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5 stars I personnally never heard such metal music of that kind before discovering this excellent LP. Oceanborn is an enchanting blend of energic and exhilarating speed-metal rythmics, bewitching keyboards, delicious soprano vocals and refined melodies. One of the most inspired and talented symphonic metal band was born
Report this review (#33366)
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Passion and the opera

"Oceanborn" was Nightwish's second album, and my first experience of their music. Even with prog, first impressions are important, and the album's intro grabs your full attention immediately. An orchestral burst is rapidly followed by the first taste of female vocalist Tarja's distinctive operatic vocals. She comes across like a Kate Bush on steroids. There's loads of sweeping keyboards, soaring metal guitars, and walls of sound. If the opening track "Stargazers" doesn't make you sit up and listen, move along quickly, there's nothing for you here. The track sums up perfectly what's on offer on the album.

"Gethsemane" has a wonderful guitar vs. flute section, which abruptly gives way to a symphonic orchestral break, before the band bursts back in with a driving yet stunningly melodic climax of power metal.

There are occasional death metal type vocals on tracks such as "Devil and the deep dark ocean", but these are kept well in check, and actually offer a very effective counterpoint with the operatics of Tarja.

Just when the album seems to be settling down into a pattern, "Passion and the opera" catches your breath with a delightful operatic vocalisation which then builds and weaves to a wonderful fading conclusion. The haunting ballad "Swanheart" follows, with a tear-jerking solo violin. The track is devoid of the pounding double beat of most of the songs. The Finnish origins of the band are more apparent here in the pronunciations, but this make the track all the more endearing. A magnificent vocal backed guitar solo on a powerful base make the track a real highlight. The piano intro to "Moondance" briefly misleads you into thinking a Renaissance track has mistakenly been added, but the pomposity of the full blast of the orchestra soon dispel the illusion. This is the only entirely instrumental track, brief and fun!

Towards the end of the album, there's a pretty faithful rendition of "Walking in the air" from "The snowman" (also covered instrumentally by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow). The track highlights the beauty of the song, with only a heavier than traditional drum beat and slight lifting of the pace giving away the band's metallic roots.

The album closes with the melancholy "Sleeping sun". The chorus of this track is truly haunting, Tarja sounds as if she's making her last dying wish before the angels carry her off in an ethereal chorus, quite wonderful.

Those who do not appreciate the symphonic metal of bands such as Rhapsody will find little to enjoy them here. The music is highly melodic with a strong metal basis. It's wonderfully original, especially in view of the unique vocals. There will be those who question the prog credentials of the band, and to some extent that is a valid debate. For that reason alone, I have resisted the urge to award the full five stars. For me however what is indisputable is the quality, originality, and excitement of the music.

Report this review (#33368)
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars Why is this band here? What a foolish question, because of a record like even "Oceanborn". It isn't true that prog metal bands only concentrate on the technics, they often combinate emotional lyrics and melodies with a complex heaviness, like a band in the kind of Dream Theater or even Nightwish shows from record to record. Nightwish aren't a pure power metal band, they integree many music styles/influences in their sound: Gothic, Symphonic, Prog, Melodic, Speed & Power Metal. As "Oceanborn" was released, it exploded in the scene like a bomb, they became furious reviews from around the globe and this doesn't came from out of nothing. There are many ignorants out there, who think they know all better, don't listen to music intensively before they speak or write and make no objective reviews, they try to throw all half-hearted in one corner. Don't believe such people, make your on decision. But now back to the music on this album. "Oceanborn" is from beginning 'til end a perfectly structured masterpiece. The powerful "Stargazers" is a strong opener with great guitars, keys and the voice of opera-goddess Tarja is just the top of the hill. "Genthsemane" is brilliant: There are the first clearly progressive parts to hear: Listen to the great piano solo, wich repeats throughout the song. The well arranged flute-part, the once more great guitar work and the beautiful chorus make this song to something outstanding in this style of music. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" is a pounding, dark & dramatic metal mini-opera. The male vocals, which should represent the Devil in the song are well outbalanced with the vocals of Tarja. Another great track! Than the hammer "Sacrement Of Wilderness" (listen to the doublebass!) takes control, the breakthrough number for the band in Europe. This is the most Melodic/Power styled song of the record (could be from Stratovarius, if not Tarja would be the singer!) but it's simply great and a pleasure listen to it. The following "Passion And The Opera" is a strong riff-monster (brilliant guitar work) with a great melodic key- line, perfectly painted from synthesizer-painter Tuomas Holopainen, who always make a Nightwish track to something special. The wonderful ballad "Swanheart" may be catchy, but it can melt the soul like a piece of butter in the sun, like the closing soundtrack to the moon-eclipse in Germany 1998 "Sleeping Sun". The symphonic instrumental "Moondance" isn't only a filler, it's far too good to be one, it is very rythmic and I must say that the title of the track is good chosen. "The Riddler" is another typical Nightwish-earworm of class A. "The Pharao Sails To Orion" sounds heavier and more complex and can be titled as most progressive track of the album, very fine and my personal favourite of "Oceanborn", even if there's no weak or average moment on the record. The next song "Walking In The Air" is another fine soul-melting ballad and the earlier mentioned "Sleeping Sun" closes the album beautifully.

No, don't waste more time reading this review, make your own mind about it and watch out for this unbelievable record, if you just got a bit interests in symphonic european metal. Their follow-ups "Wishmaster", "Century Child" and "Once" are brilliant too, but for the reason that "Oceanborn" was something surprisingly new in the scene and it got a so special passionate atmosphere, it's still my favourite album by Nightwish!

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 96 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#33370)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing album. Actually one of my favorite albums ever. Tarja's vocals, the music everything just intertwines perfectly together. Anyone who loves prog, metal, or music in general should definitely get this album. Nightwish are and will always be one of the best Metal bands around. Long Live Nightwish!

And oh yeah, Manilla eye- You're an idiot. At least listen to the album first.

Report this review (#33371)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars There are some good things here (in particular Tarja vocals) but after the first listening you will find only the same boring power metal...and honestly i wonder why this band is present in progarchives (just like Rhapsody!). Only for boring power metal fans.
Report this review (#33372)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great album. I do not see how anyone can say they are not prog metal. Tarja`s vocals are amazing, she is the best prog-metal vocalist i have ever heard male or female. Her and guest singer Wilska have excellent vocal interchanges on pharoah sail to orion and devil and the deep dark ocean. Amazing composition and good musicianship. Once again great album
Report this review (#50299)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In this album, Nightwish sounds a lot heavier than on their debut "Angels Fall First". Tarja's voice is still perfect, and this time the occasional male vocals are not done by Tuomas but by a guess vocalist.

