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A shaky start - 70%

BlackMetal213, March 25th, 2016

Nightwish is one of the few bands with a female vocalist I enjoy. I first heard their album "Once" back in 2009 and although I don't listen to this band too often, I do occasionally throw them on for some nostalgia and remembrance of a simpler time when I was young and didn't have to care about shit, as cliche and stupid as that may sound. "Angels Fall First" was not an album I listened to right off the bat. Instead, it was more like "Once", then I checked out "Century Child" and their first album with Anette Olzon, "Dark Passion Play". In fact, it wasn't until around 2011 when I finally listened to this album. Being their first album, it's not exactly uncommon for the first album to be a bit lackluster. So this really was not much of a surprise. This ain't a bad album, it's just a product of inexperience and suffers from the debut album factor with a bit of an identity crisis.

Tarja Turunen is a HELL of a vocalist. She must be my favorite frontwoman in the entire metal genre. Her voice is angelic and beautiful, as she is a trained classical opera singer. Her range is extremely impressive and she has been the highlight of all the Nightwish albums she performed on. Here, her voice is still great and recognizable but seems a bit flat most of the time. This is probably an issue with the production. The production is not necessarily raw but for Nightwish, it's fairly weak and thin. Nightwish is a band that requires a strong, polished production to enhance their majestic symphonic metal sound. Her performance as a vocalist is indeed the best part of the album but even this aspect proves to suffer a bit. If the production was more crisp this album would be ten times better. And the singing is a major example of this.

The guitar riffs are fairly standard for Nightwish. Boasting a wide range of melodic guitar lines and a few beautiful solos here and there, with tracks like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Carpenter" containing some of the best riffing we have heard from Nightwish period. The acoustic melody in "Carpenter" is gorgeous. Unfortunately like the vocals, the guitars do suffer a tad bit from the production. It's a damn shame really. What's worse is the production isn't necessarily TERRIBLE, either. It's the fact that Nightwish is known for having a very clear, huge sound, and this album just doesn't have that. A lot of the beauty and wonder is taken away from an inadequate production job. The somber riff in the beginning of "Astral Romance" is extremely beautiful. It's almost doom metal in nature, and the bass guitar dances around it like a bonfire. For me, this is one of the finest moments on the album. There are also some cool moments with the flute such as in the song "Beauty and the Beast". Flute solos appear here and there and are a nice touch. Hell songs like "Tutankamen" really work the whole flute formula to its potential. Moments like this are scattered sporadically around the album but due to the production, the listener is easily distracted. Musically this album as a lot going on for it but this is a prime example how production can nearly ruin an album.

Thankfully, Nightwish would improve vastly in terms of production with "Oceanborn", although strangely, this album is musically on the same level. I'd only recommend this for the most hardcore fans of Nightwish.