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Nightwish - Angels Fall First CD (album) cover

ANGELS FALL FIRST

Nightwish

 

Progressive Metal

3.70 | 98 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SpectralHorizons
4 stars Most people who know my musical tastes know that I have very little love for many symphonic rock/metal groups. The primary reason is because they are either a rock band with tacked on symphonic elements or vice versa. However, one personal reason I dislike many of them is because they are so over the top and cheesy in their lyrics that I can't bear to listen to them. This is not with all of them though. I enjoy bands like Dragonforce with their over the top sound and fantasy lyrics, but that is because the band does not take themselves seriously. Many within the genre do though.

Nightwish was one of those bands. The keyboards were far over the top and if you took them away, the band would sound like a third-rate heavy metal band. The lyrics eventually became so cheesy that it was difficult to listen to them, save for a rare instrumental. However, before all of that came was a simple yet mostly forgotten album called Angels Fall First.

While Nightwish would soon become a parody of the entire symphonic metal genre, this album hearkens back to the time where they were not afraid to use an acoustic guitar. Where they lyrics actually had some heart in them rather than an over the top Velveta factory meant to be taken seriously. Where they were not afraid to sing in their own native language. While these elements would quickly disappear as the band began to grow, these elements are what make this album a gem.

The album opens with Elvenpath, which is filled with melodic symphonic and guitar arrangements. Sure the lyrics are a bit cheesy, but what do you expect from the songs title? One of the most striking elements is Tarja's voice, which sounds highly operatic. Her voice would be the only thing that would separate Nightwish's music from its contemporaries. Once she left, Nightwish would simply become a generic symphonic metal band.

The album hits hard with the next piece, Beauty and the Beast, which is based off of the Disney film of the same name. Featuring one of the genre's most powerful openings, the song features Tarja and Tuomas (the keyboardist) alternating the vocal passages as actors would on the stage. The Carpenter starts off with a heavy yet simple opening before becoming a folk rock piece. Astral Romance is one of those rare songs where the music gives the feeling of what the title is trying to portray. A rerecorded version was featured on an EP, but the original has a mysterious feeling that cannot be touched.

Angels Fall First is a truly unusual piece in the band's catalogue. It is the last remaining piece of the first phase of Nightwish, where they were simply an acoustic and keyboard band. The song is absolutely beautiful and poetic, but near the end of the song, it becomes very sinister and foreboding. One of the best songs in the genre but unfortunately, very few in the genre have the desire to do a song like this.

Tutankhamen is a piece with many obvious Arabian influences in it's sound. Nymphomaniac Fantastia is a rather odd piece. Musically, there is nothing wrong with it. The lyrics are very? strange to say the least. Perhaps if it would have been an instrumental, it would have been better. Know Why the Nightingale Sings is another wonderful little nugget of symphonic metal.

Another highlight of the album is the closing epic Lappi (Lapland). The song is structured as a mini-epic, featuring four parts. The first section, Eramaajarvi, is a folk piece sung in their native language (Finnish). The second section, Witchdrums, is a short symphonic interlude that leads into This Moment is Eternity, which sounds like a typical Nightwish song, except a bit slower and softer. The piece concludes with Etiainen, another folky instrumental passage.

It's a shame that Nightwish would soon abandon the folk metal and acoustic elements in their music for typical bombastic symphonic metal. However, that makes this album a unique gem amongst the genre. Because of it's unique and progressive sound, I can't help myself listening to it every once in a while.

Easily four stars.

SpectralHorizons | 4/5 |

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