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Nightwish are a metal band from the heart of Finland. They are currently the best selling Finnish band and also the most successful band of their genre. So far they have sold over 7 Million records. The band has very basic elements of symphonic metal where clean female or operatic vocals blending with heavy music showing influences by early gothic metal, power metal, and classical music. Since 2005, Tarja was sacked from the band through an open letter (still available to read on the site) and was replaced by current vocalist Anette Olzen.
Tarja Turunen - Singer
Emmpu Vuorinen - Guitar
Sami Vänskä - Bass
Tuomas Holopainen - Composer, keyboards and song-writing
Jukka Nevalainen Drums
Tapio Wilska - male vocals (on track 3, 7, 9)
Esa Lehtinen - flute
Plamen Dimov - violin
Kaisli Kaivola - violin
Markku Palola - viola
Erkki Hirvikangas - cello
The peril and fantasy themes may scare younger children. No foul language or sexual tones are included in the album but Passion And The Opera contains sexual themes that are not suitable for younger children.
Oceanborn is the second album from the symphonic metal band. It was released in Finland time for the Christmas season on December 7th, 1998. All of the tracks were written by Tuomas apart from Howard Blake's Walking In The Air from the animated film: The Snowman. There are a couple of editions around, I will be reviewing the standard version.
The album was a step up from their debut album, Angels Fall First. They leave the folk metal behind and created an album that stood for opera, music, fantasy and purity.
~Track List (Standard Edition)~
The opening song thuds the speakers with an orchestra sound that adds drama and fast tension. Four and a half minutes give you an opener of what to expect on the album. The power and talent in Tarja is undeniable.
The tone is much lower than the first track but it the flow remains consistent. I sense religious and poetic vibes. The lyrics cut like a knife with references to Beauty And The Beast.
"Without you the poetry within me is dead..."
3.Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean
The first track to feature Tapio's vocals. The guitars are the dominant instrument and it lets Tapio's dark and haunting voice show. The lyrics gave a description of the album cover, which I think is very beautiful and enchanting. The song shows the album is about to get darker and you're in for a thrill.
"A snowy owl above the haunted waters
Poet of ancient gods
Cries to tell the neverending story
Prophecy of becoming floods
An aura of mystery surrounds her
The lady in brightest white
Soon the incarnate shall be born
The Creator of the Night"
4.Sacrament of Wilderness
"I want to hunt with the tameless heart
I want to learn the wisdom of mountains afar
We will honor the angel in the snow
We will make the streams for our children flow"
It's a popular choice to be performed live when Tarja was still in the band. It's a very unique song with lyrics that let your imagination float everywhere.
5.Passion and the Opera
This is where Tarja shows even more passion and power in her voice. She even gets to flaunt if off a little without coming across as cocky. The lyrics are very deep and paint a scene of a prostitute in shame.
"Princess of lust
Dignity put to dust
A virginal sight
Their apple to bite
Drink from my thighs
The rain of lies
A sight so cursed
Breasts which never nursed"
"Be my heart a well of love
Flowing free so far above"
A ballad that compliments Tarja's vocals. I find it pretty hard to listen to this song without filling up. Everything that a ballad needs to be beautiful is contained and the melodies and harmonies are glistening in awesomeness.
The only track not to feature Tarja but the music is still brilliant. The chanting hois add more of folk vibes and remind me of their debut album. The second half of the album things begin to step up.
"Riddler Riddler ask me why
The birds fly free on a mackerel sky
Ask me whither goes the wind
Whence the endless tick-tick stream begins"
I really like this song because it's catchy without any rubbish thrown into the song in order for it to be catchy.
9.The Pharaoh Sails to Orion
This has recently become my favourite track from the album for the mixture of dark vocals and light vocals both with a high amount of talent that adds shivers to the song. The music works just as great. It gives me Phantom Of The Opera vibes. So beautifully freakish. The song starts with a bible verse performed by Tapio.
"Get away from me!
Take heed to thyself and see my face no more!
for in the day Thou see my face
Thou shalt die!"
- Exodus 10:28
The last part of the song is my favourite especially this part:
"Reveal your face to me and guide me though the Stygian fields
Enthrall my soul to Sepedet's beams to serve Your will!"
The song has a very gothic feel that appeals to me.
10.Walking in the Air
A very popular song that is wonderfully crafted by Nightwish. I enjoy the arrangements but I find it strange that Tarja pronounces villages as willages. A minor error, but I'm surprised it's there. It's one of my favourite covers because they added something more interesting to the song.
The album ends on a high with a ballad twice as impressive as good as Swanheart. The song also moves me as well, but it's not too depressing.
"I wish for this night time to last for a life time."
Standout tracks: Walking In The Air, Pharaoh Sails To Orion, Walking In The Air, and Swanheart.