"Stargazers" opens the album with classic power metal. "Gethsename" is the first song to show some prog influences with a mix of operatic passages and fast paced metal. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion" are two "beauty and the beast" type of songs with an angelic/devilish duet (I really like the second one, the clean dark male voice really fits well with Tarja's voice). After more fast power metal ("Sacrament Of Wilderness"), the second part of the album is simply outstanding: a beautiful ballad ("Swanheart" - really quiet first part and wonderful melodic guitar solo at the end - maybe one of my favorite songs ever), a folkish instrumental ("Moondance"), fast operatic songs ("The Riddler", "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion") and the well chosen ending track "Walking In The Air".

Rating: 86/100

Report this review (#65723)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing album. One of my favorite albums in prog music. Tarja's vocals, the music everything just combine perfectly . Anyone who loves prog, or music in general should get this album. I can't choose a track, because every piece of music here has a high level, from the slow ones 'till the powerfull ones. Tarja voice is absolut Heavenly. One of the biggest albums of the '90, and i guess in the entire prog music. The best album from them, no doubt. 5 stars without hesitation.
Report this review (#70319)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink

Nighwish is a lengend amongst recent symphonic metal bands. This is not a band with extreme virtousity guitar men, or hyper-technical drumming and however they are probably one of the most wonderful and innovative bands in recent years. And they really are!!! But why? What does this band sound like?

Well, this band, and specifically this release: "Oceanborn" has a very fine Symphonic Metal sound with hard and soft spaces, exquisite keyboard lines, subtle violin, cellos and flute arrangements, and of course the heavenly voice of operatic soprano Tarja (Personally, I can swear that listening to Tarja singing always brings my tears away). Poetry, stargazing, the moon, deep woe, and mystics are some of the topics of the very well-though lyrics written by Tuomas Halopainen who has a head full of inspiration.

Oceanborn is the second Nightwish official release; it is a homgeneous album that mixes finest symphonic elements into a heavy riffs structure with delicate arrangements and powerful vocals, all in perfect balance.

1. "Stargazares", the beginning of this album is a track that catches your attention immediately. The flute lines and the sophisticated orchestral sounds fill the first minutes of this album of beauty.

2. "Gethsemane" is a track with soaring lyrics and sweet nuaces, envolving keyboard lines and a delicious counterpoint ornamented with heavy riffs. The flute solos, the cellos at the middle of the song and the choruses of Tarja makes of this track a unique piece of art. At the end of the track a very inspired solo of Emppu closes this chapter.

3. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean". This is probably the heaviest track, it is sung in duo with Wilska who has a tough voice and fits in no better manner with Tarja's voice. This is a conceptual story about the born of a lady who gives the name to this release: Oceanborn. The powerful and breaking solos, the symphonic passages, the heavy guitar leads and keybords appear here and there thoughout changing riffs, impressionably track.

4. "Sacrament Of Wilderness". A great opening, a track based basicaly on the synthesizers' virtuosity of Tuomas. Extremly good vocals that would make anyone to cry. A guitar solo through changing rythms.

5. "Passion and The Opera" A perfect operatic track centered on good vocals and parallels symphonic passages. There are heavy riifs, choruses and a heavy prescence of bass guitar. No solos but a very synchronic way of playing.

6. "Swanheart" is the first ballad of the album. Soft track with good lyrics and excellent vocals and a great guitar solo.

7. "Moondance". This is a semi-popular track completely instrumental. A track that changes from conterpoint to softness and inspirated flute and keyboard solos in few seconds, a genial composition.

8. "The riddler" Soaring vocals following by the side of a dynamic playing. This is a delighting composition jewel with mystical lyrics and good guitar and keybords arrangements.

9. "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" is an interesting track that begins with a macabre intro and the dark voice of Wilska. Tarja appears with Tuomas along a take-breathing journey to symphonic and dark passages. This track has heavy influences from power metal.

10. "Walking in the Air" a very respectful and eloquent ballad with the quality of Tarja on vocals. The guitar solo catches is soft, delicate and very well performed.

In conclusion, listening to this release is a pleasant adventure, not only for its musical perfection but for their excellent production. There was a clear convition in the band of working for creating an unsurpassable album more mature than its predecessor and so, they achieve it: dynamic music, marvelous orchestral passages, versatility and innovation. There is no single second in this release to be wasted, this album is a masterpiece from the beginnig to the end. I am not sure if Nightwish have progressive influences but the point I am clear is that listening to NIGHTWISH is like DREAMING and having a mystical adventure.

I think that only releases full of perfection should be rated with 5-stars and that is why I give a solid 5-stars rating to "Oceanborn".

If you like symphonic metal and don't have this album, do a favor to youself: BUY IT NOW!!!

Good Progressions!!!

Report this review (#79371)
Posted Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my favorite Nightwish album. It has everything, from fast metal tracks like Stargazers, Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean, and Sacrament of Wilderness to slow ballads like Swanheart and Sleeping Sun. Plus, Moondance is one of my favorite instrumentals. All of the instrumentation is excellent, and so is Tarja's voice. Definately recommended to any fan of symphonic power metal and such.
Report this review (#88266)
Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#143439)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I bought this CD having read the multitude of glowing reviews about it and intrigued by the debate about whether Nightwish really deserve to be included on this site. I may not have much to contribute to the debate, but I can say I thoroughly enjoy the music! A joyous mixture of symphonic bomblast, folk-tinged melodies, operatic vocals, sweeping keyboards and crunch metal guitar- the whole thing is wonderfully over the top. I would recommend this as an album for anyone like me who is thinking of trying'progressive metal'. Nightwish have certainly encouraged me to sample more of the genre.
Report this review (#156273)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Tough to put into words.

The second album by Finish prog-metallers is one that has always struck a peculiar chord with me. At the time of buying it I was a pure headbanger who had only listened to Dark Side Of The Moon the night before. I obtained this album on a trip to Sweden (to instruct hockey, of all things). While there I couldn't help but notice all the banners and posters advertising this band that I'd never heard of before in North America. After a recommendation from one of the Canadian born, Finish citizens that was instructing along side me I decided to go pick up the first album I saw by them. That album would be Oceanborn.

Immediately noticeable is the band's style. Heavy Metal riffs backed by the occasional folk sound and the ever present vocals of the talented opera singer Tarja TURUNEN. While it's very easy to be thrown off by the vocals first time around, they do really grow on you. The vocals in this album are a lot less accessible than some of her work on their later albums (due to production value no doubt), but that gives them a very interesting kind of feel to them. Dark and moody, this is definitely not easily listening. Also good to note is that the album almost has a supernatural feel to it, the lyrics drawing from various inspirations and none of them being very ''down to Earth''... when is actually a very good thing! After all, what prog has had good ''Down to Earth'' lyrics?

