Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Nightwish Oceanborn album cover
3.96 | 268 ratings | 32 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stargazers (4:28)
2. Gethsemane (5:22)
3. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean (4:46)
4. Sacrament of Wilderness (4:12)
5. Passion and the Opera (4:50)
6. Swanheart (4:44)
7. Moondance (3:31)
8. The Riddler (5:15)
9. The Pharaoh Sails to Orion (6:26)
10. Walking in the Air (4:04)
11. Sleeping Sun (5:30)

Total Time 53:08

Bonus tracks on 2015 LP edition:
12. Nightquest (4:15)
13. Sleeping Sun (live) (4:31)
14. Swanheart (live) (3:55)
15. The Pharaoh Sails to Orion (live) (6:39)

Line-up / Musicians

- Tarja Turunen / vocals
- Emppu Vuorinen / guitars
- Tuomas Holopainen / piano, synthesizers
- Sami Vänskä / bass
- Jukka Nevalainen / drums, percussion

- Esa Lehtinen / flute
- Plamen Dimov / violin
- Kaisli J. Kaivola / violin
- Markku Palola / viola
- Erkki Hirvikangas / cello
- Wilska / "Devilvoice" & "Pharaohvoice"

Releases information

ArtWork: Maria Sandell

CD Spinefarm - SP167 SP (1998)

2LP Spinefarm Records ‎- SPINE735237 (2015, Europe) w/ 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy NIGHTWISH Oceanborn Music

NIGHTWISH Oceanborn ratings distribution

(268 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

NIGHTWISH Oceanborn reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by sean
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.
Review by russellk
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.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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)

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Menswear
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.

Review by Modrigue
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...

Latest members reviews

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 g ... (read more)

Report this review (#2545302) | Posted by lukretio | Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 c ... (read more)

Report this review (#2350230) | Posted by nikitasv777 | Monday, April 13, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2238011) | Posted by FalconBleck | Saturday, July 13, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2203390) | Posted by martindavey87 | Friday, May 17, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 calle ... (read more)

Report this review (#1490951) | Posted by Quinino | Sunday, November 22, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 und ... (read more)

Report this review (#911950) | Posted by BORA | Sunday, February 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 son ... (read more)

Report this review (#787048) | Posted by Vobiscum | Friday, July 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#261142) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 progre ... (read more)

Report this review (#219465) | Posted by topofsm | Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#165011) | Posted by Zardoz | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#156273) | Posted by barp | Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars MASTERPIECE 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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#79371) | Posted by razifa | Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#65723) | Posted by zaxx | Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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. Amaz ... (read more)

Report this review (#50299) | Posted by walrus333 | Thursday, October 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#33372) | Posted by | Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 Nigh ... (read more)

Report this review (#33371) | Posted by | Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 sympho ... (read more)

Report this review (#33366) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 1, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of NIGHTWISH "Oceanborn"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.