Weaker tracks: I wouldn't describe any of the songs in the album week at all.
I've seen Oceanborn in HMV for £13 but it also includes bonus tracks and live performances. £7.49 for the amazon mp3 download.
Everything about the album is a sheer delight. As if everything the band touches turns to gold and it makes my ears smile. Everything about the album works for me. Tapio's guest vocals added darkness and fear to the songs. Tarja's vocals add an angelic feel to the song and the other musicians are just as talented. Emmpu has a great guitar solo in Walking In The Air that has a brilliant flow and consistency.
Back in 2003 I was beginning my first foray into the world of alternative music due more than anything to my recent "rebellious" decision to dress in a gothic style. Known by my family as my "Morticia phase" I soon decided I needed a style of music to suit my new look. Oceanborn by Nightwish was the first album that took my fancy as I wandered around the metal section of HMV. Though I may have grown out my gothic dress sense I, thankfully, didn't grow out of Nightwish and am still a huge fan to this day.
For those who don't know them Nightwish are a Finnish symphonic metal band formed in 1996 by the bands keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen. Oceanborn is their second studio album and is thought by fans as the record with the most power metal leanings. Though the line up has since changed to incorporate a new bassist and a new vocalist at the time Oceanborn was recorded the band was as follows;
Tuomas Holopainen- Keyboard
Tarja Turunen - Vocals
Sami Vanska - Bass
Emmpu Vuorinen - Guitars
Jukka Nevalainen - Drums
Released in 1998 on Spinefarm Records and remains one of my favourite Nightwish albums to date.
This is a suitable grandiose and powerful song for an opening track and is definitely a "full on"power metal song. The vocals are very intense and make full use of Tarja's operatic abilities. This is a great song to open the album and encapsulates the vision behind the whole record. 9/10
As you may guess from the title this song does have certain religious leanings and tells a beautiful story. The vocals are more melodious on this track and it compared with many songs on this album this is quite soft and mellow to listen to. 8/10
Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean
A very theatrical song that incorporates some very deep, fierce guest male vocals which balance well with Tarja's high soprano voice. This song feels as though it could belong in a heavy metal musical spectacular as it really has that extravagant ambience. 9/10
Sacrament of Wilderness
This is the song that I feel shows Nightwish to be leaders in their genre as the balance of power metal and opera is absolutely perfect. There are few songs you can head bang along to whilst also being astounded at the quality of the singing. 10/10
Passion And The Opera
This track is split into two sections, the first being vocal and the lyric driven and the second solely instrumental. I feel this adds another dimension to the song and demonstrates the technical abilities of the band. There is quite a dark almost menacing mood to the track. 8/10
Here we have the first of what could be considered a ballad on Oceanborn. Swanheart is an exquisite song that is mainly piano driven building up to a delightful finale. The lyrics are beautifully haunting if not a little sad. 9/10
This is the instrumental interval of the album and I find it has completely different feel to the rest of the album. It has a folk air about it whilst remaining true to its metal roots. As the rest of the album has an overall dark ambience this provides a nice lift in the middle. 8/10
The Pharaoh Sails to Orion
This is the epic song of the album which again makes use of the harsh male vocals as well as both religious and fantastical language in the lyrics. The Pharaoh Sails to Orion has a sinister quality about it not to mention some quality guitar riffs! 8/10
Walking In The Air
Nightwish's version of Howard Shore's song for the movie The Snowman is, in my opinion, even better than the original. Holopainen has given it a sense of heavy metal without taking away from the beauty and dreamlike nature of the song. I believe it is one of the best cover songs ever and the band has really done justice to an amazing piece of music. 10/10
Another ballad and one which is a fitting end to a fantastic album. This is one of my all time favourite Nightwish songs as the lyrics are so perfect and feel very relevant to me. The song builds up gradually and has a very ethereal, other worldly feeling as it describes something (a solar eclipse) of abject grace and beauty. 10/10
This is undoubtedly one of Nightwish's heaviest albums making it a must for fans of both symphonic and power metal. It combines the most poetic of lyrics with a brilliant soprano singer and fantastic metal instrumentalists to create a magnificent symphonic metal album that shows just why Nightwish were always leaders in their genre.
Nightwish. Tomas. Tarja. Equals Oceanborn. I think for most Nightwish fans this album probably became the one that actually made them fall in love with symphonic metal. Her opera voice can not me mistaken for anyone else and Nightwish does miss that original touch now regardless whether it was their choice to give up the opera part of music or not. Is it worth to buy? Depends what kind of music you are into. I still did not manage to make my Rock husband fall in love with it, same as my blues and pop lovers friends do not play it very often. But for those who do know and do like Scandinavian metal, symphonic metal, even power metal - this album would be a pleasant surprise. Its not for everyone, therefore I trully regret Tarja had to go and the new project started as I think new Nightwish is more for the masses rathen than individual fans. Dissapointing and the overall raiting of new videos on youtube as they bit the old ones which I can put my head around..
