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This album, "Century Child", was basically my introduction to Nightwish. It's one that I go back and listen to every once in a while. It's not perfect by any means, but it holds a special place in my heart.
To put it simply, most of the songs are above average. There definitely are parts that drag on for a bit too long, like the intro to Bless the Child. Thankfully, this version includes an edit of the song, making it two minutes shorter. There also seems to be a lack of speed in general when compared to their other albums. I guess that was in attempt to get a broader appeal, but it feels like that holds them back from their full potential. Forever Yours works great as a ballad, but if the point of a song is to be hard-hitting power metal, it's such a shame not to go the extra mile with speed and intensity. I don't have a problem with the orchestral/symphonic elements though, I find that stuff quite nice, if not just a bit simple and straight-forward. Some of the lyrics are also somewhat sappy.
I have mixed feelings regarding their Phantom of the Opera cover. On one hand, it's a classic which they pulled off well, but on the other hand, the version included in the "End of an Era" DVD is far superior which just makes me wish that was included here instead. Speaking of which, this collector's edition also has two live tracks from Summer Breeze Open Air, but honestly, they're nothing special. Once again showing off how the singers have thick Finnish accents when performing live. As for the other bonus tracks, Lagoon and The Wayfarer, they're pretty forgettable.
Of course Tarja did a great job as usual here with her majestic opera voice, but I just wish Marco could have been given a few more lines since they compliment each other so well. So overall, if you're a die-hard Nightwish fan, this is a must-listen, at least if you're okay with the slower pace. Otherwise, this may be too soft for your liking. Cheesy and over-the-top, it does have its flaws, but I still enjoy it.
My introduction to Nightwish was the Once album, and while at first I was happy there was a less lame altermative rock sounding band with a female voice, the more I listened to Once the less I liked it. I wondered if Nightwish fell victim to the common pitfall of "their older stuff is way better." I went searching for older stuff and came across Century Child. After I listened to it, I thought it was easily a better album than Once. Still, it was not perfect then, particularly on the second half of the album, and nowadays I've come to realize that Once's problem boring detuned chords, a sad lack of guitar solos, more reliance on Pantera grooves would start right here. All the trends in metal Nightwish had subconciously said fuck you to on their first three albums were now rising to the forefront of their music. Not a good sign.
Another thing that can be noticed here is Tarja's vocal style has changed. It's also where you start to hear her breathing. ALOT. and once you notice it, you can't help but wonder how the hell this woman ever got acclaim for control and technique.
So what can all this be blamed on? Marco Hietala? According to sources Marco liked tuning his basses in D so the rest of the band needed to tune around him. I would say, well tune up or find another band but it appears Tuomas wanted that sound anyway. But still, Sami was never a creative force in the band and Marco's ideas even to this day are used very sparingly. So it's certainly not a Dio-esque scenario where he subconciously took over the bands direction. and its not like Sami was John Entwistle or anything close Marco is an improvement.
Still, I'd be lying if I said there weren't good songs on here. The first time I heard Bless The Child I thought it blew away anything on Once is a decent song, though with repeated listens, one notices that the whole buildup is a bit much and frankly for it to go 6 minutes and not have a guitar solo is pretty lame. End of All Hope on the other hand, is the albums first truly great moment. This easily could have been on Wishmaster or Oceanborn. Dead To The World is a midpaced thrasher (by Nightwish standards) and is actually our introduction to Marco. It has a fantastic catchy chorus and if it has a flaw, its the clean breakdown section 2/3 of the way through but to be fair there were other Nightwish songs that did that, even on Oceanborn. Ever Dream is an interesting case. While it starts with a piano build up and doesn't seem to have any real riff, its still a lot of fun and the solo is one of Emppu's better moments as a lead player. Slaying The Dreamer is actually the perfect example of modern Nightwish's good ideas and bad ideas. The bad ideas come in the form of that Pantera breakdown groove near the end. I will say that Tarja doing an opera yowl over the band's thrashing makes it listenable, but you already had a damn good riff and concept to start the song with, so there was no real reason to spill the Pantera into it, both musically and vocally. Besides part of what makes old Nightwish so great was that unlike every other band in the 90s Nightwish seemed to be ignoring the cues of Pantera. Guess that's your proof that Pantera ruins everything, in the sense that no one should try to be them except them.
You can call me a cheesy hopeless romantic, but for some silly perverse reason I dig the fuck out of Forever Yours. No its no Swanheart, it completely reeks of Celine Dion and there's no guitar solo, but somehow I just can't hate this. Fuck I'm surprised Tarja hasn't busted it out as a first encore at her solo shows. You know the crowd of goth-girls would become completely unglued.
While I'm in the minority on that song, the fact is that song and most of the rest of the second half of the album is where the albums big flaw comes in. Most of this is just filler. It's inoffensive filler, but Tuomas himself admitted these songs were never played live because they just weren't that good.
Then there's the Phantom of the Opera cover, and THIS is the cheesiest track on the album. I don't really give a rats ass how much of a theater nut Tuomas is, he really should know better. If you have a track called Phantom of the Opera on your album that's indicated to be a cover and its NOT the Iron Maiden song, frankly you deserve a flogging, but it being the Andrew Lloyd Webber song. Oh you think that riff sounds heavy huh? Guess what, Roger Waters did too. That's why he wrote it back in 1970. Buttholes.
The final song on here is an unsung classic. I can't say if it's the greatest Nightwish song, but its the best song on here and it would be the best song on any other Nightwish album (well....maybe not Oceanborn). I heard this and when it concluded I was awestruck, then I burst into laughter remember how inferior Ghost Love Score was to this song. Not to mention it has one of the greatest most defining lyrics of the whole metal genre "All of my songs, can only be composed of the greatest of pains!" Sure it sounds narmy cheesy and melodramatic, but you think back to Black Sabbath. You think of the Iron Mans and the Genocides and the Hallowed Be Thy Names and the Angel of Deaths and goddammit, for once Tuomas is right! That's exactly what the metal genre is all about!
This is the last Nightwish album worth bothering with. It's by no means essential, but if you can't get enough of Tarja and pals (an unfortunate side-effect of female fronted bands in a genre with a most male fanbase) you certainly won't be ruining your tastes too much with Century Child.
Most metal bands that aimed the mutual love with the mainstream did not fall into mediocrity instantly: there was always a solid, yet disturbingly uninspired work that preceded all the crap that the band would later do. Although Metallica's self-titled album is the example that you are probably thinking of right now, examples are more than a few: Sepultura had "Roots" (which is nowhere near the musical abomination people often say it is); Slayer had "Undisputed Attitude" and so on.
That being said, I fail to see what went wrong with Nightwish. They fell so quickly with their album "Once" that I was actually VERY surprised. It is okay to say that this album showed us some signs that things were going to change: Tuomas hired a new vocalist, Marco Hietala, Tarja pulled back on her operatic singing a bit and there was a full backing orchestra, but it was impossible to predict that their next album, "Once", would suck so badly.
This album is certainly more palatable to the mainstream than their previous ones, but it still retains most of the characteristics that made Nightwish so great: we still have inspired solos (from both the guitars and the keyboards), orchestra elements (as I said in the last paragraph, there is actually an entire orchestra playing with the band) and epic lyrics. The lyrics, by the way, are by far the darkest ones Tuomas had written at the time when this album was released. The lyrics are not Necrophagia-like stuff and are not by any means silly: they are dark because they feel sincere. In Century Child we get to see a Nightwish that barely gave any hints of existing before: an introspective, sad and disturbingly intimate Nightwish that doesn't think twice when it is time to expose a human's soul completely. The fantasy-based lyrics that empowered the cheerful power metal of Wishmaster and Oceanborn are gone for good, and in their place we get to see what has become Nightwish's signature theme: the loss of innocence and the consequences that it has to the individual.
This album is very diverse: we get to see ballads (Forever Yours, Ever Dream, Feel For You), heavier songs (Ocean Soul, Slaying the Dreamer) and even two masterpieces that rescue the epic feeling of Tarja’s operatic vocals, being them “End of All Hope” and “The Phantom of The Opera” (which is as good as Webber’s version, by the way). Bless the Child, the song that Tuomas used to introduce us to the lyrical content of this album, is a kind of weird song because it is both very relaxed and very tragic. Beauty of The Beast is an extremely long song that summarizes the lyrical content of the album: it talks about love that has ended and loss of innocence and is probably the darkest song Nightwish has ever written.
I am going to spend a paragraph in order to talk about Marco Hietala and what he added to this CD. As a bassist, he made everything heavy as fuck with an extremely distorted and downtuned bass that definitely adds to the omnipresent atmosphere of darkness and as a vocalist he worked extremely well. He is definitely better than Tuomas, and better than most male singers Nightwish had worked with since Tuomas stopped singing. However, we don’t get to listen to him a lot in this album: his duets with Tarja are amazing, but they appear in only two songs, Dead to The World and (obviously) Phantom of The Opera, and in the rest of the album he only makes a few appearances. His voice is extremely interesting, since it somehow mixes classic metal vocals with thrash metal ones, but it is extremely underused.
