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There was a time when I was a big fan of this band. Yes indeed, back in my late elementary school years, Nightwish was the real deal for me, as they actually helped me get into metal along with Iron Maiden. Back then, Nightwish wasn't that popular. Of course, a lot of people have heard of them at that time, but they weren't that much of a conversation topic as they are today (they still haven't released Century Child and Once, so most of their international mainstream hits didn't exist). Basically, the way I heard of them is via the compilation a friend burned for me, so after I gave that CD a fair amount of listens, I proceeded to get the rest of their work. Needless to say, 'Oceanborn' quickly became one of my favorite albums of all time. Now, after many years have passed, I almost forgot about Nightwish at all. They simply weren't satisfying enough anymore compared to the other bands I started listening to, but only recently, I decided to check out one of my formerly favorite albums of all time, mostly because I wanted to recall why I liked it so much, and so, after arranging my playlist in Winamp, I finally hit the play button.
So, why I considered this one of my all time favorites is beyond my grasp, as this was utter and absolute garbage compared to how I felt about it the first time I listened to it. I mean come on. This album is flooded with unnecessary cacophonia, mostly consisting of fake orchestrations, random flutes that don't belong there, cheesy and cringe-inducing keyboards which flood the guitar completely, and boring riffs that simply go nowhere. Honestly, I think I can count the amount of riffs this album has on a single hand. Most of the time, it's just a generic speed metal riff drowned with keyboards that's playing all the melodies. There is no guitar craftsmanship here, but what did you expect, Nightwish only has one guitar anyways. I mean, the songs in heavy metal don't have to be anything especially complex, but if I am listening to metal, then I want to hear some fucking guitars. I want riffs and solos, and memorable ones at that. But in Nightwish lineup, there is just one guitar. I guess they decided they don't need the lead and rhythm guitars, and instead they proceeded to get lead and rhythm keyboards, lead and rhythm orchestrations etc. Honestly, just listen to the first 20 seconds of 'Stargazers', or 'Gethesemane' or 'The Riddler' , and tell me that's how metal is supposed to sound. Every single song suffers from the same incurable disease, too much keyboards, fake orchestrations (Tuomas is the only member dedicated to those, so thinking that this is anything near authentic is just ridiculous). 'Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean' is another insult to the ear. Ironically, this used to be one of my favorite Nightwish songs, and now I just bursted into laughter during certain parts, especially when Tarja tries to be all mean and evil. Also, the amount of ballads is just beyond belief, I mean, as far as I can remember, this album only has 2 (3 including 'Sleeping Sun'), but even that is too much. I am a general fan of ballads, and I think I would rate an album full of wonderfully crafted ballads pretty high, but 'Swanheart' and 'Walking In The Air' simply suck so much that I'm desperately searching for the skip button during these. You call Iced Earth masters of cheesy and unnecessary ballads? At least most of them are quite good songs, this is just a fucking disaster, as 'I Died For You' beats 'Swanheart' to the point.
Now, this album does have some redeeming points. I mean, yes, it all suffers from above mentioned syndrome, but there are a few things here that work very well for me. 'Sacrament of Wilderness' is a pretty solid song, and has a brilliant fast chorus. 'The Pharaoh Sails To Orion' is simply epic. That's all I have to say. Fuck all their later overlong songs, this is epicness incarnate. This and 'Fantasmic' are easily the best songs they ever wrote. Of course, we mustn't forget the great Tapio Wilska from Finntroll making guest appearance here in a duet with Tarja, and doing marvelous job at it. And yes, I don't know why, but I always liked 'Sleeping Sun' quite a bit. Of course, the solo section is totally fucked up, as this type of song is perfect for long, classically composed solos filled with emotion, but since they are the composers, not myself, I am allowed to rate them appropriately. Yes, it is a ballad, but it's a ballad that I like, and blame me if you want, but everyone has it's weak spots. 'Moondance' is a nice folkish instrumental where nothing sounds out of place (perhaps because Tuomas decided to pull his act together and not throw everything into the song at once), and has a nice shout-along ending.
So what we have here is a totally overrated album by a totally overrated band. As much as I did like them in the past, I have come to a conclusion that there are a lot of more talented and praise-deserving bands than Nightwish. They are ideal for kids just getting into metal, but for a listener with any metal experience, this is just nerve grating. But, of course, if you like that amount of sugar coat and flowers in your generic power metal (with one guitar playing 3 different riffs on entire album), then this may be an album for you. But as for me, what worked 7 years ago isn't going to work now, as this is just pure bollocks to me now.
Best moments: choruses of 'Sarcament of Wilderness' and 'The Pharaoh Sails To Orion', the ending of 'Moondance'.