Definitely for the heavier of tastes, the album opens up with some quick, shocking riffs on STARGAZER. This is also the first taste of the vocals on the album, and one of the standouts in terms of performance. Other heavy songs on the album can prove to be just as good. Songs like GETHSEMANE, SACRAMENT OF WILDERNESS and PASSION AND THE OPERA all providing dark, heavy music that rocks the ears.

Standouts? Nearing the end of the album THE RIDDLER is a great standout with a clear chorus (something not always evident in their music) and a great keyboard riff that make it more accessible than many of the other tracks. Prior to that, however, was the masterful instrumental MOONDANCE. It sounds just as the name suggests, floaty and whimsical to start until the guitars kick into high gear and the song goes on. A gothic dance tune, this has been a song that has always stood out to my ears. Moving into the more progressive side of things THE PHARAOH SAILS TO ORION is a dark prog track with some excellent atmospheric piano mixed into some truly grinding riffs and Turunen's vocals put into the background in favor of a grumbly death metal vocalist (for the first half, at least). Excellent soloing and some very unique melodies make this song te standout of the album.

There's also a plethora of slower songs, each with a mixed degree of effectiveness. SWANHEART is a pleasant song with a good use of flute and vocals that makes a nice addition to the album. The two ending songs are slower and also rather pleasant, but with the rest of the album being so heavy, the listener likely just wants more bloody by this point. WALKING IN THE AIR mixes some heavy elements into some more subdued melodies and SLEEPING SUN hosts a very nice chorus. Good songs that both seems almost out of place the first couple listens through but eventually catch on to the listener.

Well, at the time of writing this far I still haven't decided on a rating... time to resort to counting down. Is it an essential piece of progressive music that I would recommend to all? No, not likely, it's focus is thinner than that. Is it an excellent addition to any prog music collection...? I'd say yes, just so long as you know what you're getting in to. 3.5 stars, really. Recommended for anyone who loves a strong female vocalist or metal mixed with some prog and (a little bit of) folk elements. Others will likely not be able to get into it.

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Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This real first Nightwish album is their best (although I love Once and Century Child), with no bad tracks. I especially love The Pharaoh Sails To Orion, Stargazers, Gethsemane and Sacrament Of Wilderness, but everything's great in Oceanborn. Everything. Be sure to buy this album if you want to discover a real great progressive metal/symphonic metal album. But be sure to buy also the other Nightwish albums, they're all very good !
Report this review (#165011)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Oceanborn was the first Nightwish album I ever heard. In fact I bought it without even know exactly what they were, really, just because at the time it was so rare to have a female singer in a heavy metal band, and the then top musical magazine in Brazil (RockBrigade) rated them with a rare ten out of ten. So I was ready to risk my hard earned money in an imported release.

Nothing had got me prepared to hear what came from my stereo´s speakers when I put it on: the combination of heavy metal guitars, driving rhythm, symphonic keyboards and - above all - this lady with a magnificent operatic vocal. It was something really original and unique, so hard to label at the time that nobody could really do it. Tarja Turunen has not only a very powerful and beautiful voice, she also had a style of her own and charisma, while Tuomas Holopainen proved himself to be an outstanding songwriter/arranger. It would be unfair not to mention the other members of the band, since their chemistry is really what made Nightwish´s music so special. Those guys were on fire during the recording of this masterpiece.

Even today is hard to describe their sound, since they mix such a wide pallete of sounds (various styles of heavy metal, film scores, classical, opera, finish folk and hard rock are among their cited influences). But somehow it all worked very well. The whole album just overflows with passion and conviction: there are absolutely no fillers and even thought I like some songs songs more than others, they´re all excellent. Production is very good for the time (and if you take their limited budget in consideration, very well done). The album and the band hit it big with this CD and I should say they really deserve it, even if this was really their ´real´ album (Angels Fall First was really a demo, recorded before they even got a bass player).

If you´re new to this band, this is an excellent starting point. Actually I still think it´s their very best, at least in terms of energy and songwriting. Latter CDs would get better production, even lushier orchestrations and better performances by all involved. But this is surely my favorite. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#180132)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I have been a fan of Nightwish and just realized that I have not put my thoughts with respect to "Oceanborn" despite I have owned the album for such a long time ago. This second album is at par excellent with the band's debut album "Angels Fall First". Musically, I cannot differentiate between the two because both of them are great and deserve to be rated as a masterpiece release. I just couldn't believe that Tuomas (keyboard) and friends had maintained their musical quality from the debut album to this second one. The key attractive points of this "Oceanborn" are the high energy of the music, textured with symphonic style and the composition emphasizes melody and harmony. There is no single musician that seems dominating in this album but the sum of all musicians work generates great music.

Symphonic power metal with great harmony.

"Stargazers" (4:28) kicks off the album brilliantly through the work of keyboard that brings us to the symphonic style followed with fast speed double pedal bass drums accompanying Tarja who sings in operatic mood. The key to the music of this track is basically on the interlocking guitar work and keyboard backed by solid drumming and beautiful riffs. There are many musical breaks with wonderful mood. The keyboard solo which happens in some segments of the music using harmonized riffs with high energy is truly great.

"Gethsemane" (5:22) continues to be another attractive track, maintaining high energy in upbeat mode even though the speed is slower than the first track. The pulsating piano touches while the music flows in fast tempo makes the song sounds solid. There are flute work (even though the sound is probably produced from keyboard) augmented beautifully with orchestration produced from Tuomas keyboards. It's in a way reminds me to the music of Royal Hunt even though Nightwish music is more solid and comprehensive.

On the third track the music moves up into faster tempo with "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" (4:46). The combined operatic singing by Tarja and growling vocals makes the music sounds heavier even though it has catchy melody. The characteristics of Nightwish music with orchestrated keyboard work and catchy riffs are very obvious and have become the trademark of Nightwish. Again, the inventive keyboard work combined with guitar solo has made the music composition sounds tight especially the harmony and melody line are catchy throughout the song.

"Sacrament Of Wilderness" (4:12) has a powerful riffs at the opening and it sounds truly grandiose especially when it's followed by catchy piano work, acrobatic keyboard and guitar work followed with guitar riffs. Oh my God .. the opening part is already great and it goes on with the whole song structure. Tarja's voice sounds eloquently with the music. It produces energy, harmony and melodic notes. No wonder if some people have mentioned to me that Tarja has been THE integral whole that embeds Nightwish music. It's hard to imagine if the rest of the members let her go later.