Century Child is an average album in two aspects: when compared to “Oceanborn” and "Wishmaster", it simply doesn’t feel like metal that much, and when compared to “Dark Passion Play”, the orchestra simply isn’t used as much as it could be. The vocals and the guitars are better here than in “Once” and “Dark Passion Play”, but worse than in Oceanborn and Wishmaster, and there are more different timbres here than in their previous works, but much less than in their latter albums. Century Child is a gateway album, which is not like the old Nightwish, but is not like the new Nightwish either. If you are a fan of the band, you must buy it in order to understand what happened to it. If you are just a metalhead that somehow came across this review and doesn’t have any special bounds with Nightwish, just download “End of All Hope”, “Beauty of The Beast” and buy their “best of” compilation, Highest Hopes.
"Angels Fall First" started the grand fiasco, "Oceanborn" sank into the listerns' veins, and "Wishmaster" propelled them to the stratusphere as best and orchestral metal band could. Of course, such a surge in popularity usually comes with a payment of integrity as other bands of their ilk have gone through (METALLICA being the first that comes to mind), but in Tuomas' case, it was more of a slightly gradual decline into the mire of mediocrity that took an album or two to enter. Before NIGHTWISH became a detestable pop group with "Once" and the abominable "Dark Passion Play", we at least had a chance to bear farewell to their orchestral niceties with "Century Child".
This is. by and large, some of their darkest and most epic work to date; not a blistering foray of riffs and symphonic madness ala the aformentioned "Wishmaster", the music therein goes right for the emotions, generating sensations of sadness and anger (moreso the former than latter...this is a quite depressing album). The keyboards and Tarja's amazing voice are still the prime instruments in the compositions, with guitar and bass a slight rhythm-section afterthought. Despite the lyrics comign off as veiled Emo-y Christian lore, it's overlooked by Tarja's voice, who is still one of the best female voices in metal music (screw Angela Gossow or that broad from IN THIS MOMENT); however, the operatic approach is more streamlined, and her singing is a thinner, more "regular" sounding approach. Not that that's a bad thing, as the official foray into "mainstream" vocals wouldn't manifest into "Once"...it shows just how far she can take her voice, though I'll be one to admit that her operatic style fits both her and the music more than what's used here.
If any problems exist with this, it's that the music was starting to become a bit more middle-of-the-road. Obviously a follow-up to "Wishmaster" would be an arduous task at best, and I'm sure Tuomas knew that and instead opted for something different, but although the songs themselves are top notch ("End of all Hope", "Ever Dream", "Ocean Soul" and "Feel For You" are among the best tracks presented) with few fillers, one could detect that the soul of the music was starting to fade, albeit just a touch.
At the end of the day, "Century Child" is still an enjoyable but slightly mediocre album that is great for what it is...a precursor to a nadir in creativity the band would embrace in future releases.
After the epic masterpiece that was Wishmaster, the band had a difficult job of matching that kind of quality work in any following releases. For the most part, I think that they did. Beginning with a somber monologue, this is a far different work than anything that the band had done in the past. Rather than doing a clone of Wishmaster or Oceanborn, they pulled back a bit and did a more subtle, subdued, and lyrically mature album, without sacrificing any of the qualities that had made them popular in the first place.
One noticeable change is Tarja's vocals. While they are still just as good as ever, she pulls back a bit on the operatic singing. The result is that the album has a far more laid-back feeling than the previous two, and possibly more commercially palatable for newer Nightwish fans than the older material, though they by no means even come close to "selling out" on this album. Despite this, there is still a good bit of opera, such as on songs like End Of All Hope and Phantom of the Opera. Indeed, Tarja seemlessly flows between her different vocal styles. Rather than hurting the band's sound, this gives the album greater emotional depth than the first three albums. It is quite clear from this album that she is an artist who pushes herself, is not satisfied with sticking to only one style, and this comes out in her flawless and diverse performance on Century Child.
Another big change is the inclusion of Marco Hietala of band Tarot as the new bassist and male vocalist. Ever since Tuomas stopped doing vocals after Angels Fall First, Nightwish had had some male singers in some of their songs, but they were only guest vocalists with no longterm attachments to the band. Marco, however, is a full-fledged member, and he brings his powerful Dio-esque vocals to the table. He features most prominently on the duets of Dead to the World and Phantom of the Opera, as providing some important backing harmony vocals for Beauty of the Beast. Especially on Phantom, he helps to add a new dimension to the band's music. His singing in no way upstages Tarja, but helps to complement her vocals and very nicely. Despite being new to the band, his singing does not seem out of place at all, and his 80's heavy metal-style of singing meshes very well with Nightwish's symphonic power metal style. Now, it is important to realize that beyond the two duets, he only shows up briefly in one or two other songs. The vocal portion of the album is still mostly reserved for Tarja, probably for good reason. While Tarot is a respected member of the Finnish metal scene, most Nightwish fans undoubtedly bought Century Child hoping to hear Tarja's vocals, and were not used to hearing Marco in the band. The inclusion of too much Marco might have unnerved them. Still, he delivers a very memorable performance, one which foreshadows his later, more substantial, vocal performances with the band.
Also, unlike the previous three albums, this one has a full backing orchestra. The sad thing is, I barely notice it. Oh sure, the backing chorus and strings are very well done. The thing is, all of the Nightwish albums have had some symphonic elements, but the first three did not have full orchestras. You would think that in Century Child, which has an orchestra, the symphonic elements would be much more pronounced, but they aren't. Besides the orchestra's chorus, which goes along very well with some songs like Bless The Child, I don't notice any significant increase of orchestration as compared to the previous albums, or at least, not much. This is sad, since the Finnish orchestra that was used could have really added something to the album, but instead, it is usually far in the background. Maybe this is to be understandable, as Tuomas, the band's manager, may not have had that much experience working with full orchestras, and may not have wanted to get too far over his head. Also, a subdued orchestra may have been done to preserve the album's atmosphere. Still, the lack of the orchestra's prominence strikes me as something as a wasted opportunity.
Now to get to the music itself; this is a concept album. Well, sort of. Not all of the songs go together. But most of them revolve around concepts concerning the fate of unnamed "Child," some mysterious being called "Ocean Soul," and how Tuomas addresses some mysterious love interest by repeatedly saying that " I feel for you." While there are specific songs dedicated to each of these ideas, they pop up in multiple places throughout the album, and they all come together in the final epic piece, Beauty of the Beast. I can only assume that Ocean Soul is a character of sorts from one of Tuomas' favorite fantasy series, used in a manner similar to that of how he used Dragonlance characters in Wishmaster. Or maybe he/she/it is a creature purely created by Tuomas, I really don't know. The Child strikes me as a metaphorical image about innocence, and how the loss of innocence is a great tragedy, not just for the individual, but for all of humanity. There is even some Christian imagery put in, as the closing monologue of Bless The Child states that "without innocence the cross is only iron." Nighwish is by no means a Christian band, but these images do add further depth to the album's overall metaphorical themes. The repeated phrase of "feel for you" is obviously just an address to a woman that he cares about. The interesting part of this album is that all of these themes are meshed together lyrically in a manner that leaves the interpretation of a number of the album's songs wide open. Unlike the straightforward lyrics of Wishmaster's title track, you have to think about what some of Century Child's songs are telling you. I won't say that I understand all of what the band was trying to communicate in the album, but I will say that the way that it's done, it's extremely beautfiul. I strong believe that Tuomas is one of modern metal's best, most inspired lyricists, and this album just might be his lyrical masterpiece (earlier and later Nightwish albums beat out this in a number of other areas, but I think that Century Child is the band's lyrical highpoint). While a few lackuster tracks stops this album from becoming a continuous metal symphony, it comes quite close to being the perfect union of heavy metal and classical music.
It's been said that this is the band's darkest album. To some extent, this is true. Both its lyrics and the music itself do have a "dark" feeling to them. However, this darkness doesn't come from any attempts at Slayer-like lyrics and riffs. Rather, it comes from the increasingly personal lyrics. While previous albums have had some emotional pieces, like Wishmaster's Dead Boy's Poem, with their mainly fantasy-based themes, there's little that the listener can relate to in the lyrics. You can only squeeze out so much emotion of from songs about Lord of the Rings and Disney characters. On Century Child, however, the lyrics are based more on personal feelings and desires, and coupled with Tarja's more streamlined vocals, they give the album less of a "high opera" atmosphere, and they make the album feel a good bit more intimate and relatable. Don't get me wrong, their previous material is spectacular, and in a few ways, better than Century Child. But Century Child shows a much more mature Nightwish. When it comes to instrumention, Tuomas' keyboards are there as fluidly complementing the orchestration, but they are noticeably retracted, at least his faster playing. In exchange for the lightning fast keyboarding of Oceanborn, Wishmaster, and the studio songs of the Over The Hills And Far Away EP, we hear sedate but skillful piano playing that goes well with the album's more contemplative atmosphere.
