Nightwish - Over The Hills And Far Away
June 2001 on Spinefarm/Century Media
Tarja Turunen - Vocals
Emppu Vuorinen - Guitars
Tuomas Holopainen - Keyboards/Synthesizers
Sami Vanska - Bass
Jukka Nevalainen - Drums
Ah, Nightwish...possibly one of the most original bands today. If you have never heard of Nightwish, you may be suprised...the band blends a variated power metal sound, more symphonic, almost like symphonic metal, with an opera singer. Some people may say “Oh, i don’t like Tarja’s voice...it’s too trained." I, however, think that she is one of the best singers of our generation...she has an unbelievably emotional voice, perfectly matching the style of music that Nightwish plays.
Over The Hills And Far Away is actually an EP that was publicly released. Although it only has 3 new tracks, it can be considered another great release in the Nightwish discography. As always, there is a cover..."Over The Hills And Far Away" was a Gary Moore song originally. Also included on the EP is a remake of Astral Romance, from Angels Fall First, and various live tracks.
And now, the tracks. I will only be reviewing the first four tracks, as the live ones are basically the same thing as their studio counterparts...however, they are still worth a listen.
The album kicks off with Over The Hills And Far Away
. It starts with an almost warlike drum beat and a chorus, possibly synthesized, singing very low. Tarja and keyboards come in a little later, as always, full of emotion. The drums gradually build up, and the rest of the band comes in. Guitar and keyboard do a little duet, and then Tarja comes back in, backed by palm muted guitars. Emppu adds little lead parts here and there, and then the chorus comes in. The chorus is beautiful...Tarja sings with another harmonized voice, and the synths do an excellent job. The intro part with the whole band is repeated, and another verse ensues. The chorus is repeated, with a variation on the lyrics, and a choir comes in for the second part of the chorus. Tarja repeates, “Over the hills and far away" a few times over the intro drums, and the synths come in playing the intro part. The guitars soon join it (Emppu must have overdubbed himself), and interlude is played, and a guitar solo ensues. It is quite good by Nightwish standards...not too fast, not too slow. A bridge is repeated, and we go into the final chorus. Everything fades out but drums, synths, and Tarja backed by what sounds like a male AND female chorus. Other instruments fade out, leaving just the voices, and then the whole band comes back in in a different key, which adds to the emotion much more. This part of the song is just beautiful...its so emotional. Tarja then proceeds to sing with the guitar playing the harmony to her voice, and the song ends on a fadeout with the guitar soloing and the rest of the band playing the chorus. Possibly Nightwish’s best cover. 10/10
The next track, 10th Man Down
, begins with synths, and what sounds like shouting and gunfire in the background. The drums, bass, and guitar fade up along with the synths, switch keys, with Tarja and a chorus wailing over it, and then the song truly begins. An instrumental part is played here, and then a verse ensues. Nothing special here...sounds like normal Nightwish. The chorus comes in with Tarja and a chorus singing over synths, double bass drums and palm muted guitars. The song seems to be about the horrors of the war, as the chorus goes:
“Cut me free, bleed with me, oh no
One by one, we will fall, down down
Pull the plug, end the pain, run n fight for life
Hold on tight, this ain’t my fight."
The instrumental intro part is repeated, and another verse is repeated. The chorus is repeated again, and a new instrumental part comes in, this one more synth based. Tarja and a chorus begin wailing in time with the synths, and then the synths fade out, leaving just palm muted guitars.The synths then come back in, with a male voice singing low, deep vocals, a la Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean or The Pharaoh Sails To Orion. His voice sounds very evil. His voice fades out, Tarja comes back in, and then fades out along with everything except synths. The rest of the band comes back in a few seconds later, and the male voice comes back in. The male voice alternates between instrumental parts. A chorus joins him, and then all vocals fade, leaving just guitar, bass, and drums. Tarja and synths come back in, a little interlude comes in, and the chorus is repeated twice. The instruments get slower and slower, and hold their last chords, ending the song. For those who favor the low male vocals (many don’t, but I do), this is a good song. Otherwise, it is standard Nightwish fare. However, since Nightwish’s songwriting skills are through the roof, this song is much better than what other bands would consider “filler." 9/10
The third track, Away
, is, of course, a ballad. Nightwish has included a ballad on every one of their studio releases to date. Anyway, it begins with low synths. Tarja comes in, and the synths gradually gain in pitch, although they are still pretty low. A drum fill, and Tarja comes back in with the rest of the band. This song focuses on emotion...a LOT of emotion. Instruments fade out, leaving Tarja and the synths once again. A new drum fill, and the chorus is repeated twice. Tarja’s harmony part is very good...full of emotion. Tarja begins wailing over the rest of the band...this is the part of the song that WILL give you goosebumps. It’s just that haunting, yet beautiful at the same time. It gains and gains emotion, and then stops abruptly, leaving only Tarja and synths once again. The chorus is repeated yet again, and suddenly switches keys, making it much more emotional. The chorus keeps repeating as the song fades. This is, without a doubt, one of Nightwish’s best ballads they have written. The emotion in this piece is unsurpassed with the rest of the album. 9.5/10
The fourth track, Astral Romance
, is a remake of a song the band originally had on their first album, Angels Fall First. The song begins with a guitar and synths, the synths having held chords and the guitar playing single notes. Drums and bass come in, the guitar plays a few chords, and then begins playing a harmony to the part it was playing in the beginning. This part is repeated a few times, and then the guitar begins to play palm muted chords. The song suddenly switches key, and Tarja comes in with a chorus behind her. The chorus comes in and out throughout this part. This part is repeated twice, and then, suddenly, everything fades out but Tarja, soulfully wailing. A short “pulse" by the instruments, and then everything comes back in. However, Tarja takes a backseat with her wailing, as a male vocalist sings over her. The male vocalist is none other than Tony Kakko, the lead singer for Sonata Arctica (another great power metal band that you all should check out). He is a great match for Tarja...they just flow so well together. He sings over Tarja, a chorus, and palm muted guitar chords. The song suddenly goes doubletime...everything increases speed while still in the same tempo. All the voices fade out, and all that is left is the instrumental portion of the band. They do their thing for a while, and suddenly hit their last notes...until the synths come back in, playing the guitar intro riff. The rest of the band joins soon after, and a male voice (probably Kakko) whispers a measure. Tarja comes back in, and as she fades out, a guitar solo starts. Now, this solo is a much better solo than the one in Over The Hills And Far Away...it showcases Emppu’s talent on guitar far better. Many don’t give him credit for being a good guitarist...however, he really is a good guitarist. He can throw down solos with the best of them. Emppu’s solo ends, and the intro riff on guitar is played, and the song slows, and ends. Now, i have not heard the original...however, if it is as good as this version, it is a great, great song. 10/10
The remaining tracks are all live tracks from Nightwish’s 3 previous full lengths: Angels Fall First, Oceanborn and Wishmaster. Although they aren’t much different from their studio versions, they are still fun to listen to...the crowd really gets into them. Tony Kakko contributes vocals again, this time to Beauty And The Beast.
: Is this worth the price of a full album, even though there are only 3 new songs? Absolutely. Each and every track is a gem on this album (each new track, mind you). If you also like live stuff, pick this up as well...however, pick this up, if only for 1 song or the 3 new ones. You won’t be disappointed...Nightwish really shines on this release, and any fan would love to have this.
Final Rating: 8/10
After careful deliberation, I have changed the rating of this review...while all the tracks are good, considering I paid 15 dollars for this, it's kind of expensive...
Still an album worthy of Nightwish faithful to own.