"Passion And The Opera" (4:50) starts dynamically with guitar solo and riffs followed by the entrance of power metal music that is continued generating energy to the listeners. The guitar solo is performed in softer style while the music has varied breaks and style changes. Tarja voice sounds like bird's voice in the middle of the track throughout the end followed by great riff-based musical break.

"Swanheart" (4:44) is a mellow track which features wonderful voice of Tarja and choirs backed by nice piano and keyboard work. After the first lyrical verse there is a music interlude using violin as soloist followed by Tarja's vocal line and later drum enters in slow tempo. The main interlude is using soft guitar solo like those performed in slow rock music. It's definitely a catchy track.

"Moondance" (3:31) starts soft with melodic notes played by piano (reminds me to the legendary Kayak music) followed suddenly by a blast of music in fast tempo which then turns down into break. The break comprises the flute-like sound and moves up with heavier part which makes this song rich in styles as well as textures. The song moves beautifully with sort of traditional music sounds at the later part of the song. This is definitely an excellent and amazing track!

"The Riddler" (5:15) starts with a power metal music using the best vocal effort by Tarja in truly operatic nature. Her first verse is then followed by soft guitar solo by Emppu. The intertwining roles of keyboard and guitar throughout the song are really excellent. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is delivered in hard rock style backed by multi-layered keyboard work which generates symphonic sound.

"The Pharaoh Sails To Orion" (6:26) opens with an ambient keyboard work in dark mood followed by blast of music with low register notes vocal work in metal singing style. What makes interesting is the stream of power metal music using piano sounds as melody line on segments with no vocal line. The duet male and female vocal line makes the music sounds rich in textures and harmonies. Guitar is given a chance to deliver solo backed by pulsating keyboard work.

"Walking In The Air" (4:04) is a very nice ballad with catchy melody line. The composition lets the vocal drives the overall melody while at the background there are layers of keyboard work. The interlude guitar solo is stunning. The music moves in crescendo into heavier part with symphonic touch.

"Sleeping Sun" (5:30) concludes the album with an intro of guitar riffs. At the intro part it sounds like a straight hard rocker but when the keyboard work and vocal enters, it produces the symphonic power metal music. The keyboard performs excellent solos and fills throughout the song while the guitar provides rhythm section.

Overall, this is a masterpiece musical composition by Finnish symphonic progressive metal band. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#180905)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oceanborn may take a few good listens to realize the progressive factors. The power and gothic metal elements are far more obvious, but after several listens the music unveils quite a few complexities, including technical keyboard and quick playing, making Oceanborn a perfect fit inside progressive metal circles.

The basic structure of the album is quick-uptempo power metal, with the keyboard possibly the most prominent instrument in the mix, using lots of string tones, piano, and straightforward synth tones, often showcasing Tuomas Holopainen's rather strong musicianship, especially on tracks like "Gethsemane" and "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion". Most of the other instruments are rather standard for the genre, but Tarja Turunen is a very notable singer. She uses a rather unique operatic vocal style, while most female vocalists choose to use a far more mainstream "pop" vocal approach, never reaching the heights that Turunen is able to accomplish.

The standout tracks on Oceanborn are generally uptempo and creative, using the orchestral synth sounds to their fullest. There are tracks like "Gethsemane" where the piano and the guitar play off each other fluidly in the quick uptempo riffs, and other places in the song the drums create interesting syncopated beats, forming a completely progressive metal song. "Moondance" is a killer instrumental, with the band forming a unique composition, with both beautiful flute and piano parts leading into a sort of 'metal jig' with celtic rhythms, also fully progressive. Also one of the better compositions is "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion", with speed metal elements all through it and gliding piano flowing through it from its ominous intro to its epic conclusion. Fans should also enjoy the softer "Swanheart" and "Sleeping Sun", along with the snowman theme "Walking in Air".

The album is not without a few flaws though. Like lots of power metal albums, the songs do have a tendency to sound a same. This is especially true towards the beginning of the album, since most of the more interesting songs come at the beginning. However once the listener is midway through the album they have nothing but great music to enjoy, all of it creative. Therefore lots of standard progressive metal fans should recognize this as an excellent album to have in their collection, and the essential Nightwish album to own.

Report this review (#219465)
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Nightwish" is probably one of the very kind band who is proposing a genuine "prog" metal music.

A wonderful female vocal throughout the album, great keys, fantastic beats: these are the ingredients to this young guys band. Because, one has to understand that the music played here, isn't ftoo much or old freak (unless open minded like I tend to be). This band displays great technical skills, phenomenal performance and superb musical touch.

One is of course NOT under the conspiration of any "Purple" adequacy. Of course there are little heavy metal truly symphonic moment. Quite rare to be related, IMHHO.

Guitar work is awesome and the female performance adds a huge and positive feel to the whole. Of course, as soon as some male vocals are featured (like their on debut album), the music is just plain and no longer different from what you could expect.

Because THE utmost difference with this band, IS the vocal part (as long as Tarja is performing). "Sacrament Of Wilderness" is just another example. But to tell the truth, no extraordinary track needs to be expected. No "Highway Star" or alike of course. Just some very good pieces of music holding a bunch of incredible beat, superb musicianship; but limited grandeur; except the vocals.

No one is able to play in the same division as "Purple" of course. They are the "Barcelona" team playing in this genre. But "Nightwish" is kind of "Anderlecht", which means that they are quite good, but play in another division.

Melodic hard rock, that's what they are able to perform. Some fine guitar work during "Swanheart" which is a definite good track, but it t lacks of passion like the band I have just mentioned.

This is a fine album. It deserves three stars with no problem. But no more either. The fourth one is for the greater ones in the genre.

Report this review (#237826)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album where Nightwish found their sound.

After the raw sounding Angels Fall First, Oceanborn was the first real breath of air for Nightwish, taking their musical abillity and scepticism to the next level, where cathcy songs could be made with technique and power. This also seemed to be the album which was their most prog like.

Tuomas' lyrics also seem to be at their best, with the use of vague expressions and real poetic majesty, the thing which really atracted me to Nightwish.

1. Stargazers - Probably one of my favourite Nightwish songs. With amazing neo classical technique which would leave Yngwie Malmsteen blushing, an amazing chorus and one of Tuomas' greatest lyrical moments. Amazing.

2. Gethsemane - This, along with Wanderlust, is probabbly one of the most technical things they have ever done. An amazing vocal performance from Tarja and a great chorus. The song itself is about Jesus' death, but with a poetic take on the drudgining story.

3. Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean - Kickass riffs and amazing dramaticism. What more could you want.

4. Sacrament Of Wilderness - This song sounds like HIM (HIM are amazing though). Yea, everyone praises this song, but I don't really see the big deal about's one of Nightwish' weakest.

