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Nightwish - Wishmaster CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.49 | 146 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars After the pretty smashing Oceanborn, Nightwish released Wishmaster, further cementing their place as one of the more heralded symphonic metal acts. Like its predecessor, the fist- pumping metal riffage is augmented by Tarja's operatic delivery, which at the time was still a relatively new meshing of styles, and it somehow worked. This time around, the production is a bit cleaner and the tempos a little more reserved, adding a bit of variety at the expense of propulsive 'zing', if that matters to you.

This doesn't occur all that often, but here we have an album in which I think it peaks around the halfway point, beginning with the glorious "Wanderlust". This song is like an Oceanborn-redux thing, bringing more complexity to that speedy power metal vibe. "Two For Tragedy" follows, and as a weepy ballad, it showcases Tarja's capabilities quite well. She seems to get a bit of flack from certain metal and rock circles for not being Cecilia Bartoli in a studded leather dress. Yet a good portion of these accusers probably wouldn't go near an actual Cecelia Bartoli CD in the first place, so I don't know what the hang-up is. Tarja is just a talented singer doing metal-based music, simple as that. I wouldn't rank her up there with the top vocalists in rock, but her approach was decidedly unique for its time, which I think deserves at least some respect, considering that she was certainly far from terrible from the get-go.

The title track is another clear winner, a double-bass 6/8 tempo stomper with all the vigor you could want in a galloping tune, but other tracks don't fare as well with me. As a youngster, I annoyed my parents through the thrashier styles of metal as opposed to the twisted sisters, strypers and the quiet riots of those growing-up years, thus my taste in metal skews towards the more aggressive fast stuff. A mid-paced number like the opener doesn't really do it for me, as it comes across like hair metal drenched in keyboards. It's not awful, but, as in a few of the other similar paced tunes, it's not really my thing. "Come Cover Me" is an exception though, as its catchy majestic chorus is the kind of an extra inspirational push Sylvester Stallone could've utilized in defeating opponents, whether it be concerning a jello wrestling contest or a jello eating contest. Sometimes catchiness overrides cheese.

With the clearer production and a stronger emphasis on symphonic arrangements, you can hear the limitations keyboards have to offer in terms of bringing out the most bombastic approach to music one can muster. The usage of actual orchestras in future recordings did work to their advantage, and with numerous similar acts starting to crop up everywhere, many of them I presume inspired by their Oceanborn album, Nightwish weren't about to settle into a familiar mode when they could get even more grandiose and outlandish. Wishmaster is not one of my favorites by the band, but it has some of their best gems and it's funny to remember how fresh this stuff sounded back near the time of its release, considering how saturated a style they helped create became soon afterwards.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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