Judging by the cover, this would be Nightwish´s softer album. Definitely is the hardest one, as Tuomas has already said. But the cover by Marcus Mayer maybe is not the most appropriate. Anyway, the music is the thing that matters, and this album is good at it.
I would say this time Nightwish didn't rely much in the Power Metal elements that filled Oceanborn, and that were still there in Wishmaster. So I think it has some more gothic approach (hey, don't come with the "labels suck" argument, this is just to describe the music). Century Child starts with "Bless the Child", nice song, the video for this one rules. As I said, the guitars are the most heavy of Nightwish, the keyboards are more gothic and less power, there is a narrator at the beginning and the end, that speak about this "innocence philosophy" of Tuomas. Tarja starts with her sweetest voice. Next is "End of All Hope", I love the melody of the verses, and the chorus is nice, maybe similar to Wishmater, but not that spectacular. "Dead to the World" is the one that has more power elements, such as the keyboard fast riff. Marco sings for the first time here nice lines as well as Tarja´s.
Next is "Ever Dream". Well, if Wishmaster was my favorite NW song, this is definitely the second. Its the most sweetest song, it makes me shivers, and the orchestration is beautiful. The chorus is very emotional, its indescribable. The best song in the album, Tuomas said it was the most typical NW song in the album (that's why it was the single), well it is also an incredible song, and they should make more typical NW songs then. If Rhapsody surprised everyone with "When demons awake", this is Nightwish turn to get aggressive with "Slaying the Dreamer". Man, Tuomas was really angry when he wrote this. Pretty heavy, gothic, doom, the lyrics is Nightwish's darkest hour, and Marco's part is almost death metal, with a strange overdubbing, that makes it more aggressive, finishing with "I TRULY HATE YOU ALL!!!!!".
Then the albums comes a little down. "Forever yours", "Ocean Soul" and "Feel for you" are nothing outstanding, plain Nightwish. "The Phantom of the Opera" is the song to be covered by metal bands featuring women and men singing, and NW's result is a good one. Maybe Tuomas had this in mind for some time, and now that Marco is in, it was the right moment.
For the last song, the epic closer, it has its good moments, some a little bit boring. Usually I like the long songs, because the bands take care that every part is excellent, but I am sorry to say that is no the case in "Beauty of the Beast". The "One more night to live" part is the best one, some parts are very nice, ("I WISH I HAD... ONE MORE NIGHT TO LIVE" is the kind of music parts that makes one shiver), then it features this kind of lines that Tuomas writes that make me think: hey, how is Tarja going to sing "Beware the beast but enjoy the feast he offers" , in that time, and with that melody, it doesn´t sound too harmonic, the lyrics are sort of forced, but it appeared in all NW's albums, and here too. Anyway its not that bad. The "Christabel" part is only a spoken part by the Dead Boy, who seems to be alive, and also has grown up, and lost his kid voice from the song "Dead Boy's poem", where he could make you cry (considering the lyrics, and the emotional moment). What a pity, he shouldn't have grown (just kidding).
In general the lyrics are the most poetic Tuomas has written, and the fantasy themes of Wishmaster had been abandoned, to show more his deep angry feelings. Again I say, he was really mad, I wouldn't have liked to be around while he wrote this-
I believe this album is pretty different from Wishmaster, and the evolution change to a heavier, less power sound. Its a very good album. Not so representative of Nightwish, but one every fan should have.
Blind Guardian - A Night at the Opera 9/10
Well, this is a short one, there is a lot of reviews out there, so I will not describe each track, but say my opinion about some of them. It certainly is the most produced album, and the sound is pretty different to the previous albums, although you can tell its Blind Guardian. You really feel like there is a lot of instruments playing.
Some may say that this album doesn´t have hits such as "Born in a mourning hall", "Bright Eyes" or "Journey through the dark", which filled the albums before NIME. Well, maybe that´s true at the first listen, you may not be attracted to any particular song but "And then there was Silence". But you really need to let it grow with many listens. I thought "Precious Jerusalem" was really boring, but now I know its an excellent song. In the other hand I really was captured by "Battlefield" first, but now is not that great. "Under the ice" and "Sadly sings destiny" are not the best, but are nice songs. The only slow song is "The maiden and the minstrel knight" which is an incredible ballad, very emotive. Another great song is "Wait for an Answer", you never heard a song with so many choirs singing one over the other, hard to follow the lyrics. "The Soulforged" you could say it is a real hit, as it has the most catchier chorus on the album. "The age of fall innocence" has an excellent piano part, the chorus is not so good, but its a nice song. "Punishment Divine" is the most hard track, the rhythm guitar reminds me of Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards, and it is an excellent song.