5. Passion & The Opera - About sex...God Tuomas really is a nymphomaniac. Great song though.

6. Swanheart - One of their most beautiful compositions. Very nice and relaxing.

7. Moondance - How could you not love this song? It's memorable, intresting and reminds me of Irish music...thats not that good, but still, it is Nightwish :).

8.The Riddler - Love the use of synths and a great chorus.

9. The Pharaoh Sails To Orion - One of Nightwish' best in my opinion. Amazing dramatic like scenes, amazing chorus, a great vocal performance from Tarja, and Emppu really displays some amazing guitar work.

CONCLUSION: This is the second time I had to do this. So it may be a bit vague. But definetly a must for Nightwish fans. It doesn't top Wishmaster, but it comes very close.

Report this review (#261142)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Oceanborn" shows a maturity and musical quality much better than the previous album, "Angels Fall First". "Stargazers" shows an evolution in the corner of "Tarja Turunen" as well as greater participation of guitarist "Emppu Vuorinen" that gave the bass to "Sami Vänskä." The leader and main songwriter of the band remains a major emphasis, "Tuomas Holopainen."

"Gethsemane" is an excellent track where all the instruments work. We have keyboard and guitar solos, vocal techniques and the other members doing their job.

"Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean" begins with a "heavy riff". There is a duento voice but this time is not "Tuomas" who sings, but "Tapio Wilska." "Jukka Nevalainen" and "Sami Vänskä" get some attention on this song. Along its almost 5 minutes, the rhythmic variations occur naturally and accurately.

While "Emppu Vuorinen" and "Sami Vänskä" set the tone of the "metal" band. The lyrical voice of "Tarja Turunen" and keyboards of "Tuomas Holopainen" create a symphonic sound. "Jukka Nevalainen" helps the junction of the parties. "Sacrament of Wilderness" well represents this idea.

"Sacrament Of Wilderness" and "Passion And The Opera" are two moments of elements "prog" on the disk, with rhythmic variations and combinations of chords between the instruments.

"Swanheart," "Walking In The Air" and "Sleeping Sun" are beautiful ballads.

"Moondance" is instrumental, and has the keyboard in the spotlight.

"The Riddler" is a reasonable song.

The biggest track on the album is also one of the best, "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion". Again all the musicians give their best and turn this song into a spectacle of sound.

Report this review (#787048)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Totally blown away! Tomorrow has been cancelled - indefinitely.

When I see the tag "Prog-Metal", I usually move on. No, I am not adverse to metal, I have some cherishes albums in my collection, something I thought I have enough of for the rest of my life. I was wrong.

I certainly don't underestimate Scandinavian creativity, I had many great works in my collection for decades. I am also aware of a degree of silliness that may also be part of any release originating from such faraway lands.

I've been sitting on a couple of albums by Nightwish for months now. You know, priorities as I have many more releases to hear for the first time. Honestly, I just wanted to "retire" this band with a clear conscience, assuming that it may only have some limited interest to me.

Right off, after the first few notes my ears flopped up as if a warhorse to the sound of the trumpet. Now, this is interesting, nothing short of unique music! Unashamedly bombastic and rightly so. I could tell that I was in for something of a very special experience.

Sure enough, it just kept getting better. To dynamic arrangements the female singer with a wholesome voice lays her cloak over much of the material. First impression is that it's some absolutely crazed opera, something I've never ever heard before, but wanting to hear more of!

To my great relief, the tune is not a one-off, but the style is maintained throughout the album (indeed, their other albums too, that I've heard since). The guitars are heavy and provide a due balance. Metal? Not really, not in my world, only heavy - and spot on.

My only gripe is about the drummer who appears to be connected to 220 volts on the bass drums. His work is rather an overkill and giving the works the tag associated with Metal. Not bad at all - if only somewhat overzealous.

Nightwish is full of powerful symphonic orchestration. great melodies, great licks, exceptional vocals - one of a kind! Highly recommended!

A delightful and unique experience deserving 5 stars. I can hardly wait to hear more of this band. One of the most pleasant surprises of recent times.

Report this review (#911950)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I first heard this album back in 2001, it was quite a new experience for me. As a longtime metal fan, as well as being fond of female vocals in general, I knew a small number of female fronted metal acts, but nothing quite like this. Nowadays there's a massive catalog of similar sounding acts, so it's borderline difficult to review this with the fresh mindset I had back then, but Oceanborn deserves to be treated in that respect because for better or worse, it was a hell of a trendsetter.

As the speediest Nightwish effort to this day, it also remains my favorite, not for being my initiation to their sound, but for simply having the best collection of tunes with little in the ways of mid-tempo middling tracks. There's a lot of fast anthemic power metal tunes alongside some gorgeous ballads, as well as a couple of bombastic epics ("Passion And The Opera", "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion"). The musicianship is sound and clearly skillful, with a suitably bombastic production that adds a good wallop of "oomph" thanks to a loud but not overbearing drum mix. "Stargazers" starts things off on a first-rate high-flying pace, and "Sleeping Sun" ends things on a sad, beautiful note.

Of course it would be ridiculous to bring up my first experience with early Nightwish without mentioning the vocals of Tarja. Female operatic vocals and metal didn't seem like something that should have gelled well, but damnit was I enthralled back then. Not only did her voice fit seamlessly with the music, they added some serious punch to the heavier tracks and an extra ethereal air to the ballads. Her delivery back then made the lyrics a bit tough to discern, but that didn't matter as the voice alone was what captured my attention.

As their best release, only "The Riddler" keeps things from being a full-fledged front-to-back pleasure, but it's not really a bad song, and quite good compared to a large portion of songs from other releases by the band.

It's kind of weird now with so many later acts out that came and went or still plug away aping their general format to remember that back then this stuff was so fresh and original. It really doesn't seem that long ago for me, but yeah...the turn of the century is long past. Oceanborn, by not going to over-the-top in trying to ape an orchestra, has actually aged a bit better than a good portion of similar sounding albums that came out a couple of years afterwards, including their own followup Wishmaster. This is pretty much a seminal work by the band and their most energetic for sure.

Report this review (#942049)
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I typically find the symphonic power metal style which Nightwish are one of the leading exemplars of to be a decidedly hit or miss affair, with Nightwish typically falling on the "miss" side of the equation. This album is the closes that they come to winning me over, which probably explains why it's their critical and commercial breakthrough. The best tracks on here tend to be the ones when the band go at it full pelt and rely on Tuomas Holopainen's keyboards to provide most of the symphonic gravitas, though a few pieces with a more orchestral touch do stand out, such as an inspired cover of the Snowman theme song Walking In the Air which gives Tarja the perfect opportunity to show just what she can do with her vocals.

