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Nightwish - Oceanborn CD (album) cover

OCEANBORN

Nightwish

 

Progressive Metal

3.98 | 178 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

russellk
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I have no answer to the ongoing debate as to whether this band ought to be on this site. However, I can tell you what their music is like. NIGHTWISH produce symphonic/operatic power metal which, while being relatively simple is structure, delivers a powerful range of emotions that sees them stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries such as SONATA ARCTICA, HAMMERFALL, BLIND GUARDIAN, KAMELOT, DRAGONFORCE and RHAPSODY.

Power metal delivers the immediate impact of speed metal (classic heavy metal at a faster tempo) combined with the epic feel of an orchestra generated by layered keyboards and clean operatic vocals. To my mind NIGHTWISH is the foremost contemporary example of this sound. You may not think it progressive - I'm ambivalent myself - but it is certainly dramatic, and for me that means a great deal. Generally this sort of music is the domain of young listeners, and older music fans pat them on the head condescendingly for their poor taste. Nevertheless, I'm of the opinion that older listeners tend to sacrifice pure drama too easily in their quest for sophistication. Yes, the sentiments expressed are often unsophisticated, but one must reflect upon, for example, JON ANDERSON's naive lyricism. If we were honest, that was part of what made the late sixties and early seventies such an interesting and liberating time. Well, that and the drugs.

So what we have here is NIGHTWISH's second album, an enormous step ahead of their first. From the first song the style is apparent: TARJA TURUNEN is a trained opera singer, and her strong voice emerges from a three-dimensional wall of sound. The usual ingredients are present: metal power chords, lush keyboards, frenetic drumming, sometimes in sixteenths (but not as often as in many other groups of the genre), and melodic elements. The overall intent is one of grandeur.

That NIGHTWISH succeed where most other bands largely fail (think RHAPSODY, MANOWAR and DRAGONFORCE for the most spectacular failures) is they (mostly) succeed in keeping the cheese at bay. Their themes are epic, but they do not rely to such an extent on the cheesy sword and sorcery fantasy that drives much of the genre. They do not always succeed: 'Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean', for example, is liberally coated in cheese. As their career progressed NIGHTWISH learned to reduce and eventually eliminate these moments, instead concentrating on what they do best. That quality is evidenced on most of the other tracks, with the early tracks having a more traditional speed metal feel ('Stargazers'), and the latter tracks (such as 'Walking in the Air') reflecting a desire to create epic soundscapes.

This album, though entertaining, is a shadow of what they were to achieve later in their career. Nevertheless it gets three stars for being so influential on the genre.

russellk | 3/5 |

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