"And then there was Silence" is a musical icon. This song is just incredible, the chorus is grandiose, it has calm parts, some very emotional parts (no hope, the blind leads the blind...) (still the wind blows, calm and silent, carries news from a distant shore), its incredible but this song can make me cry. Its beautiful, and makes the 14 minutes pass as 3. Then there is the bonus track, the version of "Harvest of Sorrow" sung in different languages, depending where you bought it, and probably with backing vocals by a local musician. In my case (Argentina) it is a Spanish version with Adrian Barilari of Rata Blanca (see concert reviews). Hansi´s pronunciation is quite correct, though its easy to say his German.
Well, Blind Guardian fans should be happy for their band released an awesome album. Much harder than NIME, but not in the way of Imaginations from the other Side. Blind Guardian evolution is constant and noticeable. So each album is really different, and although NIME and ANATO are the most symphonic albums, they are pretty different from each other, and they are two masterpieces.
- Over The Hills and Far Away
the next album Nightwish decided to release this EP with four tracks. “Over
The Hills and Far Away” is a song of Gary Moore, which Tuomas claims to be the
one that got him into music, so they decided to cover it with excelent results.
The song is already a must in live setlists of NW concerts, and is not like they
are covering, more like a song of their own. The second song is called “10th
Man Down”. It has a dark atmosphere and the chorus is great. It also features
the ultra-tomb voice, performed by someone named Wilska (the pharaoh and the
devil of Oceanborn),, which works perfectly. Then “Away” is a simple ballad
with nice lyrics, but it won´t be remembered as the others. The last song is a
re-make of “Astral Romance” a song from Angels Fall First album, it’s a
nice song and its not a representative of NW song. Tuomas sang a part in the
original version, but I think that the mixing was not that good and his voice is
very low, added that he is not a great singer, so I think that is a reason for
re-recording it. This one features Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, (they became
good friends with Tuomas and he also sang “Beauty and the Beast” in the
concert of From Wishes to Eternity). The lyrics of that part also changed and
its much better, though the song as a whole didn´t change much, of course
production is much better.
- Power Of The Dragonflame
Rhapsody´s 4th Album is the closing of the now famous Emerald Sword Saga written by Luca Turilli. In my opinion this is not Rhapsody´s best, but I don´t agree when most reviewers say that they are stuck in the same formula and never change. Rhapsody music has changed, but I prefer the sound on Symphony of Enchanted Lands. Anyway this album is a kickass album. There are some characteristics that makes it different than the previous albums:
has the best intro – IN TENEBRIS, probably the most symphonic, and with best
best ballad – LAMENTO EROICO, with an astonishing performance by Fabio with
opera-like vocals and excellent choirs backing him.
Epic Closer of the album – GARGOYLES, ANGELS OF DARKNESS, is divided in 3
parts: ANGELI DI PIETRA MISTICA (angels of mystic stone) it has a cool riff, a
weak ESTROFA, and a chorus in Italian which is normal, but it really lacks some
incredible chorus, sort of the SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LAND chorus. The 2nd
part is WARLORD´S LAST CHALLENGE, an incredible instrumental part with an
excellent long guitar solo by Luca, combined with a very cool orchestration, the
violins start and stop suddenly, very cool. The last and closing the saga is
…AND THE LEGEND ENDS… with a long hymn, the kind of
song that make you want to grab the sword and ride in a dragon through an
enchanted valley. But then it gets very bad when the narrator start the talking,
which is very long, I liked it more
when he just said one or two sentences. All in all is an excellent way of
closing the story.
in the category of the more
medieval inspired songs we have THE MARCH OF THE SWORDMASTER, which is the best
compared to the others songs of this style, with a very sing along chorus over a
melody which is a traditional melody in Italy.
DEMONS AWAKE is already pretty famous thanks to the “death/black metal”
voice Fabio uses, very aggressive, and the song goes well with the lyrics and
rest are usual power metal hits with Rhapsody orchestration and in this point is
where this album is weaker than the others: The first one, opener is KNIGHTRIDER
OF DOOM, which is the worse compared with WARRIOR OF ICE, EMERALD SWORD, or DAWN
OF VICTORY, even RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES is better. POWER OF THE DRAGONFLAME
is nice, but doesn´t deserve to name the album after it. Then AGONY IS MY NAME,
STEELGODS OF THE LAST APOCALYPSE and THE PRIDE OF THE TYRANT, are cool songs,
but any of them have an outstanding chorus or something to be distinguished
to the other albums its probably the worse (well not compared to ROATF), I miss
the long instrumental parts such as WARRIOR OF ICE and RAGE OF THE WINTER, or
THE DARK TOWER OF ABYSS. I am filled with hope for the next album since it won´t
be about the emerald sword saga, so they are more free to compose (without
following the story line).