Still, it all feels a bit light and insubstantial to my tastes, a bit popcorn and candyfloss next to the red meat of groups like Theatre of Tragedy or The Sins of Thy Beloved, which offer a somewhat more classically gothic take on the whole "Beauty and the Beast" lineup and rely a bit less on orchestral overkill.

Report this review (#1126860)
Posted Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars After an acoustically laden folk metal experience on the debut album NIGHTWISH decided to really go for the gusto on their second release OCEANBORN and what a triumph of musical mixing this is. They still retain some of the Finnish folk music that is intrinsically sewn into the fabric of their songwriting but on this release they really ramp up the metal and symphonic aspects of their sound. I see this as equally part neo-classical metal of the Stratovarius type married with symphonic prog a la Renaissance laced with Finnish folk music and topped off with some classical diva operatic vocals by the stunning Tarja Turunen.

This is my only NIGHTWISH album i've yet heard so I can't compare to other releases but on this one the musicians are all top notch. Tuomas Holopainen who is the main songwriter really knows how to create some interesting hooks and his keyboard talents are one of the main ingredients in holding this symphonic metal together so well. Emppu Vuorinen nails the neo-classical guitar shredding and the double-bass drumming of Jukka Nevalainen really blend well with the bass skills of Sami Vankska.

Everything works together perfectly to create an epic musical fantasy. The music is further embellished by flutes, violin, viola and cello. There is also some male vocals that appear as the voice of both the devil and pharaoh but Tarja is the star of this release with her angelic presence totally dominating the accompanying symphonic power metal music. This album goes by too fast. From the high energy opening track "Stargazers" that sets the stage for the rest of the album it promises to keep your attention to the end of the album. Only a couple of the slower tracks keep me from rating this higher. The album shines brightest when the band is delivering epic fast-paced fantasy metal like there's no tomorrow.

I didn't realize how huge this band is as far as popularity goes. They are one of the best selling Finnish acts ever and have been hugely successful worldwide. I understand this is their best release but I still need to check out more of their output because if any of it comes even close to the melodic and symphonic beauty of OCEANBORN then I am a fan indeed.

Report this review (#1152870)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #13

After being so many years in a relative (big) ignorance of what was going on in the musical scene, my discovering PA sometime ago was like entering a treasure cave; by chance alone, one of the first bright riches to entice my attention was this curiosity of a band called Nightwish.
It crosses my mind that maybe I got then a bit dazzled by the sudden discovery, but justice be made, up until this day I keep on feeling great pleasure listening to most of their music, and in particular some of it is on this record.

Global Appraisal

Nightwish sound metal and/but melodic, powerful and grandiose, but above it all hovers the soprano lyrical voice of this phenomenon by the name of Tarja; with Tuomas operatic inspired keyboards it's what most characterizes this album, and as well all in this 1st phase until Tarja left.
In my personal db I rate with max five of the tracks and the others with no less than 4, but the main reason for my 'All-Time' choice is that WOW factor which hasn't faded with time.


The above mentioned vocals and keys, surely, that make this one-of-a-kind band so appealing to me. Compositionwise have to be praised the beautiful melodies of the two outstanding ballads that close the album.

Report this review (#1490951)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Finnish metal rockers suffer not a sophomore slump. As a matter of fact, this one is better than their debut from the year before.

1. "Stargazers" (4:28) nice power metal with Tarja's operatic vocals over horrible drumming and drum sound. (8.25/10)

2. "Gethsemane" (5:22) same music as before with more keys and sparser drums. Some real Tarja highlights here. (8.75/10)

3. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" (4:46) different, more machine gun drumming than previously, more theatric with deep voiced male opening before Tarja enters--like a conversation--or battle. Not good but not laughable. (8.5/10)

4. "Sacrament Of Wilderness" (4:12) actually prog-like--with some 1980s elements--until, that is, Tarja enters. Her vocal performance alone takes this one to another level. (9/10)

5. "Passion And The Opera" (4:50) back to full metal before becoming more like a 1980s metal song with operatic vocals over the top. The best instrumental passage on the album in the middle followed by Tarja's operatic vocalise. (8.5/10)

6. "Swanheart" (4:44) a pretty folk ballad with Tarja's heartfelt vocals--in multiplicity. Now this is praiseworthy! Quite like something from a modern Lloyd-Weber rock opera. Flawless. I could listen to music like this forever. (9.75/10)

7. "Moondance" (3:31) pretty electric piano--not unlike something John Tout would play to open a Renaissance song--quickly turns into a Russian mazurka dance at breakneck speed before reining in to bucolic piano and flute for the second minute. Tarja doesn't even join in--its an instrumental! (8.75/10)

8. "The Riddler" (5:15) feels like a variation on the previoius song's melody theme, more power chords present and, of course, Tarja's power voice. A pretty standard 90s power rock song were it not for the exceptional talents of Miss Turunen. (8.5/10)

9. "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion" (6:26) Another theatric power tale with growlish male vocals to offset the female and choral responders. Much better than the "Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean". (8.75/10)

10. "Walking In The Air" (4:04) the famous cinematic song from The Snowman. Not as good as the original or many remakes I've heard, it is pretty good. (8.5/10)

11. "Sleeping Sun" (5:30) a nice song--ballad--added to the album later. (8.75/10)

Total Time: 53:08

There are frequent reminders from the keyboards of the cheap computer keyboards available in the 1990s (à la Polish band COLLAGE).

B/four stars; a very nice addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially valuable for the record of the extraordinary talents of one Tarja Turunen.

Report this review (#1546302)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Guilty pleasure #2

Before they became such an 'image' band, Nightwish delivered a very solid staple with Oceanborn. Before the fights, before the egos, before the image took over the music, Oceanborn is THE overlooked album of the last 15 years in progressive metal. When they got to Century Child, they became a money-making band, leaving some of the art and selling out more. Shame.

Oceanborn is truly well crafted: catchy and yet honest neo-classical keys (Tuomas), stellar classical singing (Tarja) and Emppu is actually shredding in many places, before becoming an almost only rhythmic player. Everything here is in it's place, not too over the top, not too commercial.

A real, potent, applied effort with a band that seemed boiling with ideas at the times. Eclipsed by Metropolis II in '98 (seems like an eternity), it's THE album that don't feel like listening to the same song over and over again, THE album with the most thoughful melodies and frankly a general feel of cohesion...not just an image.

Straight out of Castlevania, a perfect blend of fog, dusk and lightning but with taste.

Report this review (#1638067)
Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nightwish's best album

3.5 stars

"I'm listening to some super music right now"...

...said one of my best friends during my campus years. Intrigued, I immediately came to his room to check his affirmation, and... what an ear-shock! A female opera singer over a power metal song? What was this? Never heard that before! In my defence, at that time, I suppose many other people haven't either, as this was the album that really started it all...

