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Holds signs for the future! - 90%

Wez, October 31st, 2003

This is a great debut from this stunning and powerfully consistent band, but still probably their weakest release. This is a lot more reliant on the guitars than the keyboards, but this is in no way a hinderance, just a part of their sound they had to evolve from this energetic start. Taking a heavily influenced power metal style and fusing it with enchanting operatic vocals and a symphonic and elegant presence, this is an intriuging formula. While Wishmaster was my first album from this band, I can see how they could get to that from this. It contains no less energy than later releases, but there are a few cringe worthy parts to be found amongst all the brilliance. Tuomas, brilliant composer and lyricist (or maybe that should be poet!), not so good vocalist, though I have got a bit more used to the tracks in which he features: "Beauty And The Beast", "The Carpenter" and "Astral Romance". Tossing you squarely through moods, from the energetic opener "Elvenpath" through more subdued tracks, "The Carpenter", and a deep, beautiful ballad in "Angels Fall First", and back into the limitless energy of this band, "Tutankhamen" and "Know Why The Nightingale Sings" to the multi faceted and experimental "Lappi (Lapland)" which douses the senses in all these moods, leaving you satisfied with a well planned and executed album, with a style that Nightwish have perfected and called their own. Tarja's voice is of course what stands out amongst all of this, and so it would be shameful not to give her a worthy mention. She gives the band such a special and unique touch that really, it is not Nightwish without her, and although I feel she performs better on later albums, what she does here is more than enough to place her high on my list of top vocalists (years of study have indeed payed off). The rest of the band handle themselves with skill, and while not the most technical or complex playing, manage to create something of incredible depth and spirit. Mad props to Emppu, Tuomas and Jukka! ;)

My edition comes with an extra track, "A Return To The Sea" which is a very nice addition, that certainly fits on the album without any trouble. While not the most accessible Nightwish release, this certainly packs a punch even from first listen, and set the standard that Nightwish would raise on their next album.