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Nightwish: Century Child

Century Child is heavier than prior Nightwish albums. And it has more choral and orchestral passages. And … there's a new bassist who doubles as a partner in the vocals (shock, horror). And there's a cover song (more shock, more horror!)

So – does Century Child herald the arrival of a whole new Nightwish?

In case you're unfamiliar with them – Finnish Nightwish is one of Europe's top symphonic / operatic / power-metal bands styled after The Gathering and Lacuna Coil et al. I.e. Euro-goth symphonic metal with a female vocalist. Nightwish's sound has always been defined by the operatic vocals of classically trained soprano Tarja Turunen, mixed with the heavy metal of band-boss Tuomas Holopainen. And Nightwish is an acquired taste – you'll love them or hate them. Finland loves them. Century Child's pre-release sales ran to 21,000 thousand units just in 2 hours.

Marco Hietala, bassist from Finnish "beauty-and-the-beast" goth-metal band Sinergy, joins Nightwish for this album and engages Tarja in some interesting duets. Bringing Marco into the mix threatened to alienate many fans, but strangely, the metal male and operatic female combination works remarkably well and introduces a whole new dimension to the music. Nightwish will be well advised to promote Marco from supporting role to shared lead vocalist in future releases.

The liberal inclusion of orchestra and choirs must have cost a bomb and will make touring difficult – but they lend the album a rich, very professional sound. The double-bass and distorted metal sound at the bottom is heavier than on previous releases. Track 5, "Slaying The Dreamer", borders on the nu- / black- / heavy-metal sounds of the Cradle Of Filth genre, and is surely the heaviest thing Nightwish has ever produced. Yet they do it well and we hope they'll do it more often. The pièce de résistance is the 10+ minute final track, "Beauty Of The Beast". Probably one of Nightwish's best pieces ever, it is complex and progressive yet it remains true to the signature Nightwish sound.

Then there's that cover tune. Andrew Loyd Webber is a fine songwriter, and Nightwish does a wonderful job with "The Phantom Of The Opera". But listen to that closing track and you'll understand that Nightwish is awash in creative juices. Cover songs are a cop out and Phantom doesn't belong here.

So – no, it's not a new Nightwish. It's the old Nightwish showing they are unafraid to experiment and grow. We think the dual vocals work well, and this is probably their best album to date. But that cover-tune has cost them their five-star rating.

Added: November 23rd 2003
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Nightwish Web Site
Hits: 6641
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Nightwish: Century Child
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-02-24 06:02:39
My Score:

When you take the time to consider the more standout bands in the world of Metal nowadays, Nightwish is probably one of the first to come to mind. With each release Nightwish brings you into a diverse world that combines metal with arias and epic orchestrations. Tarja Turunen definitely has one of the best and most beautiful voices to come along in some time. She has led the way for modern metal women of today to find a stronger foothold in the music we love. "Century Child" was the first readily available releases in the USA courtesy of Century Media Records. This is a great CD, and it quickly follows up on the success of "Wishmaster". Beginning with "Bless The Child" you are quickly drawn into the sound of the band by Tarja's warm vocals and a very eerie haunting melody. When the "End Of All Hope" kicks in you find that the group can be heavy as they find the need. This number is full of incredible double drumming by Jukka and great guitar wizardry of Emmpu. For those who enjoy a hearty chorus the track "Dead To The World" might be most impressive. I admit that on the CD, these few are actually among my favorites. When Nightwish first played the States a little over a year ago, they performed some these and it made enjoying them all the more easier. Showcasing her softer side, Tarja serenades you with "Forever Yours", it is the closest thing to a ballad that you will find on the CD. There is also an unusual item on the disk and that is "Phantom Of The Opera". Now I am not speaking of the Iron Maiden song of the same name, but instead the version from the Broadway play. While I am aware of this plays wide and worldwide popularity, I admit I found it amusing that a band from Finland would choose to perform it. Reservations aside, the band does not disappoint and brings the sound of Broadway to an entirely different audience with this one. You will be impressed. Nightwish has since moved on from Century Media to Roadrunner Records as their label in the USA. Yet, I am not certain if they will also take on the back catalog. For now, if you need those you should look into CM's site. They reissued them here and added a track or two for the listener to enjoy it more. Nightwish is definitely one of those bands that if you are for some reason not looking into you should. They have defined a new level of style to it, and raised power metals bar a little higher.
Track List
1. Bless The Child
2. End Of All Hope
3. Dead To The World
4. Ever Dream
5. Slaying The Dreamer
6. Forever Yours
7. Ocean Soul
8. Feel For You
9. The Phantom Of The Opera
10. Beauty And The Beast

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