The title says it all! Opinions expressed here are those of the authors. Personal tastes may vary, and we are cool with that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CD Review: Nightwish's "Wishmaster"

So after such a great album in "Oceanborn", Nightwish was quickly gaining notoriety and popularity in Europe (and even in South America later on in the Wishmaster tour). Their venues were growing and the hype that was surrounding them was becoming more evident as they were gaining more fans and all of the experiences along the way.

Nightwish's third album "Wishmaster" was released in 2000. Though not quite as innovative or as impressive as their previous release, it is really close to it in quality. Some things, however, saw some improvements. For one, Tarja's vocals got better. Her tone was clearer and more sharp than it was and it is apparent that she has more confidence singing on this release as well. Another thing that is noticeably different are the way the songs are written.

It seems that Tuomas has finally found his niche for songwriting with this album. Even though the songs on "Oceanborn" were far more complex and unique, the songwriting seems more mature and more of what Tuomas had in mind. The production is much clearer and sharper than "Oceanborn" as well as the guitar being noticeably more present in the mix on this album. So some of the mistakes that were present on "Oceanborn" seemed to be fixed on this release, although there wasn't so many to begin with.

So here is my song by song review:

1. "She Is My Sin": Other than "Stargazers" and "Dark Chest of Wonders", this is my favorite Nightwish opening track on an album. It starts off very bombastic and powerful as we'd expect from a band like this and it never lets up from there with this mid-tempo power metal number. Awesome lyrics, inspired singing, impressive keyboard and guitar work all make this song great from start to finish! 5/5

2. "The Kinslayer": The opening keyboard melody to this song is great, followed by a great guitar riff by Emppu. The song is about the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, which shocked the world around that time. The lyrics are dark and memorable, and Tarja showcases her bombastic operatic sound in her voice perfectly. 5/5

3. "Come Cover Me": A very nice intro with the keyboard and a flute which leads right into a mid-tempo power metal love song. It isn't as good or as amazing as the last two songs, but it is still a good song with inspiring lyrics. 4/5

4. "Wanderlust": Right from the beginning, the song explodes into this intense keyboard/guitar melody that will rock your world. The song has many interesting melodic passages and has fantasy-based lyrics that keep you cheerful and uplifted. The chorus is epic and the outro is just amazing with Tarja providing some beautiful operatic passages! 5/5

5. "Two For Tragedy": One of the two ballads on this album. This ballad is the weaker of the two and while it isn't a bad song, it just isn't that memorable. 3.5/5

6. "Wishmaster": Only one word can describe this song: EPIC!!!!! The chorus is the most memorable in the band's history as it keeps the listener left in awe. The keyboards in this song are fantastic as well as the guitar work. The lyrics are inspired by the Dragon lance novels and really helps the atmosphere of this song. This song keeps you cheerful and happy the whole time, and it remains a classic for the symphonic power metal genre and is one of my all time favorite songs. Definitely a timeless classic! 6/5

7. "Bare Grace Misery": A mid-tempo power metal song. While not a terrible song, this is probably the weakest song on the album (besides the bonus track "Sleepwalker"). Nothing much to say about this one other than it is a filler song. 3/5

8. "Crownless": After a rather mediocre and average song, we get right back to business with this track. The opening has a great keyboard/guitar riff and it never let's up from there. This is one of Nightwish's fastest and upbeat songs to date with Jukka really putting the pedal to the metal on this one. The middle of the song with the keyboard and guitar solos are very inspired and powerful. Pure speed/power metal and an underrated song in the Nightwish library. 5/5

9. "Deep Silent Complete": After such a fast track, we slow down a little with this song. Tarja really shines on this one with her voice in the melody of the chorus. It is a very atmospheric song that is nice to listen to. 4/5

10. "Dead Boy's Poem": The second ballad of the album. This one is the better of the two on "Wishmaster". This showcases some of Tuomas' best lyrics to date and Tarja's vocals are very emotional throughout the piece. This is definitely one of their best ballads with an amazing and powerful outro. 5/5

11. "Fantasmic": Normally, I do not like Disney inspired songs (as I am not much of a Disney fan at all like Tuomas is! XD), but this song really kicks ass! The keyboard intro is so fantastic and epic, and Tarja's singing in this is so amazing! The song has a complex structure as it is divided into three parts. The first section is very heavy, fast and moving. The middle section is slower and ballad like, and has some moderately cheesy lyrics describing various Disney movies followed by a guitar solo by Emppu. The last (and best) section starts out with an amazing flute melody that is epic and powerful! Only Tuomas can think of something this cool! Tarja's vocals are bombastic and mind blowing here as usual with a great heavy guitar riff around the middle. The outro repeats the chorus very theatrically and finishes this awesome song. This is an amazing song, despite the lyrics being a little cheesy at times. 4.5/5

12. "Sleepwalker": This was the bonus track for this album and was released to be a song for the Eurovision competition. Since this was a Eurovision song, it really isn't that great and kind of lame for Nightwish standards. There isn't much to say about this one because I am not a big fan of this song. 2.5/5

So that is my review of "Wishmaster". So here is what I thought overall:

Pros:
-Tarja's vocals improved since the last album
-All of the songs are very catchy with amazing and memorable melodic passages throughout
-Improved production
-Plenty of fast, power metal fun

Cons:
-Cheesy lyrics on some songs
-A few filler tracks
-"Sleepwalker"

So while this album is not as good as "Oceanborn", I consider this quality power metal and is among one of my favorite albums. It is Nightwish's second best album in my opinion. Definitely a horns up \m/. Not a "classic" rating for this, but a solid 5/5.

4 comments:

CanuckFan said...

Thanks for the review, James. I agree about BGM, but in all honesty, I've never found "Wanderlust" to be all that mindblowing. "Sleepwalker" is OK, but I prefer the heavy version.

Winterstorm said...

Actually, "Wanderlust" is my favourite on this album, while "Wishmaster" is a bit overrated. The whole album is a ton of fun, but not as mindblowing and ethereal as its predecessor.

Eric James said...

@ Winterstorm

Yeah, I love "Wanderlust" too! It really is a great and fun song to listen to and doesn't get the respect it deserves! "Wishmaster" is a classic to me because that song describes what Nightwish does best with Tarja's voice. I think it clearly defines them as a band and what they are all about.

I agree that it isn't as mindblowing as Oceanborn, but it still harolds as one of my favorite albums that I have. Thanks for your comment! :D

Winterstorm said...

Yeah, I think I've simply heard "Wishmaster" a little too often. ;-) I really like exploring the bonus tracks, there are so many interesting ones.

BTW, I like "Sleepwalker" personally, both versions. Mainly for the vocals of course, the instrumental part is negligible. What I find interesting is how, when you compare the two versions, the beginning especially sounds quite different. It proves that Tarja could vary her voice quite a lot already back then - from VERY operatic (perhaps her most operatic sound ever on a Nightwish track) to a more popular sound, while always sounding great and moving. Even when the instrumental backing is just window-dressing.