Whereas the debut "Angels Fall First" was still hesitating in its approach and incorporated gothic touches, this second opus saws the band now fully assuming their lyrical heavy metal orientation by pushing its concept to the maximum. Both uncommon and refreshing in 1998, "Oceanborn" marries raging and energetic guitars though elaborated compositions with superb melodies, sometimes epic, sometimes melancholic, sublimed by Tarja Turunen's ethereal soprano voice. A classically trained female vocalist, bringing her talent and her 3 octaves range to this genre, was quite atypical at the time. Her crystalline interpretation literally carries the music to a whole new dimension, magic, enchanting, elegant, out of this world...

Not everything is perfect though. The disc contains some of the band's best tracks, but also less catchy passages.

The fast-paced "Stargazers" is a glorious heroic heavy metal opener that directly transport you into another place. Its dark interlude is beautiful. Completely different, the melodic mid-tempo "Gethseman" is tragic, even touching at times. However, my favorite tune is undoubtedly "Passion And The Opera". Epic and haunting, with Tarja's aerial vocalizations and a thrilling finale! The instrumental "Moondance" opens with piano and, supported by rocking guitars, possesses quite dancing folk vibes and numerous rhythm changes. A fairy tale... "The Riddler" is energetic and powerful, whereas "Walking In The Air" is a cover of "I'm Walking In The Air", from Howard Blake's 1982 film "The Snowman". NIGHTWISH's revisit is ethereal and floating...

As I said, some titles have less seduced me. The lyrical "Sacrament Of Wilderness" contains charming moments but is overall rather average. I'm not really fond of the two songs with Tapio Wilska - ex-singer of their fellow countrymen Finntroll - either. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" is raging and oppressive, but fails to really lift off. Same goes for the "Stratovarius-esque" "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion", which includes pleasant Egyptian touches though. "Swanheart" is a melancholic and gracious ballad, but a bit soapy.

Anyway, "Oceanborn" remains an influential breakthrough album, paving the way for a new genre and for future female vocalists in the metal sphere. NIGHTWISH has now definitely crafted its own identity as well as its leadership. With this impacting second opus, the Finnishs impose themselves as one of the most important formation on the nascent revival scene at the end of the 90's and will gain international notoriety. Unfortunately, the later releases won't match the same level of quality and inspiration...

One of the best power/heavy metal with female singer record, and the one to start with if you're not familiar with NIGHTWISH. Fans of progressive metal will also appreciate the numerous ambiance changes within the tracks. A journey through a fairy tale suspended world...

Report this review (#1699907)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Oceanborn' is the second studio album by symphonic metal legends Nightwish. Released in 1998, it comes just one year after their debut, but already there's a marked improvement in every aspect of the band and their music.

For starters, everything is more polished. The compositions flow a lot better and don't seem as disjointed as before. The interplay between all the musicians, in particular, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen is fantastic. Full of exciting melodies and energetic performances, the music sounds much more vibrant and alive on this release. There are also more varied influences on this album, such as 'Swanheart' with its folk influence, 'Moondance' with its exotic flavour, and a wide use of neoclassical runs used throughout. It makes for a much more refreshing album.

Then there's the production. Wow! A huge improvement! While 'Angels Fall First' always sounded raw and, in my opinion, a little flat, 'Oceanborn', again, sounds much more alive. Everything is clear and well balanced and it suits the music perfectly.

However, despite all the praise, there are still a few filler songs, and in general, a lack of that "big" sound that Nightwish would develop more over the years. But it's not really a criticism, as this is a really good release. And songs like 'The Riddler', 'Gethsemane', 'Passion and the Opera', ' Stargazers', 'Sacrament of Wilderness' and their amazing rendition of the classic 'Walking in the Air' are all great signs that this band are developing and maturing at a fast rate, and are definitely destined for bigger things.

Report this review (#2203390)
Posted Friday, May 17, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars #35 review

While Angels Fell Flat, this next album is what really got me started with this band, i even dare to say that i have some songs from this album on my phone, and i'm very selective about that. I already talked about the context on why i'm reviewing this band in my previous review, so i won't talk about that, instead, let's get righ into the music.

1.- Stargazers 9/10 As an staple from the previous album, i'm not a big fan of the overall synth sounds, but the playing here is superb and because of that this is a really refreshing and good change of form, this is the Nightwish that i started to love, that has a good sense of melodic rythms, that has greater range of emotions, that already by the first notes it imposes personality and that tries as less as posible to be monotone like their 90s contemporaries. Perfect time lenght too.

2.- Gethsemane 10/10 One of the songs that i have in my phone, although i don't listen to it as much, i really like the lyrics here and the classical piano sound wich is blended with the staple Nightwish string sounds that make for a really nice and coehesive sound that i really love, i see nothing wrong with it, contrary to the previous song, this one has a really nice and noticeable solo, while the previous song was perfect in the lenght, this one adds so much more that i can't recommend it enough, this album has been a bang so far.

3.- Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean 7/10 I already said that i listened to Nightwish because of my mother and all that, and i don't remember ever hearing this song, now its the first time that i'm listening to this album in its entirety and this song is relatively new to me. I really like the playing here, the time signatures and the bass lines, but not really fond of the voices here, i like the atmosphere but i'd rather not have the voices here for some reason. At the same time, the music doesn't really reflect what the title says. Reminds a lot of Dancing Mad from Final Fantasy VI at times, i really think that videogame music should also be considered on this site, since many of them are straight up progressive rock, and even more, some of those songs could be really good contenders to greats.

4.- Sacrament Of Wilderness 6/10 As an start i can say that i really like the synths and bass here, but that's mostly at the start, the rest starts to becoming a little generic and monotone, specially on the drums, i like the speed changes used but even then it's mostly the same song until it reaches the synth solo where the drums keep being simple and also the solo ends too early. This song fails to impress me compared to the previous ones.

5.- Passion And The Opera 7/10 Again, the nice bass at the start gets lost for the rest of the song, as always, the king are the synths here, with small parts that add protagonism to the guitars. The drums remain mostly non-special until the guitars kick in. At the solo voice part the song changes melody while the rest is mostly the same, a really nice and unique twist for the music. Still not better than the previous songs even considering this interesting new voice gimick.

6.- Swanheart 9/10 What a pretty ballad song in an overall hardcore metal package, its so beautyful that it almost makes me cry, voice, piano (harp) and synths (violin, flute), gives such an innocent and nostalgic feeling. The song gradually starts increasing in intensity so it brings the listener easier to where the album was, the guitar work here is precise the drums are a little repetitive but get the work done for the most part.