Looking at the songs themselves, they range from extremely fast and heavy songs that would characterize much of the band's material on the following two albums, to mid-tempo and slower heavy songs, to some of Nightwish's most laidback ballads. When it comes to the heaviest stuff, the star tracks are End Of All Hope, Dead To The World, and Phantom of the Opera. As stated before, Dead is an excellent Tarja/Marco duet, with some excellent old-school Nightwish keyboarding and a catchy chorus. End Of All Hope, one of the album's singles, sounds like it would have perfectly fit in on Wishmaster, with Tarja's booming operatic voice and prominent symphonics. Phantom especially deserves recognition. This cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's showtune is another of the album's duets, with Tarja singing the part of of Christine, and Marco singing the part of the Phantom. Tarja's vocals are just as powerful as they were on Oceanborn, and Marco does, as a person on another internet forum put it, some "righteous wailing." Unlike the clunky Tarja/Tuomas duets of Angels Fall First, Tarja and Marco sound excellent when they sing together, making you really feel like you are in an opera house. Another heavy song is Slaying The Dreamer. It's basically about Tuomas lashing out at his critics and those he feels are holding him back. While it's not unpleasant to listen to, it's a rather forgettable song, and one of the reasons why I'm not giving this album a 100% rating. When it comes to the slower heavy songs, Bless The Child definitely stands out. As the album's first song, it sets the tone of the CD. While all of the previous (and following) Nightwish albums all start with a fast song, Bless The Child's more relaxed pace and somber lyrics perfectly fits with the album's atmosphere, and is inarguably one of the album's best songs. Ever Dream is another other slow and heavy song which stands out. I personally feel that it is one of heavy metal's greatest love songs. Ocean Soul also falls into "slow and heavy" song category, but it's another forgettable song, as neither its riffs nor lyrics grab you in any sort of way. When it comes to the ballads, Forever Yours and Feel For You, Forever Yours is pretty good, but Feel For You is a real gem. Behind Ever Dream, it is possibly one of metal's best ballads, and one of the album's best songs. Finally, the album ends with Beauty of the Beast, Nightwish's second longest song behind The Poet and the Pendulum. It starts off slow and gradually becomes heavier faster, and more symphonic. In a number of ways, it simply repeats some of the same themes, and indeed, some of the same lyrics, heard in previous songs. In the first part, you would swear that you are listening to nothing more than an encore of Feel For You. But this isn't just some sloppy mash of the other songs, but rather, it is a clever melding together all of the major ideas of the album, pulling them all together in a manner that is more befitting of an opera or musical than of a metal album. Also, just as the abum began with a spoken monologue about "the Child", so it ends with one. Beauty of the Beast repeats what's been sung before, but not in a way that feels needlessly repetitive. Instead, it wraps up the album on a grand note that ties together the album's big themes, while still leaving you thinking about the meaning behind them. Even more so than Oceanborn ending with the ballad of Sleeping Sun, I believe that Century Child has the best ending and wrap-up song of any Nightwish album.
To sum everything up, this a breathtaking album. One or two weak songs, as well as a an overly subdued orchestra, prevented me from giving this album a perfect score. But aside for these minor weaknesses, this is the closest thing that I've ever heard to a metal equivalent of a full-fledged classical symphony. Even Dark Passion Play, with its prominent and superb use of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, does not have the consistency of Century Child. While other Nightwish albums might be above this one in terms of raw epic metal power, none of them are have the lyrical depth or emotion that this one does.
Did the band succeed in topping Wishmaster? In a number of ways, it most certainly did. This album goes beyond mere symphonic power metal. I will admit that much of this album went over my head when I first listened to it, but I've slowly come to recognize its genius. Before buying this album, I had not heard anything like it, and somehow, I doubt that I ever will. Just as Marco says at the beginning:
"I dreamt all my future. Relived my past.
And witnessed the beauty of the beast."
Before "Century Child", Nightwish had only an excellent album ("Oceanborn"), and two very good albums ("Angels Fall First" and "Wishmaster"). But this album was born like the child it talks about to change it all: it's darkness and concept are, were and will always be surprising for a fourth album. I'm sure that, if "Oceanborn" was alive, it would have enraged for being in danger of losing it's place as "the best Nightwish album ever". And that would have happened again with the release of "Dark Passion Play", I'm sure!
But enough of other albums. Let's focus on this one.
"Century Child" means a depart from the previous Nightwish albums, like an experimental one. But, differently from the typical experimental albums (that usually are a complete disaster), this one is incredibly good. Orchestra, Tarja's sweet voice, Marco's first album with the band, artwork and concept... all that almost perfect. Let's look deeper by reviewing every aspect of this album.
First, the idea to use one of the best orchestras of Finland was perfect, because strings play a very important role on this album: they bring the concept to life, give beauty to the songs and fit very well with Tarja's voice.
Then, let's take a look at Tarja's voice. Since the first time anyone that has listened the three previous albums listens to the album, he/she can notice that Tarja's voice is different than before. Songs like "Bless The Child", "Ever Dream", "Forever Yours" and "Ocean Soul" are proof of that, and the reason is obvious: Tarja improved her voice from "Over The Hills and Far Away" to "Century Child", and that allowed her to perform very high and sweet tunes.
Another important element that makes this album outstanding is the fact that this is the first album with the talented power/trash metal singer and guitarrist/bassist Marco Hietala on the line-up. Marco's voice gave the album the aggressivity it needed to really become a symphonic/power metal album, not just a symphonic metal one. And sice then, Marco has kept on apporting his own style to make Nightwish albums a little more attractive for fans.
Now, let's talk about the songs. There are 10 songs included in the album, and two B-sides ("The Wayfarer" and "Lagoon") that appear on the Limited Editions of the album, or in the singles (for example, "The Wayfarer" is featured on the "Ever Dream" single; and "Lagoon" on the "Bless The Child" single). The most interesting song of the B-sides is definitely "Lagoon", because it's the first Nightwish song to include techno-electronic tunes as its main elements.
From the songs that are included on the album, I only have to complain about "Slaying The Dreamer". What the hell was Tuomas thinking on when he wrote that song? I have no idea, but it was nothing good for the album. The other ten songs are incredibly good, and the "highlights" this time are: "Bless The Child", "Dead To The World", "Ocean Soul", "Phantom of The Opera" and "Beauty of The Beast".
Before moving on with the review, I feel I need to talk about three songs of tha album, because they're special, the best and it wouldn't be fair at all not taking about them: These songs are "Ocean Soul", "Phantom of The Opera" and "Beauty of The Beast".
"Ocean Soul" will always be my favorite song of Nightwish, no matter what they release after this. The reason? Well, that song's not only special for Tuomas, but it's also for me, because it was the first song I heard of the band. I'm really sad with Tuomas' decision of never playing it live, because it's a perfect song and it probably would have become a favorite in live performances.
The next on the list is "Phantom of The Opera", a cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's original work. And I have to say that the cover, this time, is almost as good as the original. Nightwish made this opera song heavy, and it also became of their greatest hits. However, with Tarja's departure, this song will never be played live again, or maybe not until Anette gains the soprano skills needed for this extemely difficult song of the female voice.
And the last song I'm going to talk about: "Beauty of The Beast". This song was the second one to be divided in several shorter parts due to its length (the first one to be divided was "Lappi (Lapland)"). This time, the song was divided in three parts: "Long Lost Love", "One More Night to Live" and "Christabel". The total length of the entire song is 10:21, making it the second longest song in the band's history so far (the first place is for "The Poet and The Pendulum", longing for 13:54). This song is a symphonic-based song, along with the heavy and powerful guitars and the chorus guided by Tarja. The only possible result for this description is an excellent masterpiece, and this time, the description accords to the reality.
CONCLUSION: This album seems like fallen from paradise! It's close to perfection, it's beautiful and dark at the same time, and it also includes many well-creared elements, along with an interesting concept. Finally, I'll add my personal rankings for each song of the album, including the B-sides:
Bless The Child - 9.9/10
End of All Hope - 9.4/10
Dead To The World - 9.8/10
Ever Dream - 9.6/10
Slaying The Dreamer - 4.6/10
Forever Yours - 9.7/10
Ocean Soul - 10/10
Feel For You - 9.7/10
Phantom of The Opera - 10/10
Beauty of The Beast - 10/10
The Wayfarer - 9.1/10
Lagoon - 9.6/10
A lot of people knock this band for being ‘cheesy’, a very ill defined term, lets clear this up:
Take cheesy as meaning over the top, then yes this album is, so also is Wagner, so is Slayer, so is Emperor (and pretty much any other extreme metal band), in fact almost all metal is totally unsubtle. The unrestrained bombast of this music is intentional and unless you’re only into indie and post rock (and then why the fuck are you on this website?), this should not be a problem for you. The difference here is that most metal bands unleash a barrage of masculine aggression, but in Nightwish it is a powerful explosion of feminine grace and romantic grandeur which is unfamiliar, therefore off putting, to most metalheads.
