Nightwish


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Angels Fall First (1997), 5.5/10
Oceanborn (1998), 6/10
Wishmaster (2000), 5.5/10
Century Child (2002), 5/10
Once (2004), 5/10
Dark Passion Play (2007), 5/10
Imaginaerum (2011), 5/10
Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015), 5/10
Human - II Nature. (2020), 4/10
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Finland's Nightwish, or Natuvissyset, led by keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and vocalist Tarja Turunen (a classical-trained opera singer), coined a style of folk-tinged symphonic metal (with flute and acoustic guitar) largely grounded in lush keyboard arrangements and elementary guitar riffs, halfway between Therion and Stratovarius.

They journey began with Angels Fall First (1997), that already boasts the catchy melody of Tutankhamen, the tragic bombast of Nymphomaniac Fantasia and the first multi-part folk-metal epic, Lappi, the three elements that characterize the subsequent albums.

They mostly dumped the folk elements and fully embraced bombastic orchestral arrangements on Oceanborn (1998). The thrash-metal Passion and the Opera, Jethro Tull-esque Gethsemane and the military march Stargazers are not particularly original, and the instrumental Moondance sounds like a Russian folk dance, but the frenzied prog-metal with piano and flute of The Pharaoh Sails to Orion is mildly creative and the soaring ballad Sleeping Sun boasts a stately melody.

The eight-minute prog-metal suite FantasMic is the highlight of Wishmaster (2000), that also contains facile songs like Wanderlust (a carbon copy of Gethsamane) and Wishmaster, another martial song with a catchy refrain. The ten-minute Beauty of the Beast, a male-female duet with harpsichord, is the epic of Century Child (2002), that appropriately includes a cover of Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Phantom Of The Opera: clearly, Broadway musicals exert a strong influence on this pop music disguised as heavy metal. The sound is denser thanks to the addition of bassist and second vocalist Marco Hietala and to the use of a real orchestra. but even less energetic than usual, with the guitar playing the same old riffs, and in reality songs like Bless the Child further simplify their style.

Once (2004) repeats the same format: Nemo is the solemn orchestral aria du jour, Ghost Love Score is the ten-minute suite du jour. The band seemed to fall apart after this album and Highest Hopes (2005) is a career retrospective.

The Grace Slick-sounding Anette Olzon replaced Turunen on vocals for Dark Passion Play (2007), which opens with the 14-minute The Poet and the Pendulum, a piece where they sound like a cross between a Brahms symphony and latter-day Jefferson Starship. Alas, the album overflows with pretentious filler. If the long composition was a plus on that album, the 13-minute Song of Myself is a minus on Imaginaerum (2011). Of the other songs half are dejavu (the same old guitar riffs, the same refrains) and the other half are their most melodic songs ever: the danceable Storytime even sounds like a metal version of Abba and the crescendo of Last Ride Of The Day sounds like an orchestral and operatic punk-pop singalong (and this time the operatic element comes from a real choir).

Floor Jansen was the new vocalist on Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015), that also features Troy Donockley on pipes, an album that contains the 24-minute multi-part suite The Greatest Show on Earth (14 minutes too long, it even includes spoken sections by biologist Richard Dawkins) but also the delicate ballad Our Decades in the Sun and the folk-tinged My Walden, and on the embarrassing double-disc Human - II Nature. (2020), half of which is (amateurish) instrumental neoclassical music.

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