Nightwish - 1997 - 2001
Spinefarm Records
Symphonic Opera Metal

Release year: 2002
Nightwish, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Ben

Most everyone into the European metal scene knows who Nightwish is. They blend a rich, atmospheric, keyboard driven metal style with the smooth operatic vocals of Tarja Turennen. When I say keyboards though I dont mean super speedy fast soloing like Sonata Arctica or Children of Bodom instead keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen plays with a more "soundtrack" feel much like movie scores. Lately though on their newest cd Century Child Tarja has begun employing more "normal" type singing instead of her usual operatic flare which I personally enjoy alot but, if you want to know more about Century Child check out the review done earlier in the year.

Nightwish's boxset 1997-2001 is comprehensive and complete overview of the bands career. It contains the albums Angels Fall First, Oceanborn, Wishmaster, and Over the Hills and Far Away. It sounds to me as if these albums have all been remastered and there are a handful of bonus tracks scattered about as well. Oceanborn has the bonus cut Sleeping Sun, Wishmaster has Sleepwalker and Over the Hills and Far Away has six live tracks that were not found on the Finnish release. The packaging to this boxet is very well done with a gorgeous bookstyle case and some great new artwork. I will try and give a brief rundown on the albums, brief because some of these albums have been reviewed here on metalreviews before.

Angels Fall First is the least known Nightwish cd. It is the most folk oriented album and the most "primitive". It sounds almost as if they arent going full out on the songs and are wracked with a nervous anxiety. Tuomos shares vocal duties with Tarja and even though he obviously isnta singer first and foremost he does a fairly decent job. The style of of the songs range from straight ahead classic Nightwish like Elvenpath to almost pop stylings on The Carpenter. A humble beginning for the now very well known and popular band but not a bad begninng by any means.

Oceanborn is next and a huge improvement musically. The dynamics and production are improved 100%, the whole album seethes with a fresh new exciting vibe along with a newfound senseof confidence. It is on this album where Tarja really lets loose with her operatic singing like the outro to Passion and the Opera. There are still male vocals here provided this time by Wilska on The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and The Pharoh Sails to Orion in a deathlike low register growl with Pharoah being the better track. It is with this album where Nightwish find the style of playing they would develop and nurture with the following albums. The bonus track Sleeping Sun is a very romantic soothing ballad that was originally released on a four song EP in Finland.

Third album, Wishmaster is next and here is where Nightwish's popularity skyrockets. This was the first cd of theirs to go platinum and I can understand why. The songs are more complete than ever before and the production is slick and flawless and every instrument is clearly visible in the musical soundscape. This is also the first album to feature no male vocals whatsoever and pushed Tarjas voice to the front with multiple vocal tracks and some lovely melodies. Sleepwalker sounds very different than what most people have come to expect from Nightwish. It is an almost dance like tune driven by a steady rhythm that sounds almost like it was produced from a drum machine, I can see why it was relegated to b-side status but Im glad its finally included on this re-issue.

The fourth and final installment on 1997-2001 is Over the Hills and Far Away. (This cd was also reviewed originally check out the review for details about the album.) I enjoyed this disc very much the title track and the remake of Astral Romance are my favorites. On Astral Romance Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica replaces Tuomas as the male counterpart to Tarja and the words are altered as well. this is a much much much better version than the one found on Angels Fall First. The six live tracks are taken off of the Finnish only live album From Wishes to Eternity, highlights include Wishmaster, Sacrament of the Wilderness and Beauty and the Beast where Tony Kakko also provides vocals for.

This boxset is for two types of people only, hardcore Nightwish fans that need everything that has the bands name stamped on it, or a casual fan that magically finds this limited box and spends a fairly large sum of money on it. If you already own the normal releases then really think hard about getting this as youll only be getting a few tracks you didnt have before. If you only have say one or two Nightwish cds and you like them then its a safe bet youll like this boxet as well. For the hardcore fans though this would have been alot more rewarding if it had alot more bonus tracks or an estensive booklet but hey I love Nightwish so I naturally like this boxset. Like I said though think hard before buying this if you already own the original cds.

Killing Songs :
The albums Angels Fall First, Oceanborn, Wishmaster and Over the Hills and Far Away
Ben quoted no quote
Other albums by Nightwish that we have reviewed:
Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Nightwish - Oceanborn reviewed by Cory and quoted 91 / 100
Nightwish - Imaginaerum reviewed by Cory and quoted 84 / 100
Nightwish - Dark Passion Play reviewed by Marty and quoted 92 / 100
Nightwish - Wish I Had an Angel reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
To see all 16 reviews click here
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