7.- Moondance 9/10 Another one of those songs that i have in my phone, i have always been fond of instrumentals as you might now and this is no exception, it has a really nice russian winter feel to it, full of wonders in the night with a reflective visual spectacle that's bound to impress anyone who gazes into it and then adventure starts again. This song changes a lot and i really like the part where the piano and guitar switch notes. The only problem i have is that it's really short, it is ok as it is but i bet that they could've made more with it and that leads to...

8.- The Riddler 6/10 This song feels like an extension of Moondance until Tuomas kicks in the Commodore 64 synths for some reason. Aside from that and the chord progression used on the synths there's not much interesting going on really, it's really repetitive until it reaches a slow part and goes back again, i feel like they tried to do something that YES has done in some songs but it doesn't work when the overall rythm isn't interesing.

9.- The Pharaoh Sails To Orion 9/10 I have it on my phone, i listen to it a lot, i play it on the piano, this song is the closest to an experience, i really like how it's interesting for almost the entirety of the song, i'm a big fan of the piano on this one but i'm not a fan of guttural singing, it's just not my cup of tea at all (sorry Dreamtheather). For some reason the part that bores me the most in this song is the flute solo, wich hopefully is over soon, i mean, the synths and piano in this song are just too strong and fun to play that it overshadows the flute solo, not only that but all the instruments do a fantastic job in this song compared to the flute.

10.- Walking In The Air 6/10 Really atmospheric, but it sadly has a sickness that i call the 90's monotone Lars drum, it's really sad really, i'd rather not have the drums at all, because the rest do a nice job on an overall repetitive song. But wait, there's more, the song it's transforming... no, it just went back again to being repetitive, it's pretty, interesting, has nice chords but it ultimately tires me.

11.- Sleeping Sun 4/10 What is happening? Why did the album become so soft? Why is it ending like this? Again, the chords used are superb, i like the voice melody but come on, the same drums as the previous song? What a boring ending. Walking in the Air 2, but even worse because the previous song undermines the need for this one.

Overall it gets 75/100, wich award this album a well deserved 4 stars, i would have liked to rank this album higher but sadly it was highly inconsistent, yet it still a must hear album.

Review updated 17-7 : Fixed some review scores because i was too harsh, and modified some text.

Report this review (#2238011)
Posted Saturday, July 13, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars  'Oceanborn' is the second studio album by Nightwish, one of my favorite. It has everything, from fast metal tracks to slow ballads. Is hard to describe their sound, since they mix such a wide pallete of sounds. The more I listen to this album, the more I realize just how much Nightwish as a whole changed by the time of Human. :II: Nature (2020). The album also full of ambition: every track wants to make an impression. It is incredibly beautiful, melodic, original, candid and innovative. Musically, it is complex, heavy and well structured. Everything, the guitars, the bass, the drums, the flutes, the strings are blended in perfectly. The lyrics are simple yet powerful. I can safely say none of the songs are bad. But there are a few which I don't find up to the level of the others. "Oceanborn" is an amazing album which transports you to a different world. . Oceanborn is a masterpiece.
Report this review (#2350230)
Posted Monday, April 13, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars Only one year after having released their debut album Angels Fall First, Nightwish made a comeback with their second full-length, Oceanborn. Apart from the addition of bassplayer Sami Vänskä, the lineup is the same as on the debut LP, with Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards, Emppu Vuorinen on bass and guitars, Jukka Nevalainen on drums and Tarja Turunen on vocals. But Oceanborn is a very different beast relative to the endearing but still raw debut album. Nightwish have now found their footing and have started to unlock the potential that they had only hinted at on the previous record.

Oceanborn has a much clearer sonic identity than Angels Fall First. While that album was suspended between folk metal, power metal and symphonic and operatic ambitions, Oceanborn embarks more decidedly the path of symphonic power metal with operatic vocals. Relative to the debut album, the folk influences are toned down considerably (they only surface on the instrumental "Moondance"). There are fewer mid-tempos and acoustic interludes and far more bombastic uptempos that are a feast of powerful guitar riffs, tight drum grooves and swirling keyboard interjections. While this may bring Nightwish's sound closer to other European power metal bands (Stratovarius, Rhapsody), the overall result is an album that feels more well-defined and more assured of its direction and identity, which is a substantial improvement over the debut.

There also signs of maturity in Tarja's vocal performance. Her melodies are better than most of what she sang on Angels Fall First and her tone and expressivity have also improved. She sounds more in control of her voice, which remains splendid. Thankfully, Tuomas Holopainen this time decided to refrain from providing a male counterpart to Tarja's vocals. His performance on Angels Fall First was terrible and he wisely decided to let all vocal duties to Tarja on this album. There are two songs ("Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion") that contain male vocals by Tapio Wilska (Finntroll). His performance is halfway between narration and singing and, oddly, it reminds me of some of the narrated parts one can find on Cradle of Filth's albums.

The album is also a step-up in terms of production value. Oceanborn's sound is smoother and more balanced than the debut album. The rough edges of that album (hyper-distorted guitar sound that dominated the keyboards; drums slightly too upfront in the mix) have been smoothened and the mix and mastering of the duo Mikko Karmila/Mika Jussila is truly excellent.

Despite the considerable signs of progress, however, it is also clear that Oceanborn is still "work in progress" for Nightwish, and that there is still ample room for further improvement. The main dissatisfaction with the album lies in the inconstant quality of its material. There are only a handful of songs where Nightwish seem to be able to fully realize their immense potential, by writing tunes where everything "clicks" and just falls into the right place. "Passion and The Opera" and the ballads "Swanheart" and "Walking in the Air" are the only three songs that I can really call masterpieces on this album. These songs have it all: great melodies, lean structures, sophisticated arrangements (that beautiful strings quartet on "Swanheart"), and fantastic performances. The rest of the album does not quite reach this level of accomplishment. "Gethsemane" gets closer, thanks to its brooding chorus, but it loses steam towards the middle before inexorably drifting towards a meandering conclusion. "Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" are meant to be ambitious "mini-epics" where Nightwish showcase their "progressive" ambitions, but they feel clunky and drag on far too long, showing that there is still work to do in the songwriting department. Other tracks, such as "Sacrament of Wilderness" and "The Riddler", are little more than inoffensive fillers that do little more than diluting the overall quality of the tracklist.

Overall, Oceanborn is an album of hits and misses where Nightwish manage to channel their immense talents into perfect compositions only in a handful of tracks. When they do, the outcome is nothing short of breathtaking. The rest of the album leaves the listener with the bittersweet taste of unfulfilled potential, while nevertheless confirming that Nightwish are a band on the rise and a force to be reckoned with in the European metal landscape.

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Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | Review Permalink

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