Take cheesy as meaning stereotypical and unoriginal, this album is certainly not, it has none of the sped up glam rock sound mixed with dungeons and dragons lyrics of most power metal. Most people who knock this kind of music will tend to love ‘brutal foetus rape’ Death Metal or ‘grim wintersatan necrodemon’ Black Metal. As a fan of all metal true styles, loving everything of worth from Nile to Rhapsody, I am perfectly able to find the stereotypes in most metal genres, and none of them are present here
Take cheesy as meaning camp or un-masculine; this is certainly extremely feminine music. If you can’t appreciate femininity in art do not expect to like this and you can consider yourself a complete philistine. There’s no trace of Amon Amarth style masculine aggression in Nightwish, but that’s just fine, there’s plenty of aggressive manly metal bands when one needs music for the balls, but this is music for the heart. If you only want music to be ‘tough’ to go and buy a Hatebreed album and stay the fuck away from power metal, it’s not meant for people like you, it’s a lot better than that.
Onto the details of the album itself. It’s certainly not a perfect record, but manages to be far more touching and impressive than many albums that tick every box (ie Wintersun, perfect album but not as enjoyable as this). The production sounds slightly muddy though it is all entirely audible, this is something that can easily be overlooked, good production never saved a poor album (Inhuman Rampage) nor did bad production ruin a great one (In The Nightside Eclipse), the basic production actually gives the album a deeper more genuine emotional feel. Tarja’s breath control is noticeably lacking, but her slight gasps, though somewhat annoying at first, add to the emotional intensity and desperation of the music. Her unique voice is extremely powerful even though she doesn’t sing as operatically as on earlier albums (a slight disappointment). For someone who proclaimed to have never cared for the lyrics she sings, she sounds like she’s pouring her entire heart and soul into every note, it is utterly beautiful to behold. Some people will not be able to stomach such intensity, but I remind them it’s just as pathetic as knocking death metal vocals for being ‘too brutal’. Tarja’s technical ability is showcased on the rather original and unique cover of Phantom of the Opera.
The male vocals are a bit of a wild card, Marco sounds like someone from an 80s speed metal band and on paper seems totally out of place in such a romantic band, but his performance in the happiest track on the album, the escapist yet honest Dead to the World, the only track that still truly sounds like power metal., is fantastic. He only appears occasionally, if he were present anymore his voice would certainly intrude and thankfully Tarja usually sings alone.
The drumming is on a par with most of the best power metal drummers and way ahead of most symphonic metal drumming. Jukka is not quite Thomen Stauch but he puts a lot of talent and energy into an album of a genre which rarely puts any emphasis on the rythmn section. The bass, as with most power metal, is largely unnoticed, but its atmospheric crawl in the intro to Feel for You is excellent.
The guitar is yet to fall to the down tuned forgettable dullness of Once, though Nightwish were never a riffy band like Iron Maiden or something, there are some very beautiful, emotive solos such as that in Ever Dream and a couple of powerfull riffs such as in Slaying the Dreamer.
The Keyboards are definitely the star of the show, with majestic melodies and gorgeous piano sections. The orchestral touches aren’t a major element and are not mixed in particularly, but in songs such as Forever Yours the extra instruments add welcome new layers to the beauty of this album.
The song writing is utterly fantastic; there is no sense of formulaic power metal writing here at all. Nothing feels forced or used to fill space. Each song explores a different aspect of deep emotion in an equally melodic yet diverse manner, with loneliness and longing being the most common themes and they are captured perfectly in songs like Forever Yours and Ocean Soul. Love, romance and eroticism come off wonderfully in song such as Feel for You and the incredible anthem to unrequited love; Ever Dream. Hatred is explored in the atypicaly aggressive Slaying the Dreamer and fear in End of All Hope. The powerful epic Beauty of the Beast is a majestic wonder to behold. There are no filler or repeat tracks on this CD, even the bonus tracks are refreshing and new (a fast uplifting power metal song and an electronic influenced chill-out track, both of which would be out of place on the main album). In the lyrics there is a perfect mix of accepting the tragic realities of life, but also seeing the outstanding beauty it has to offer, and despite its darkness and misery there is an underlying tone of hope throughout the album. I can genuinely say Century Child has the most touching lyrics I have ever read.
In conclusion, this is melodic music straight for the heart and most narrow minded metalheads will run screaming due to its lack of aggression and musical wankery, but those with a romantic heart and an appreciation for such things will likely find this album and incredibly touching and beautiful piece of music and I thoroughly encourage you to buy it. The fantastic romantic artwork and photography accompanying Century Child helps make it too good to just download. Without doubt Tuomas Holopainen is touched by genius and this is his most heartfelt work.
The score: This is the most emotional piece of music I've ever heard, one percent only knocked off for poor production.
After being most unimpressed by Oceanborn, I decided to give Nightwish another chance. After all, I had downloaded a few other albums with Oceanborn, and surely Nightwish would get better at mixing metal and classical stuff, as they went along, right?
Instead of a few good ideas and lots of bad ideas, we get some of the most overwrought, pretensious and cheesy music ever made.A good example would be 'Dead to the World', which has some the most overwrought male vocals ever, some of the most overwrought female vocals ever, and some instrumentation and riffing which screams 'CHEESE' above anything else. Another example would be Beauty of the Beast. Now, I'm of the opinion that only drone, doom and post-rock bands should ever do songs over ten minutes. Lame-ass symphonic power metal bands should not, and this song is proof why. Oh well.
There's so many bad things about this album. The riffing, which was never the focal point of this band, is almost completely gone. With the exception of 'Slaying the Dreamer' which is surprisingly riff heavy, most of the times the guitars follow the whole 'chug along with chord root notes', in effect, playing simple retarded bass lines up an octave. The keyboards have some of the most ridiculous synths ever heard, which is a shame, as Oceanborn's symphonic stuff actually sounded like it was played by real violins, cellos etc. (It might have been, I don't know.) Generally, the keys don't add anything useful. Oh well. I guess the rythym section is pretty decent. The drums and bass are both mixed fairly quiet, but they don't get annoying and they keep the beat going, which surely isn't a bad thing, right?
Despite these shortcomings, this album wouldn't be so terrible if it wasn't for the vocals. While I don't want to say "These are the worst vocals on any metal record, ever" I will definitely say that these are the worst vocals on any mainstream metal record, ever. I would even listen to Machine Head's singer then these dudes. IT IS THAT BAD!!? To get a good impression of the male vocals, get the most cliched power metal vocals ever, make them a bit more cliched, and then add a vibrato. Proof is in Phantom of the Opera mainly, but anywhere where there's male vocals you'll see. And the opera vocals? Well, they're even worse. I can imagine a lot of people getting real angry right now and going "TARJA (that is her name right?) IS AWESOME, YOU MUST BE A HOMOSEXUAL" or something along those lines. But her voice is completely devoid of emotion, has a really small range, and her pitch control and breath control are both terrible. And she's incredibly one dimensional, as the terrible performance on Slaying the Dreamer shows. I didn't think she sounded this bad on Oceanborn.. what happened?
I don't really want to rag on Nightwish this much. I'd love to give this album 100% and say it perfectly fuses metal and classical/opera together. BUT IT LICKS BALLS. Possibly the cheesiest album ever. For dudes who want noisy classical stuff, again I would recommend Mono. Not exactly Metal, but far better.
Nightwish had already had a good amount of success as pioneers in merging the speed driven melodic power metal style of bands such as Helloween and Stratovarius with some Gothic ambiences from Tuomas’ keyboard work and Tarja’s operatic voice. The 2 albums preceding this one didn’t fully qualify as Power Metal in the traditional sense, but were quite close to the model set by previous outfits in that genre. By contrast, “Century Child” sees a bit more Symphonic elements (which were present to a lesser degree in previous releases) as well as a larger collection of ballads.
The overall flow of this album is a little bit uneven, and definitely a departure from “Wishmaster”. All of the faster tracks such as “End of all Hope” and “Dead to the World” have been loaded to the front of the album, while the middle has a lot of slower songs such as “Oceansoul” and “Forever Yours” which may not agree with fans of the last 2 releases. The opening and closing tracks are the longest in length and the most epic in structure.
The added vocal presence of Marko Hietala is also a big change and is mostly felt on duets such as the remake of “Phantom of the Opera”, “Dead to the World” and “Slaying the Dreamer”. His voice is a bit Power Metal influenced, but his approach on here also includes a good amount of harsh shouts that sometimes go a bit overboard. His presence as a bassist is also noticeable, as his approach is a departure from Sami’s tendency to bolster the whole in a support capacity and instead seeks to stand out from the rest of the instruments. The tone of the bass on here is a lot raunchier and is somewhat reminiscent of Joey Demaio’s tone, though not nearly as flashy.
The songs that most resemble previous efforts tend to be the faster ones. “End of all Hope” reminds heavily of the title track off of “Wishmaster”, utilizing a powerful choral arrangement and Tarja’s operatic strength to create an instant classic. “Bless the Child” carries a lot of brilliant vocal work as well as some well placed textural devices and some heavy guitar riffing. It is highly reminiscent of slower work off of “Wishmaster”, although the production and increased keyboard presence keeps it from being a throwback. “Beauty of the Beast” is a long song cycle that is structurally similar to “FantasMic”, though slower in tempo and more ambitious in the atmospheric department.