I can remember the first time I played this CD, it was the first time I'd connected with music, at all ever. It was an event that was very pivotal in my life; leading to a future obsession with music itself back in 2002. When I first got this CD, I was a bit wary as it had been called Symphonic power metal; and I still had the narrow-minded assumption about metal music itself. But what I got actually is one of the most beautiful songs composed on the album: Sleeping Sun, this had destroyed every metal assumption I had.
Tarja Turunen - Vocals
Emppu Vuorinen - Guitars
Sami Vänskä - Bass guitar
Tuomas Holopainen - Keyboards, Backing vocals (on track 7)
Jukka Nevalainen - Drums, Backing vocals (on track 7)
Tapio Wilska - Vocals (on track 3, 7, 9) (Session studio member)
Nightwish was formed by songwriter/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, the songwriter is the heart of Nightwish; he controls what image Nightwish gives to the music. This is their second album released in 1999; after the release of Angels Fall First was received with wide and mixed critical acclaim. they have adopted a much technical and maturer approach, losing some of the folk aspects they had from the previous album. It was an instant roaring success in Finland, reaching number 5, which is no mean feat for a group of 5 people who were only 21-22! The most important aspect of this band is that it is entirely written in English, I assume Tuomas, the songwriter felt he could get his message across better and quicker; Finnish is a very hard language to write songs into, it'd be INCREDIBLY LONG! I really do love the writing style that Tuomas has penned in this album, it is full of themes that is put across in a beautiful words. They have been carefully put together to provoke certain images in your head. The atmosphere is quite oceanic with its optimistic outlook to life, occasional pessimistic moments such as Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean song.
The album art itself is rather pretty, I initially picked it because it looked charming and brought me back to my childhood- the images associated with Disney and such. When I first opened it up to read the lyrics, which you will need due to the vocalist's finnish accent that makes it a bit difficult to ditinguish! The lyrics were a bit difficult to read due to the effects inside the booklet and also the swirly font.
There aren't lyrics for every song; the ones left out are Moondance, Walking in on Air, Sleeping Sun and Nightquest- which are the instrumental, a cover song and two bonus songs.
There are 10 official songs with an additonal 2 bonus songs: Sleeping Sun and Nightquest. I have mentioned that they took a much more mature approach to the music; there are more complex instruments interactions, especially the keyboard. Tuomas, in my opinion has worked very hard on his keyboard of his to meld the keyboard and guitar riffs so seamlessly, it doesn't feel out of place or derail the music too much it becomes too keyboard-y.
One of the things that made me fall in love with music itself was the operatic singer of Tarja Turunen. She had a very powerful but yet bombastic voice; I hadn't heard of anything so beautiful before. Her most accomplished song, in terms of her operatic range has to be Sleeping Sun or Swanheart.
This song is an amazing song to open up the album, with its heavy and frantic manner with the guitars and keyboards intertwining. It is a beautiful combination of guitar riffs with melody given by the keyboards with a seriously fantastic accomplished range of vocal work in this song. The lyrics might be something a bit hard to take seriously but on the whole, it shows a much more maturer approach from the lyrical side than in Angels Falls First.
Gethsemane continues the same manner as it does with Stargazers- rather frantic keyboard interactions with the slightly- toned down guitars for this song; Turunen propels out the vocals in an emotional manner that really captures the emotion of the song really well. This may have been due to the lyrics that Holopainen wrote, which provokes such strong imagery in which the listener can connect to the song, even if they're listening to it in a casual manner. This is definitely one of my most-listened song from this album due to the emotions shown by Turunen, the beautifully written lyrics that creates powerful images and also, it is a song that I can listen to in any mood!
3. Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean
By the end of the two songs; you might think that you have the album down to a pat; the mood of the album suddenly changes to a grim and morbid atmosphere; there is really heavy drums and almost-death metal like vocals, which is perfect to represent a figure like the devil. This was vocalised by Wilska who is a famous figure in folk metal bands and he is a really good addition to the production of the album! I honestly think that this song was the most guitar-driven song; perfectly done to get the atmospheric and dramatic tone right. The duo bounce their vocals off each other to a successful degree that you can really feel their emotions put across in the lyrics.
