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Nightwish - Wishmaster CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.49 | 146 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Tales of sin and tragedy

If there's one thing I've always loved about the European Power metal scene it's just how over the top the bands are. While Nightwish certainly has many prog elements to them it's important to see that on many of their releases they have maintained a very power metal feel. Between the fast drums, the chugging power riffs and a screaming, Operatic vocalist this is a band who may turn many off right away simply on what they base their music on. Indeed, for those who feel that prog metal is too over the top at points they will not find much comfort in this band. However, for those of us who grew up with horns raised and heads banging, this band has provided a number of great releases with a good blend of metal and prog. But again I'll stress, if you're not a prog metal fan this won't make a believer out of you.

If I had to describe Nightwish by blending two bands together... well, I probably couldn't. They're hard to describe in their approach (although others have attempted the same thing), but take any female fronted band with a lot of emotion behind the music and slap some Euro power guitars a la Helloween over top and you've got yourself a mix. While Tarja Turunen's vocals are quite the acquired taste (very heavy accent and very operatic) they make for a formidable force while she belts out the lyrics. In terms of song structure what we're looking at is fairly basic. While the musicians themselves are quite talented they don't seem to like to deviate from the norm and so the songs are all structured fairly safely. This is good in a sense as well as bad since they do it well, but it'd be nice to see some experimentation. Coming into the end of the album we're treated by two longer tracks (6 and 8 minutes, respectively) and while even they are fairly short it's nice to see something of the sort.

A lot of the songs on this album are simple rockers, something that the prog heads may not like too much. While a lot of these songs certainly make for a good listen they really do lose their appeal after repeated listens. Songs like She Is My Sin, The Kinslayer and the title cut are all great the first couple times around but start become repetitive after numerous listens mostly thanks to a conventional structure and predictable rhythm section. Other rockers make for great tunes even years later thanks to slight deviations in the formula. If there's one thing noticeable about this album against their previous efforts is the amount of keyboards put into this one. Blistering synths leading the charge of songs like Crownless and Fantasmic make for very satisfying listens.

While many of the songs tend to stay on the safe path there's still a few others that deviate and those are the ones that really stick out. Deep Silence Complete starts with a soft section before exploding into full motion as a single that was a very odd (but great) choice by the band. A wonderfully emotive guitar on this one makes it very memorable. Dead Boy's Poem borders on being a touch depressing (well, that's to be expected reading the title) but with a mix of segments and some great work by the band this one winds up being one of the best on the album. But it's the closer that will likely get the most attention. Fantasmic opens with a very prog metal synth attack before being led into the main segment by the charging guitars. Tarja's voice comes in to take us away while the drums (*gasp*) actually become a (non predictable for the most part) driving force of the song. The tune slows down coming into the middle section but picks up again coming into the climax with some (don't say Jethro Tull... Don't say Jethro Tull) country-side-esque flutes (phew...) and reprises the beginning. Okay, so a lot of us would like to see this one go on for longer than 8 minutes, but they do a good job with the amount of time they have.

With some very high and some very moderate points this one will still appeal to fans to the Euro prog metal movement and prog metal fans alike. It's heavy as hell so if you need something to rock out to you're in good hands here, but as far as really progressive moments here there's only a select few. All in all this is a very satisfying listen worthy of a good mark. 3.5 tragedies out of 5. Great, but not essential if you're not into the style. Still recommended to those who want to check it out!

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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