out again, leaving only a lone violin (i think) and Tarja again. Pretty soon after, Emppu has a solo. Now, its not like his usual lead parts...this guy can SHRED, and he does it as well as any other shredder. Piano/guitar duet part like the beginning ends the song. This is one of Nightwish’s finer songs on the album, and it is truly an amazing track to listen to. 5/5
Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean:
A personal favorite of mine, it opens with a dark guitar riff. This riff is repeated while Jukka plays a double bass drum “assault"...it is quite good. The synths play some filler material, and then the bass and drums come in, as well as vocals done by a MAN. Some may say the vocals detract from the song...I dont. I think the vocals give the song much more atmosphere. Then the whole band comes in behind Tarja’s vocals, which, as always, are soaring. The intro riff is repeated with an interesting synth part over it, and the male vocals come back in again. Then, the song stops abruptly, and Tarja’s voice gives the impression that you are falling. The male vocals come in yet again, this time deeper than they were before. Soon after, a terrific drum beat is provided by Jukka, with alternating hits of 2 and 4, and 1 and 3 on the snare, while both bass drums are going. The song stops yet again, and the male vocals come in at their lowest. Then, the song seems to convey that a great battle has been won, as the tone of the song suddenly becomes much happier. The intro is repeated again, and the song ends abruptly. Good song on all fronts. 4.5/5
Sacrament Of Wilderness:
A slower song than the previous 3, the intro seems to be more synth-based. Another pretty guitar/synth duet, and Tarja comes in. The chorus in this song is quite good, as Emppu provides the harmony part to Tarja’s voice with his guitar. Emppu has a short solo in this song...nothing to brag about, but its decent. However, Tuomas has a solo as well in this song, which adds a lot. Chorus is repeated, then suddenly switches keys, to a higher key. Little shredding thing at the end, and the song comes to a close. A decent song...nothing that stands out, but not worth skipping over either. 4/5
Passion And The Opera:
I don’t like this song as much as the others, but it’s ok. Opens with just the guitar playing, then an overdubbed rhythm guitar, drums and bass come in as well. Afterwards, Tarja and the synths come in. Tarja’s vocals convey a huge range of emotions in this song. The chorus seems to be based around mythology.
“An Aphrodite for mortal souls
Playing hide and seek in lecherous roles
Their erotic hour my tearless weep
Their satisfaction my infinite sleep"
Emppu has a lead part after this, and the song goes back into the verse. Instruments cut out at around halfway through the song, leaving only the drums and a string section. And then...whats this? An opera solo from Tarja?! You really have to hear this to believe it...this is where the band really shows their blend of different styles. The rest of the instruments and another voice come in for the second half of Tarja’s “solo". The song fades out with all of the instruments playing and Tarja wailing extremely emotionally. As I said before, i dont like this song very much. But it’s ok. 3.5/5
Ah, the obligatory Nightwish ballad. Opens with the flutes and an acoustic piano. Strings join Tarja as she sings. As usual, her voice is very pretty. This fact is accented with the nature of the song...very slow, very soulful. A harp makes an appearance during this song (at least, it sounds like a harp, it may be something else). Drums and bass come in halfway through the song. Guitar joins after a verse. Instruments fade...then fade back in with Emppu playing a harmonized guitar lead. This lead takes us to the end, where it speeds up a little bit. Then the song ends. This sounds a lot like the other ballads they did...since it's Nightwish, however, it's still brilliant4/5
An instrumental track. The only vocals are crys of “Hey!" by male voices. Starts with the piano, and then the snare drum is hit, and all the instruments come in. The flutes make an appearance on this song again. This song has a very Russian feel to it. Now, I’m not trying to be biased or racist, its just how i would describe the song. Otherwise, this song is nothing special. 3/5
This song is dominated by synths. Interesting intro, and Tarja comes in backed by the synths and drums. Emppu has another lead part, and the song enters the chorus. The parts of this song seem to be repeated a lot, more than the other songs. The instruments fade out, save for the synths and drums. The bass has a little part, and Tarja comes back in...and gradually, so do the instruments. The song builds up, and builds up, until the guitar speeds up and the song enters the chorus for the last time. It may seem to some that the album is getting boring around this point. 4/5
The Pharaoh Sails To Orion:
However, we are saved by the longest, and possibly best, song on the album. Opens with bells ringing and a chorus and strings conveying a sense of doom approaching. Then suddenly, the drums and guitar blast in along with the deep, dark male vocals from track 3. The vocals do their part, and the song launches into the best part of the whole album, played by the whole band. An amazing piano part is played over palm muted guitar, and a terrific drum beat, where Jukka plays the best on the album. Jukka’s drumming seems to be the greatest on this album, as he fully utilizes all of his drums and cymbals. Anyway, the male vocals come back in, then the song suddenly drops down a key or two, and Tarja comes in with a chorus behind her. The male vocals and Tarja alternate twice, and then the piano part is repeated again. The piano has numerous parts in this song that are too great to explain with words...you just have to hear it. Suddenly, the song becomes happier, with Tarja singing behind palm muted chords. The song returns to its dark state, with the male vocals and Tuomas on synths alternating this time. The flutes come in, and then the instruments fade out and in numerous times while the strings play a great fast riff. Then, Tarja starts wailing in the background, over all of the instruments. Emppu has a tiny shredding part, and the song becomes “happy" again. Then, the song becomes slower and slower, eventually breaking into a shredding solo...then the solo goes on for a minute, and you get to see the full extent of Emppu’s guitar playing abilities. He does not get the credit that he deserves, as he is an excellent guitarist. After the solo ends, the song ends, and the listener is left in awe at this perfectly crafted piece of music. 5/5
Walking In The Air:
A cover song. Opens with a lone violin and rain sounds, then the flutes and piano come in. Afterwards, more strings and Tarja’s soulful voice come in. This is another more ballad-ish type song. Its slower than the last song, and concentrates more on Tarja than the instruments. Her voice is just beautiful in this song. Drums, bass and guitar eventually come in. The flutes make numerous appearances in this song, more than any other. Emppu has a lead part about 2/3 of the way through. Then, an overdubbed guitar starts playing harmony to Emppu’s part. The instruments fade, and then the strings get their part to play. The whole band comes in after this, and close out the song this way. A very good slow song. 4/5
The “hidden" track, its not listed on the back, but is a separate track. Opens with a beautiful (im using this word a lot) synth riff, and gradually, the bass and drums come in along with Tarja. Tarja is at her most emotional in this song, and the song complements this. The chorus is just an amazing effort by Tarja...it could make you cry, almost. The guitar plays a little palm muted part in the second verse. In the chorus, either strings or the synth posing as strings are played behind Tarja’s voice. After the second chorus, some soulful wailing ensues, which adds to the song. Then, everything fades out, and it leaves the guitar with a little lead part. The instruments fade back in, the guitar does its thing...and then the chorus changes key, and the most emotional and beautiful part of the album is heard. The emotion in this part is just phenomanal. Its one of those parts where words cannot convey one's feelings. The instruments fade out, and the album comes to a close. One of the best closing songs ive heard in a long time. 5/5
This is Nightwish’s most technical and talented release to date. Every member of the band shines in this song, whether it be Tarja’s beautiful emotional opera vocals, countless amazing piano riffs by Tuomas, shredtastic (my word) solos by Emppu, and the chaotic yet contained drumming of Jukka. This album is a must have for Nightwish fans, and basically a must have for anybody looking for a terrific album to own.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
Note: This is my first review. Any feedback on how to make it better would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!