4. Sacrament of Wilderness
There is a much more of an emphasis on the guitars in the song; which gives a refreshing change from the other keyboard-driven songs, it is a solid song. The chorus is pretty catchy and powerful with its lyrics. The lyrics also puts across solidly the magical ideas that Holopainen possesses throughout the album
Naked in midwinter magic
Lies an angel in the snow
The frozen figure crossed by tracks of wolves
5. Passion and the Opera
One of the most majestic track on the album; it starts off with with an impression of being a guitar-orietated track, but actually, it is a fantastic mix of everything: great vocals, good guitar riffs combining with beautiful melody from the keyboards, the drumming are really strong on this song and it does feel as if its in flow with each other. Some might suggest that this is more operatic than metal but in my opinion, it is a nice but a subtle mix of the two throughout.This song also demonstrates the powerful ability of the vocalist; Turunen. The lyrics themselves are a little suggestive and may raise a few 'ooer's for some people who are new to this band.
This is a very slow moving ballad, Nightwish does ballads really well and most of the time it's got really good lyrics to accompany it but this song for me, disrupts the tempo and flow of the album, it stuck out far too much. The lyrics are a bit odd, as you can see in the following:
All those beautiful people
I want to have them all
All those porcelain models
If only I could make them fall
However the flute and other musical accompainents are beautiful arranged, and it can be quite haunting if you're in the right mood. But most of the time, it is a bore to listen to.
This the only instrumental song on this album and they do instrumentals VERY WELL; they do manage to hold my attention for 03:22 minutes. They have beautifully crafted this song that jumps from a folky- style pianos to heavy guitars with drums, it jumps backwards and forwards. It does seem a strange concept to think of but when you listen to the song, you realise actually it is a very successful accomplishment of melding the two different styles into a very fun song to listen to.
8. The Riddler
This has to be one of my favourite songs in terms of the lyrics; it transports me to a magical world where it is utterly astounding. The lyrics is so powerful in this song, more so than any other songs, it really put across that nature is beautiful, seeing through the eyes of a child. Otherwise, it is a fairly straightforward song, with the keyboard accompainments that is very well woven with the lyrics, this making the visual imagery generated by the lyrics even more powerful! This is a slightly differernt take on the style and the band does it very well, it doesn't seem to be dull at all throughout its 05:16 minutes length.
9 The Pharoah Sails to Orion
The song starts with a slow keyboard opening, tricking you into thinking that perhaps it is another slow song but actually, it is one of Nightwish's heaviest songs in their entire discography! It is a very fine metal epic with amazing guitar riffs and drumming and keyboards. The combination of the harsh vocals with the angelic-vocals results in a haunting song that plays off each other, It is also imperative to mention the lyrics- it is utterly different to what has been sampled so far in this album, it does take you on another provocative imagery journey again.
10. Walking in on Air
Yes, you have guessed it! It is a cover based on the magical and beautiful short cartoon film 'The Snowman'. I think Holopainen wanted to do a cover song based on the themes he has been exploring in the album here; the magical world of make-believe and similar sorts. I honestly think this is a fantastic over and not one to be missed!
11. Sleeping Sun
Right, this song is an absolute diamond in this album; hiding right at the back, it wasn't even in the main album which is madness! This is the song that sparked my love for music itself so I hold this song in the highest esteem, it is one of my favourite songs. A keyboard orientated song that is vocally driven, which doesn't sound appealing but when listening to the song, again Turunen pours all of her emotions into her voice which really puts the song across as a beautiful and haunting song itself.The lyrics were inspired by an eclipse that was occurring at the time and it obviously showed how a simple event provoked such feeling and thought in the writer itself. The song was so popular that in 2004/5, the band decided to do this song again, butchering the feel and emotion of the song that made it popular in the first place.
This band from a tiny finnish village of Kitee has created an absolute masterpiece of an album. Who knew there was absolute creative people lurking in the villages of frost-bitten places in the North that could create an album like this! The beautiful crafted accompainments of the keyboards, guitars, drumming and the powerful vocalist has shocked the metal world of what could be done.
You may have realised I have repeated the lyrics in every single song, it is because Holopainen, the very-accomplished lyrical composer has exceedingly out-done himself with his haunting and beautiful lyrical themes which is handled so well; he writes from so many points of views. I have heavily got into this band and for many years; I struggled to get into any other bands because they didn't have the same beautiful lyrical abilities as Holopainen possesses and I fear I will never come across another band that gives such beautiful imagery throughout.
The band has never surpassed this album and never will as they've matured too far down to road to revert back to this child-like view of the world in the lyrical themes and I'm sure to the band, it'd be taking a step back. Which is a shame because I like the ideas on this album! Definitely an unique band that has to be checked out.
I apologise for those who do not like track-by-track reviews but I felt it had to be done because it is one of my favourite albums and I couldn't skimp on any details at all. And apologies for the abosolutely ridiculous length for this review.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean
4 Sacrament Of Wilderness
5 Passion And The Opera
9 Pharaoh Sails To Orion
10 Walking In The Air
11 Sleeping Sun
13 Sleeping Sun
15 Pharaoh Sails To Orion