Other songs on here carry less remnants of past work, most of them having a lot of quasi-ballad elements. “Everdream” starts off with a light piano line and Tarja giving a nice vocal prelude, which is followed by a lot of more symphonic sections. “Slaying the Dreamer” is melodic and mid-tempo for the first few minutes then goes off into a fast series of harsh vocal sections. “Forever Yours” is slow and mostly keyboard driven; not the most riveting of songs, but charming and sorrowful. The greatest departure is the remake of “Phantom of the Opera”, which is a perfectly equal split between Tarja and Marko. Not a bad metal interpretation, but Marko’s vocal interpretation is over dramatic at times, particularly at the end.
This album hasn’t sat well with some of Nightwish’s fan base, but it is a good listen, despite lacking the consistency of the last 2 albums. Fans of Gothic, Symphonic and Power Metal will find things to like here, although speed is not one of them. The overall drive of the album is vocal and atmospheric, and as a result there is a lot less lead guitar work, and that is one of the changes here that I personally didn’t like, in addition to some of Marko’s over the top vocals.
This review's a bit of an anachronism, seeing as I bought, listen to, then rapidly disposed of this album several years ago now, but I came across Nightwishes page on here and saw how many positive reviews there were of this, and had to comment.
I bought this album after reading a rave review of it in a well known metal magazine, which I never bought since. "It's epic," it cried "It's a masterpiece!"
I looked for it in my local store, and, having found it, was slightly taken aback by the cover, which - for a supposedly well respected metal band on a large label, stunk like a turd wrapped in burnt hair. This is only the first in a litany of woes.
The production of the album is terrible - the guitars are trebly and crystalline, like they were recorded then pitchshifted an octave higher. Turinen's vocals are terrible - 'operatic' it may be, but wavering around a note for several seconds rather than actually hitting it, then rapidly moving on in an embarassing 'intense' staccato rhythm does not lead to a pleasant listening experience. The male vocals which punctuate the female warbling are frankly atrocious, sounding like someone's Dad trying to do an impression of Ronnie James Dio at a wedding. The 'symphonic' keyboards are cheap and thin - the 'trumpets' at the beginning of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk are more convincing, and ya'll just know they ain't for real.
The worst aspect of the album is the songs themselves. Characterless, tuneless, and almost entirely devoid of any semblance of subtlety or balance. They remain unconvincing throughout - note to songwriters everywhere: singing "This is the end of all hope" in an emotionless monotone while some jaunty powermetal blares out next to you is about as sincere as Bush turning up in Baghdad with a feather duster, muttering 'Anything I can do to help clean up the mess?"
'Century Child' is probably the worst album I've ever heard. Or at least I fucking hope it is. It gets three because I managed to make back more than I payed for it on ebay. This is a sonic abortion; flush it down the lavatory.
When I got this album, I was really excited to place it into my stereo. Back in the day, I heard all of their release from Angels to Wishmaster and I'm becoming a fan for the band. I was ready for one hell of a ride.
Yet again, I was disappointed when I heard it for the first time, but I grew on me. Still, there are two shitty songs that I cannot find out why the hell people enjoy them. Marco had his first appearance in the band but I don't think he is the problem in this album. I realized there is something missing in this album.
Here are my thoughts over the tracks:
The album kicks off with Nightwish's second worst song on the album, Bless The Child. Am I the only one who doesn't like this stupid song? First, it starts decent, then some old geezer starts narrating some of the lyrics. This guy must have one of the most annoying voices in music history. He sounds like someone shoveled a dick up his throat. The atmosphere sucks and the guitars sound shy in a way. The basslines are fine. It's like a six minute epic with lots of missing stuff. The rhythmic melody is boring and this disaster ends with the fucked up old geezer finishing the song with a disappointing tone.
End Of All Hope is next and it was connected from the shitter, Bless The Crap. The guitars are a bit better than the previous track, and somehow, this song reminds me of Wishmaster. Tarja's vocal performance is great and there is an amazing guitar solo in the middle.
Dead To The World is next and this is the first song that features Marco on vocals. This is my personal favorite on this album. The song begins with a small preview of the chorus, and witness the amazing keyboard skills by Toumas in the beginning. This song is exciting and the best part when Marco screams: "Heaven Queen carry me" that gives you chills down your spine.
Ever Dream is Nightwish's greatest ballad they have ever written so far. It has everything. The atmosphere is fantastic and the guitars are good here and there is a beautiful solo in the middle. This is like my second favorite on the album.
Slaying The Dreamer begins with a harsh guitar riff that I love. This is the aggressive song on the album. Tarja sounds evil in this track, and in the end, Marco finishes the track with a pissed off mood. Very evil, but great.
Forever Yours is a cool ballad. I love listening to this song whenever I want to calm myself. Tarja does a great job by giving this nice atmosphere in the background. This song is simple, but enjoyable, for once in a while.
Ladies and Gentlemen put your hands together for the shittiest song that Nightwish had ever done, Ocean Soul. It sucks big time and there is nothing emotional about it but plain crap. This is a stupid ballad that has nothing of excitement and I wonder what was the band thinking when they thought of this shitty song. Even Tarja, couldn't save this Ocean Suck. The guitars are hidden, and sometimes you think that there are no guitars. It's a wise idea for the band not to play this song live, because the entire audience would be snoring in no time. The melody is pure donkey crap and there is no guitar solo. It begins boring and it ends the same way. Very disappointing.
Feel For You is decent, but the bass is amazing here. The best part is in the middle where Tarja and Marco share their vocal lines.
The Phantom Of The Opera is fucking amazing. The musical harmony is flowing perfectly. The duet between Tarja and Marco is breath-taking. The only problem is how it ends, but other than that. It is a wonderful cover song.
Finally, Beauty Of The Beast is the album's epic. It is good but not great. Nightwish could have done better here, because they are good to ace epic songs. This epic is divided into three parts which are "Long Lost Love", "One More Day To Live", and "Christabelle." The opener part is really amazing, and the orchestral arrangements are fantastic. The part's chorus is good. The best part is the second part. It is as exciting as fuck. Tarja brings on an amazing performance that will chill your spine in the chorus. After the amazing second part, things get crappy when that fucking old geezer comes in, and spoils the entire finishing. Why the fuck did they put this guy to be the narrator? He is the most annoying person in the world. He sounds as if he is speaking with a frog in his mouth.
There you have it, my visions for all the tracks. The album isn't a complete flop, but there are some annoying shit that made me to drop it's percentage such as the fucking narrator, the guitars aren't creative enough, and the two shitty songs. Marco isn't the problem in this album, but in fact, he is the one who balanced this album, Tarja was amazing, and the keyboards are fine. Lyrically, they are nice, from time to time.
All in all, this is their weakest performance, in my opinion. The band did improve with their newest release "Once". If you are a Nightwish freak like me, then it won't be a problem to buy this record, but it is still good.
Every metal band hits a peak in its career. Sometimes it’s a sloping rise to the top, one that takes years and constant improvements over the course of several albums. Other times, it’s a steep path that happens so suddenly, the band is often forgotten as it crashes down into the valley that accompanies every peak.
Nightwish have peaked with Century Child, their 2002 opus that seems to add in a few more puzzle pieces in addition to those left by Wishmaster, and more specifically, the Dead Boy. Most of the album is a concept having to do with the Dead Boy (the liner notes even credit Sam Hardwick with the Dead Boy’s voice again), who may be the Century Child mentioned. Either way, it’s a definite follow-up to the 2000 smash hit.
The first track, “Bless The Child”, begins with a gradual rise, a swelling of synth accompanied by choral voices until guitars emerge. Sam Hardwick gives a fantastic performance, reprising his role as Dead Boy. He cryptically mentions the “Beauty Of The Beast”, which is the last track on the album, just before the music explodes.
Tarja Turunen proves once more that she is a goddess, vocally and physically (just browse the liner notes). Her voice has developed over the two years since Wishmaster, for the better. She utilizes higher range for the majority of the album, giving it a touch of commercial vocals. It really suits the music, and she doesn’t cop out on the lower octaves.
The music is constant, and has an excellent lead out, as Sam Hardwick helms the dramatic vocals again. As the song winds down to a close, his voice twists and becomes darker. It slowly becomes that of Marco Hietala, the newest member of the band replacing Sami Vänskä on bass and several other (Wilska, Ike Vil, Tony Kakko and Tuomas Holopainen) as male vocalist. The song ends with a stirring build up to…
“It is the end of all hope!” It sounds a little like Wishmaster, but “End Of All Hope” has its own charm. Tarja’s vocals for example. In the first verse, they seem a bit out of place, in a strangely pleasant way. The music switches chords at one point, which is a bit unnerving to some. I cope, however, because the keyboards really add a spark to the song. Besides, Emppu Vuorinen has a damned fine solo. Not the best track on the album but a pretty good one nonetheless.
In comparison, “Dead To The World” is a stunning piece and an automatic album highlight. The introductions, including the vocals, are pure Nightwish. And now, we get to hear Marco’s singing for the first time (unless you’ve heard his work with Sinergy, or Tarot). His voice truly rocks and suits the work with Tarja’s so well. His range is pretty impressive as well.
Following his first passage is Tarja’s, which is beautiful. Her voice just flows, as it always has. But mirroring her this time is Marco.
The chorus is utterly jaw dropping. The lyrics are grade-A quality, the harmony between Marco and Tarja is flawless and the music’s progression cannot be improved upon.
