NIGHTWISH is one of those bands from Scandinavia who don't need much of an introduction. Tuomas Holopainen is the mastermind behind NIGHTWISH, being the only member who actually is gifted, musically speaking. As a child, he was of course also very "talented" in poetry and text composition. He was sent to study music at an early age, and by the time he was finishing school, he braucht his life project "Nightwish" to life. After the typical band member round up, a fixed line-up was formed. The foundation for becoming mega-stars in the common mainstream musical line was set. NIGHTWISH quickly rose to fame in both the established Metal scene, as well as in the modern Pop scene.
After a relative successful demo tape back in 1996, their full length follow-up, "Angels Fall First", became a groundbreaking album, defining the late 90s genre of "epic" symphonic music infused into Heavy Metal, attaching itself to the genre like a parasite to a wild animal. This parasite of course leeches the life essence of the host, in this context of course, of Heavy Metal. Now, after maturising in the late 90s, NIGHTWISH have also released some killer material on "Wishmaster" for example. But "Angels Fall First" is a dull moment in their history, filled with cheesy and boring, melodramatic fantasy themed rubbish. Every song on this album is an uninspired piece of festering mold. Another example of the popular "not all debuts are legendary" case. This album satisfies everything a generic fantasy-fan requires. Pseudo-majestic cheesy guitar riffs, operatic keyboard passages, a beautiful drain of emotional atmosphere and to top it all off, a vocal offering from the most vain princess in white, Tarja Turunen (who later became a pop-idol all over Europe and such), that could make any teenage girl cry. Tuomas Holopainen also sings every once in a while, but, sadly, fails miserably in bringing his emotional stress into an authentic expression, sounding like a gloryhole-receiving-fag. Stay away from those public toilets. Yuck.
"Astral Romance" is exactly the right call for this album, sounding like nothing inspiring. Like a big black nothing. To a Metal fan this is less than appalling, it is in fact, a grotesque pain to the ears. While not being enough that the music itself is dull, lifeless and boring, Tarja also screws up most of the vocal passages, although it may not be always her direct fault (although the lyrics and melodies are by Tuomas, heck you could almost call this band a Tuomas-solo-effort). While I myself am a great fan of classical music, operas were never my cup of tea. The incredibly high soprano screeches simply do not appeal, sounding too vain to actually enjoy. Tarja makes no exception, driving glass to splitting, which is horrible. Good thing she improves this, sounding much better a few years later. But on this release and the next ones, she fails.
The lyrics are, as before hinted, lame random fantasy garbage. The pronunciation of certain words is also flawed. "Nymphomanic Fantasia", what the hell is that? "Feel the ocean, lick my deepest", just what in the world is happening here? "Deeper shall be the wound between your legs", give me a break, this is horrible. I begin to doubt the celebrated lyrical "talent" this guy is supposed to have. The track "Know Why The Nightingale Sings" sounds almost like the first one "Elvenpath" only a little more lame. Tracks that actually save the album from a complete zero are e.g. part I of the final song "Erämaajärvi" and part IV "Etiäinen". The rest is again cheese. The bonus tracks are also forgettable. Overall, a quite overrated and boring album. Not recommended.
(Online August 19, 2009)