Nightwish - _Oceanborn_
(Spinefarm, 1998)
by: David Rocher (10 out of 10)
Unless this year effectively -does- see the troops of Muspellheim washing over earthly shores, I don't really see what could reasonably hold this fantastic act back from attaining the same recognition level as a referential band like Therion. Hailing from Finland, this harmonious quintet, fronted by the enrapturing vocalist Tarja, play a fine, melodic brand of metal, that revels in dimensions somewhere between Children of Bodom, Stratovarius and Therion's excellent latest works. Nightwish's music structures and general tone sound rather progressive, yet their music is almost systematically constructed around a fairly heavy rhythmic section, which is clearly strengthened by the crunchy, Tico-Tico kind of powerful sound that _Oceanborn_ boasts. All musicians display a wide span of technique and imagination in their songwriting, and excellent keyboard lines admirably complete the melodic, technical guitar work; drummer Jukka is extensively active too, yet clever enough to never get vulgarly technical or spectacular, and his rather bouncy playing gives tracks such as "Stargazers" (-not- the Rainbow classic) or "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" a very dynamic, spectacular streak. The almighty crowning parts of this album, though, are undoubtedly vocalist Tarja's enthralling, majestic and very varied chants; rarely has a female singer graced metal with a voice this deep, warm, and emotional. With this competition of extraordinary imagination and very skilful musicianship, _Oceanborn_ rises miles above the blandness most releases boasting female vocals cannot avoid, and indeed oozes with the essence of a truly magical album, whose beauty is often so searing it will have you lost for words, and whose furiously communicative energy is nothing less than a near-religious commandment to wreck your neck. All chapters of this opus are beautiful -- captivating, even --, powerful and unbelievably catchy; Metal in fact seldom gets much better than this, and I can only regret not having discovered these fantastic Finns earlier. Truly a revelation, that has set me on the tracks of Nightwish's previous opus, _Angels Fall First_.

(article published 5/19/1999)


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