Ooh. “In the well” vocal followed by a chorus. Wham. End of song. A cigarette please.
Perhaps it’s their best ballad-type song (which alternates between soft and heavy). I’m talking about “Ever Dream”. Tuomas Holopainen’s orchestration is astounding in this one and is only rivaled by the vocals. Marco’s end-of-chorus plead is gorgeous, beautiful, everything in the way of absolute perfection. He and Tuomas accentuate one another’s abilities here… and don’t forget Tarja’s hypnotic skills. Tarja has a solo chorus as it all builds up and culminates at 3:47, when the tone is changed…
This is the pinnacle of the album, period. At no other point in the album does the music sound this beautiful. The tone is higher, and therefore gives it such a dramatic feel that I’m moved emotionally, especially as Tarja sings throughout. This is truly perfection, and another album highlight.
“Slaying The Dreamer” is for the aggressive Nightwish fans. It’s high octane, chock full of pinch chord harmonics and vibrato, so any fan of “Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean” or “Bare Grace Misery” will not be disappointed. Marco flies off the edge and nu-metals a bit, which is kind of amusing, but detracts from Tarja’s operatic vocals. No complaints though. It’s a good song, just not a favorite.
The next song is called “Forever Yours” and falls into the same category as “Sleeping Sun” as far as tempo goes. A very deliberate and meticulous song that focuses mostly on Tarja’s voice and the stunning lyrics Tuomas put together. Tin whistle solo, courtesy of Kristiina Ilmonen, punctuates the atmosphere (I picture a snowy field) just before Tuomas unleashes the strings.
This is definitely a highlight for the more melodic fans of Nightwish. I consider it to be one of the best tracks on the album.
There is a definite correlation between Oceanborn, “Dead Boy’s Poem” and the next track, “Ocean Soul”. “Dead Boy’s Poem” ends with Tarja singing “A lonely soul… an ocean soul…”, and Oceanborn is centered on the ocean. “Ocean Soul” is sort of the equivalent to “Walking In The Air”, as it’s a dark, melodic song, only its tempo is faster. A very nice mix of elements that round it off to be a truly beautiful song.
“Feel For You” starts with a very cool bassline intro that melds with a synth bit that’s catchier than a Metallica riff. The crystalline synth effect works wonders - that and the other synth effect used, which draw on your emotions. Tarja’s vocals are subdued, which gives to Marco’s passionate chorus solo, especially on the first rep, when they add on the multi-layer vocals.
Like most Nightwish tracks, “Feel For You” changes chords. Not a bad thing, but not exactly a good thing either. In any case, this song is quite good. Mellow, it's a sort of downer I suppose, as we draw closer to the end.
“Phantom Of The Opera”! Not the greatest cover, but the most creative. Marco’s vocals are the highlight of this track, and in my opinion, overshadow Tarja’s (say it ain’t so!). Certain elements of the song stand out in good ways, while others do, in not so good ways. The good: the crystalline synth, the Nightwish-esque interlude just before “In all your fantasies…”, the harmony on “And in this labyrinth…”. The bad: the harmony in “Your/My spirit…”, Tarja’s vocal display at the end and Marco’s howling.
As I said, not the best rendition, but an interesting one with its perks.
And finally, another masterpiece of Tuomas’, on the same vein as FantasMic – “Beauty Of The Beast”. This one is made up of three parts: “Long Lost Love”, “One More Night To Live” and “Christabel”. Each selection is different, the first comprised of a fantastic intro and some excellent verses that Tarja tackles alone. The second part has parts of “Bless The Child” written into it, only in variation. In a live version of the song, before Marco was a part of the group, Tony Kakko handled vocals on this track at some point.
Emppu hasn’t left. He has a decent solo halfway through the track, although it’s somewhat muted.
“One More Night To Live” is pretty much a song within itself, like any other Nightwish song. Some mellow bits and some heavier ones. After the first chorus is a speedier few verses. Tuomas pulls out all the punches, even using a synthline that reminds me of “Bloody Tears” from Castlevania.
The central rhythm is infectious for some reason. It’ll stick to you easily, sort of like the synth in “Feel For You”.
“Christabel” is a winding down of sort, and Sam Hardwick is back to finish the album off as it fades out.
Fantastic album, period. Not perfect, it does have its flaws. But it has some of Nightwish’s best work on it. Emppu could have had more presence, but then we probably wouldn’t have heard much from Marco.
I love the photos and artwork of the liner notes, as usual. I still think that every member of the band is absolutely gorgeous, and photogenic. Just look at the liner notes of this album.
The production was excellent, almost on the same level as Everygrey’s The Inner Circle, but not quite. It wasn’t shiny, uniformly perfect, and I’m glad, or else it would have sounded like …And Justice For All. Lyrically, very, very strong, something important to me. Musically… well, if you don’t know by now what I think of the music, you must have skipped the entire review.
Overall, I give this album 97, simply because it contains some of the best written pieces of music composed by Nightwish and some of the best performed pieces of music performed by Nightwish. As far as I can see, this one exceeds both Oceanborn and Wishmaster.
About the peak thing. I personally think that this has been Nightwish’s peak. More specifically, “Ever Dream”. Like “Before The Vision” was to Matt Barlow, I believe that Nightwish reached perfection on that track.
Of course, it’s been said that you can peak more than once, which I think will be true of Nightwish. They may decline a little after this album, but soon will rise to even greater heights and blow us all away. Just look at them in 2004. #1 all over Europe with Once. Nightwish have peaked and will peak again.
Judging by the cover, this would be Nightwish´s softer album. Definitely is the hardest one. But the cover by Marcus Mayer maybe is not the most appropriate. Anyway, the music is the thing that matters, and this album is good at it.
I would say this time Nightwish didn't rely much in the Power Metal elements that filled Oceanborn, and that were still there in Wishmaster. So I think it has some more gothic approach. Century Child starts with "Bless the Child", nice song, the video for this one rules. As I said, the guitars are the most heavy of Nightwish, the keyboards are more gothic and less power, there is a narrator at the beginning and the end, that speak about this "innocence philosophy" of Tuomas. Tarja starts with her sweetest voice. Next is "End of All Hope", I love the melody of the verses, and the chorus is nice, maybe similar to Wishmater, but not that spectacular. "Dead to the World" is the one that has more power elements, such as the keyboard fast riff. Marco sings for the first time here nice lines as well as Tarja´s.
Next is "Ever Dream". Well, if Wishmaster was my favorite NW song, this is definitely the second. Its the most sweetest song, it makes me shivers, and the orchestration is beautiful, and the chorus is beautiful. If Rhapsody surprised everyone with "When demons awake", this is Nightwish turn to get aggressive with "Slaying the Dreamer". Pretty heavy, gothic, doom, the lyrics is Nightwish's darkest hour, and Marco's part is almost death metal, with a strange overdubbing, that makes it more aggressive, finishing with "I TRULY HATE YOU ALL!!!!!".
Then the albums comes a little down. No, a lot down. "Forever yours", "Ocean Soul" and "Feel for you" are nothing outstanding, very boring plain Nightwish. "The Phantom of the Opera" is the song to be covered by metal bands featuring women and men singing, and NW's result is an average one.
For the last song, the epic closer, it has its good moments, some a little bit boring. Usually I like the long songs, because the bands take care that every part is excellent, but I am sorry to say that is no the case in "Beauty of the Beast". The "One more night to live" part is the best one, some parts are very nice, ("I wish... I had... One more night to live" is the kind of music parts that makes one shiver), then it features this kind of lines that Tuomas writes that make me think: hey, how is Tarja going to sing "Beware the beast but enjoy the feast he offers" , in that time, and with that melody, it doesn´t sound too harmonic, the lyrics are sort of forced, but it appeared in all NW's albums, and here too. Anyway its not that bad. The "Christabel" part is only a spoken part by the Dead Boy, who seems to be alive, and also has grown up, and lost his kid voice from the song "Dead Boy's poem", where he could make you cry (considering the lyrics, and the emotional moment). What a pity, he shouldn't have grown.
In general the lyrics are the most poetic Tuomas has written, and the fantasy themes of Wishmaster had been abandoned, to show more his deep angry feelings.
The orchestration in the album is pretty standard and uninteresting except for "Ever Dream". Its like, make a good orchestration for this, and then just follow the instrument at a far background. And in some cases it sounds almost dissonant (anti-music)
I believe this album is pretty different from Wishmaster, and the evolution change to a heavier, less power sound. Its a very good album. Not so representative of Nightwish, but one every fan should have.
This is Nightwish's 4th album, excluding a EP. How will it fare? Well, it is clear that Nightwish has adopted a slightly different style from their oceanborn days. Most of Tarja's strong operatic vocals are gone, replaced by a softer and more normal voice. The music here is also darker and moodier than Wishmaster, as Tuomas said himself that he was going through a lot of problems at that period of time. Well, my personal opinion is that this albums is acceptable by the extremely high standards nightwish sets, but its not their best release. Well, enough of the rambling; We've got an album to review!
Bless The Child (9.5/10)
The album starts with Bless The child, which was a very good choice. This is probably my favourite song on this album, along with The last track. The song starts with a haunting choir (Or is it multiple Tarja vocal tracks?) melody, which is pretty much present throughout the whole song. The change in tempo from 3:21 is a very good touch too.
End of All Hope (9/10)
Damn, this song is a rocker from start to finish. The chorus is catchy and this song is definitely faster paced than Bless the child. The song structure is not unlike the song wishmaster, and they're some similarities between them. Nevermind about that; this song never gets boring, and the very short solo at 2:50 kicks ass. The guitars are definitely used more here than in bless the child, which is a good thing, of course.
Dead to the world (8.5/10)
Wow, this song is a duet between Marco and Tarja. I think that Marco sings more lines than Tarja in this song! At any rate, its an excellent song. Tarja's voice fits with Marco's perfectly. The keyboard parts are great too, from the keyboard/guitar intrumental after the first chorus line and the part at 3:05 where Tarja sings accompanied only by the keyboards.
The beginning of this song is great. There's no going around that. Tarja singing the chorus with only the piano as backup can create shivers. Other than that, this entire vocal melody kicks ass. The chorus, like so many power metal song choruses, is going to be stuck in my head. The interlude at 2:43, where Tarja sings "Your beauty cascaded on me...." Is by far the greatest part of this song.
Slaying the dreamer (7/10)
Whoa. The guitars are actually Heavy in this one. Who would have thought of that? Well, Tarja has adopted a more emotional voice in this song that is very unlike their other compositions. This song is certainly very emotional, but i don't really like the change, music wise. The part i don't like most about this song is that I can't hear much keyboards at all, and i'm a sissy for keyboards, so...
Forever yours (6/10)
I'm sorry, but I'm disappointed by this ballad. Nightwish usually does spectacular ballads (Listen to "sleeping sun" or "Away"), but this one is not very inspired. Well, its still better than a lot of other power metal ballads out there.
Tuomas himself said they will never play this song live because its too personal. I keep comparing this song to Dead boys poem for no reason at all. Maybe its the fact that their both very personal songs to Tuomas. It begins with the keyboards, and the vocals come in later. Not much to say here. Everything about this song is average for a nightwish song.
Feel For you (9/10)
I actually like this song, which is strange because all my friends hate it. Well, they have their opinion and i have mine. This song begins with a few bass notes, and the keyboards (Or is it an orchestra?) come in later. Tarja's voice in this song is soft and haunting, which is why the chorus kicks ass. Out of nowhere, Bam, you get Marco's louder singing, which contrasts with Tarja's voice. The bass is more present in this song than other songs too. I wonder why.
The phantom of the opera (8/10)
A cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's song, and a pretty good choice. Tarja gets to show off her voice in this one, and Marco gets to act menacing. Too bad he overdoes it, and ends up sounding like a madman instead. Other than that, its a good cover.
The beauty of the beast (9.5/10)
The longest song in nightwish history so far, stretching over 10 minutes, is The beauty of the beast. This song is cut into 3 parts which fit together like pieces in a puzzle. I wish they wouldn't split a long song up though. It makes the whole song sound like 3 seperate pieces, and thats the only reason why is didn't give this song a perfect ten, because its a great song. The part which stands out the most is at the 5:33 point. The verse which is sung is done very well, with the choir supporting Tarja. The lyrics in the last part of the song are actually read out, with Tarja, the choir and everything doing a splendid background melody, which repeats until the song fades.
In conclusion, Century child is a good album and worthy of purchase, but it is not as good as some of their earlier albums. Hopefully, the next album will rock.
Nightwish is an incredibly underrated group, and proof of this can be found in Century Child. Now I'll admit, I was not a big fan of them when I first heard some of their songs, but Century Child won me over.
Starting out, I was not a big fan of female operatic vocals, but this album shows how well they can be used in a metal setting. This album sounds like a very good power metal with a symphony and a female opera vocalist incorporated into the mix, and it is done very well. But one problem of this album is that the female operatic vocals are pushed a little to the back and in its place is a heavier guitar mix on the album - not necessarily a good thing if Tarja Turunen's vocals are the main drawing factor of the group. The male vocalist is not a good vocalist, and his voice does little to add to the aggressiveness to the heavier songs, especially songs like "Slaying The Dreamer" and "Feel For You". Had his voice been better trained and more aggressive, it might not take away from the heaviness of those songs. But those songs are still very good to bang your head to, seeing how the guitar riffing is quite heavy, and the rhythm section packs enough punch to satisfy even the most curious fan who is picking up this album for the first time.
Highlights include "Bless The Child", which has some nice symphony work accompanying it, "Dead To The World", which features hallowed operatic Tarja Turunen vocals, "Forever Yours", which is a slower, mellower tune, but has a very nice flute around the middle of the song, and "Ocean Soul", which has a very power/thrash-based driven rhythm to it. The good on this album definitely outweighs the bad, as these songs make for a unique listening experience like no other. On these songs, Tarja's voice gives Nightwish a heavy advantage over other female-fronted heavy metal bands, and other symphonic metal bands as well. The driving power metal based rhythms, particularly with the guitar sound of this album, makes this album a definite treat to listen to as well.
Did I mention that I had a hard time listening to bands with a heavy leaning toward classical and opera music? Well, after sitting down to listen to Century Child, I am won over. I'm a believer. This album is highly recommended to any power metal fan, and I must say, get ready for the ride of a lifetime!
Nightwish is a great band that lays a lot of focus on vocals and keyboards, which gives it an operatic/symphonic feel, backed with metal guitar, bass, and drums. The vocals are performed by the amazing Tarja Turunen. She has a great, classicly trained voice, not to mention she's pretty damn hot. On keyboards we have Tuomas, and like Dimmu Borgir and Rhapsody, Nightwish gains great atmosphere and depth with the use of keyboards. Holopainen started the band, although most fans put more focus on Tarja.
Marco Hietala is a legend; an amazing bassist as well as an extraordinary vocalist. His backing vocals on this CD have been shunned by the "true" Nightwish fans, who don't know squat about singing since Marco and Tarja compliment each other greatly; Marco's aggresive, golden throat and Tarja with her melodic opera singing. The rest of the lineup is filled out by Emppu Vuorinen (guitar) and Jukka Nevalainen (drums).
"Bless the Child" starts the album. It starts off a bit slow with multiple Tarja vocals harmonizing in the background. The keyboard starts building up, and the guitar, drums and bass join in. The spoken bit isn't needed in my eyes, but after it the song explodes. The whole song is great; symphonic, heavy, and filled out with Tarjas great vocals.
"End of All Hope" is the second song on the album. Tarja has a great performance in this song, especially in the chorus. Very opera-sounding, as Nightwish fans have come accustomed to. The bridge between the verse and first chorus is a great instrumental. The guitar solo, the short and very easy to play, serves it's purpose well, featuring some great duels.
The third song is "Dead to the World," which starts with Tarja and Marco harmonizing. Amazing! They are both excellent singers, and compliment each other greatly. This is one of my favorites, as not only does it put Tarjas vocals in the spotlight, but Marcos as well. The keyboards are great; they always are.
The next song is "Ever Dream." It starts soft, but then goes into a instrumental section that reminds me a bit of the Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers) theme you hear in the commercials. The chorus is catchy, as usual. Marco ends it with rather good vocals, I'd like to add. The guitar solo in this one is actually semi-long for a change. The playing isn't something Yngwie couldn't do with his teeth, but it sounds good.
"Slaying the Dreamer" is a more aggressive track. Right from the top it's obvious it's going to be brutal. A highlight of this one is Marco's pissed off vocals toward the end that, upon ending, summon in Tarjas slow ascent.
I'm getting rather lazy, so just go by those first 5 songs. I like the whole album, and I suggest you check it out if you can get past the fact that there are female vocals. (I can't understand why this is so challenging to some people.)
Metal or death!!!
The latest release from the gigantic Finnish power metal band Nightwish, "Century Child", suffers from the feared disease commonly known as the "Ozzmosis"-syndrome. This infests the bandmembers during songwriting sessions, decaying their minds and forcing them to subconsciously make it so that half of the album consists entirely of ballads. This bacteria, this virus, has managed to make albums with great potential turn into much weaker releases than they could have been. And this, my friends, is no exception.
The ballads found on the album are "Ever Dream", "Forever Yours", "Ocean Soul" and "Feel For You". And also one part of the ten-minute epic "Beauty of the Beast" (it is divided into three parts) is as well a ballad. So, almost half of the album consists of ballads.
Fortunately, this is Nightwish we're talking about, and in most cases they know how to write a good ballad. For starters, we have "Ever Dream", which has some beautiful vocal melodies, powerful keyboard melodies and some actual riffage.
However, "Forever Yours", "Ocean Soul" and "Feel For You" are all pretty damn forgettable and unnecessary. There should not be this many ballads on an album, ever. It's just so sad. Because if we take a look at the other material, we can prepare to get our asses kicked pretty heavily every once in a while..
I believe we all know the trademark sound of Nightwish- A solid base of harmonic guitar riffs, pounding heavy drumwork, majestic orchestrations and powerful keyboards, epic atmospheres and on top of it all Tarja Turunen's opera voice, which among most listeners is a love-or-hate thing. Personally, I'm in between, but it works for the most part.
However, they have one quite evident change in their sound on this record- the riffs. When you least expect it, they can for a few seconds tune down all the keyboards to completely put to focus this extremely heavy riff, something that at times works pretty well ("Bless The Child", "Dead To The World" for example) but often feels out of place and a bit awkward ("Slaying The Dreamer" and "Forever Yours" come to mind). Personally, I think it adds some spice to the album and is an interesting idea, even though it is not always used very tastefully- however, I prefer their "Wishmaster" style.
They also let keyboardist Tumoas Holopainen (at least I think it's him) do vocals on some parts, and he's a really great singer. Especially on "Dead To The World", where he really makes the song what it is. Same with their version of "The Phantom Of The Opera".
And how about the actual songs? Well, like I told you, nearly half of the album consists entirely of ballads, most of which pretty much suck. However, the rest of the songs are pretty good. "Bless The Child" is a midpaced atmospheric tune which starts and ends with some pretty cool narration and in between we have a midpaced song with very powerful keyboard melodies, strong vocal lines and some nicely done heavy riffage. "End of all Hope" and "Dead To The World" are two fast-paced tunes with the vocals standing out as unusually good for this band. Very powerful songs, and definitely among their greater material.
"Slaying The Dreamer" is a pretty decent tune as well, but some of the vocals just don't seem to work, and the heavy main riff works good in the beginning it's later return just doesn't make sense. And neither does that heavy riff kicking in at 2:30 or something. But aside from this, the song works pretty good.
We also have the amazing cover of the opera classic, "The Phantom of the Opera", which absolutely slays, actually. The vocal alternating between Tarja and Tuomas bring the song to unbelievable heights, and the passion displayed during the chorus when they both sing together is just huge.
Finally we have the epic "Beauty of the Beast". I imagine Nightwish would have some problem writing an epic on ten minutes, as the atmosphere on their "normal" songs is already about as epic as it gets.
To write a long epic in three parts would prove to be a challenge, as there is a great risk that it just ends up looking like three regular Nightwish songs put together. And unfortunately, this is just what happened.
There is one more light point on here, and that is the production. Despite the huge orchestrations, keyboard effects, monstrous riffs and whatnot, every instrument is very audible. The bass is put to much focus and is used very, very well too.
The sound is crystal clear and atmospheric, just like it should be with this band.
But unfortunately, this does not redeem the album. "Century Child" does disappoint. If they'd just sat down and written some more of that good shit in the vein of the first three tracks on here, this could've been so much better. No, if you want to get into Nightwish, try "Wishmaster" instead.
As billions of albums before it have done, century Child starts out with some ass-kicking motherfuckers, then gradually declines into a boring morass of mediocrity to just plain lousiness. But there are some awesome Nightwish songs on here.
The sound is essentially the same as in other Nightwish albums. The guitars are noticeably heavier and the riffage is stronger even when they play backup. Tarja's vocals aren't quite as loud and all-encompassing, but they are still beautiful. The bass is solid, even a bit overpowering at times. The drums are very well-played and are never overbearing. Otherwise, it's really the standard Nightwish sound. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is some sort of quasi-concept album, as there seems to be a generally storyline revolving around something vaguely Christian (Bless the child? What child?). That may explain why the album doesn't reach up to Nightwish's normally very high standards.
Of course, as I said, the album starts out great. Bless the Child is a great opening epic with excellent vocal work. The real gem on the album, however, is the second song, End of All Hope, which is a really powerful thriller song with excellent vocal work, riffage, solos (including a short bass ditty), and a fantastic headbanging rhythm. The third song, Dead to the World, starts out with a little chorus line and then a REALLY FAST keyboard solo with some serious power chords as backup. The vocals are decent, but Tuomas kind of comes off as a poor man's Kotipelto. In general, though, this is a very cool song.
From here on the album goes downhill. Ever Dream is decent, with a nice opening and some decent riffage, but it's nothing extraordinary. Slaying the dreamer is cool and has some excellent riffage--it almost seems like Ever Dream was just a little flub. But no, the next song is the unequivocally boring Forever Yours, which is a slow ballad but isn't nearly as beautiful as Swanheart, leaving it sounding rather empty. Ocean Soul starts out sounding like it's going to go somewhere, but it's just a false alarm: the song never actually takes off, so we're stuck on the launching pad the entire time. Feel for You starts out with a bass solo (bass ditties are fine; bass solos are not), and then regresses into a fairly boring flub with no foreward movement (especially in comparison to End of All Hope). The Phantom of the Opera is decent, but it's really nothing special, and the combination of Tuomo and Tarja's vocals just doesn't quite pull it off. Beauty of the Beast is a really long epic that, put bluntly, fails to own anything. Not for lack of effort--there are some promising riffs in here, but the song just ends up formless and uninspired.
Nightwish fans will want to get this for the first three songs (and song number 5), but everybody else should stick with Oceanborn and Wishmaster.
Nightwish, one of my favorite metal bands. This CD is simply amazing, with the exception of the mediocre vocals given by Marco (hence the 90). I agree for the most part with the other two reviewers before me, except that, Nightwish was previously in danger of something almost all highly original bands are... Stagnation. I was fearing this greatly until i heard this album. Nightwish has hit a new high with this musical centerpiece to the melodic metal table. They have pioneered once unpioneerable terrain in Metal today. Whereas once they were the operatic Power Metal band we came to love, they are now an immovable machine of originality and driving emotion (to quote an earlier reviewer). This new release has shown that nightwsh can be more than just an "original" band, but also a vastly innovative, and complex band.
The thematic elements on this album are simply superb. Let us look at the apocalyptic sounding, obligatory "end of the world sounding", operatic song "End of all Hope". This song drives itself forward with a heavy riff accompanied by incendiary vocals from Tarja, which give off the jokhulhapps of sound which berates us with utter bliss. Also, "OceanSoul" an envigoratingly melodic song on this album, has a sweeping feel to it as it goes into the chorus. Reminiscent of Xandria's "Casablanca" in some parts, this song is one of the reasons this album pushes ahead of most generic acts and takes its rightful throne among modern metal's driving forces.
All songs on this album are utter perfection in audial alchemy. Nightwish has truly transcended metal as we know it. Such also is evident in the Phantom of the Opera remake. As much as i hate Marco's vocals, this song instills in us a haunting image. Marco's imperfect, highly flawed voice wailing to Tarja's perfect, flawless, siren's call is indeed a fitting contrast, as it causes sensory overload as it goes into it's main section, where the voices come together in chorus. Mind boggling how this band is so damn good. And how can we forget "Dead to the World"? Marco's voice on this song is the only song he does i will give him credit that he is due. The feeling of this song i first got was "eh, they are trying to be generic power metal" until i heard Tarja's flowing shrieks, and then witnessed them combine with Marco's vocals. I almost lost control of myself and i could feel blood rushing down south from up north.
Such a great album, only punctuated with Marco's mediocre vocals. Still, this album is not the greatest of Nightwish's catalogue (see Wishmaster), but is certainly among the top albums (IMO) of all time.
I have been in debate over Nightwish's new album Century Child. I have been a fan of them for about two years now. I own all of their cds(except for the new one). I love their mixture of Operatic vocals and intenese metal, and a dash of synths. It works well and they have become one of my favorite bands. On Nightwish's new album, their fourth release(excluding the 2001 ep over the hills and far away), I was in for something different when I downloaded the songs from it. Its still defineably Nightwish, Tarja's vocals are still recongnized and origonals. But the bands latest album is heading in a new direction, even borderlining on death metal with the fast paced track end of all hope. This track came as a huge surprise to me, although I did enjoy it, Nightwish is one of the farthest musical genres away from death metal. They used an additional vocalist on End of all hope for the death metal vocals. Another track which caught my attention was Slaying the Dreamer. Nightwishes music has been more on the technical operatic side rather than emotionally charged metal. Such is not the case on Slaying the dreamer, the listener can feel the emotion flowing from this song. This track also digresses from traditional Nightwish with grundgier guitars and a more heavy metal sound. Once again I still like the song.
Perhaps the biggest change in this album as to the rest of Nightwish's albums is the change in Tarja's vocals(aside from the male vocalist). Tarja has focused on operatic vocals on Nightwish's first three full length releases(Angels Fall First, OceanBorn, Wishmaster, respectivly). For Century Child Tarja has seemed to calmed down her vocals to I dare say a more "pop" style, for lack of a better word. She still has opera workings in her vocals, but they seem to sounds more like Kristna's vocals from Lacuna Coil. Its more of a toned down vocals than traditional(as if there is anything traditional in Nightwishes music) vocals. If I must make a stand on my opinion on this new album, I like it. I think its a good experiment on the bands part, but I wish to leave it as that, I like how Nightwish was on their first three albums and I wish for them to continue that way. I do enjoy Century Child and I am glad it was released. I think it was necessary for the band to show what they were capable of, but I think they had the formula right they way they were doing things. This is a welcomed experiment, one that will be enjoyed, for the next album, I wish for them to keep pumping out the good old stuff.