Nightwish - Angels Fall First
Spinefarm Records
Melodic Opera Metal
14 songs (63'02)
Release year: 1997
Nightwish, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

Nightwish. One of the few lucky groups that has transcended mere fanboy status to national super stars. This their debut, Angels Fall First is where it all began. Looking back you can definitely see some elements of the present day Nightwish but you also see how far they have come from this humble beginning. At the time of its release Angels Fall First was a new style of music, a Power Metal creature with an operatic vocal flair delivered by a young Tarja Turenen and masterminded by Tuomas Holopainen. Despite it's sense of newness and unique take on the metal genre and despite having some really strong songs, as a whole Angels Fall First seems to be a tepid affair, the players seem to be unsure of themselves and nervous and it comes through in their performances.

My first experience with Nightwish was with the opening song on here, Elvenpath. A classic song to many fans of the band this is where the legacy began. With its mixture of dramatic keyboards and Tarja’s distinctive voice, Elvenpath is a definite album opener. Things begin to bog down however with the following track Beauty and the Beast. Despite the really cool intro and great buildup when the singing kicks in you just kinda go huh? Whats that? I’m talking about when Tuomas starts singing. I wasn’t expecting this at all and even though he doesn’t sound terrible, his voice just sounds really held back and lacking confidence. I was thinking, “Oh that’s alright I just hope he doesn’t sing through most of the album,” but alas he does. Other than that minor flaw, Beauty and the Beast is still a live staple, and that is a testament to its solidarity. New fans of the band might be acquainted with the remake of Astral Romance but here is the original. I have to say though that this is a perfect example of the nervousness that seemed to have afflicted the bands vocalists. During the midsection where Tarja does the rounding with her voice and then Tuomas begins to sing sounds weak. You can tell that both Tarja and Tuomas aren’t singing their hearts out and once again the song suffers because of their “stage fright.” The title track is a ballad, a great one at that, Nightwish has always had exceptional ballads in their catalogue. Another highlight for me is the Eastern influenced Tutenkhamen . A mid tempo paced tune with some Middle Eastern sounding keyboards and Tarjas lilting voice this is a definite killer. See, this is a song where Tarja doesn’t sound like she’s scared to sing and she gives a better performance than she has on the previous tracks. Know Why the Nightingale Sings is another Power Metal to the hilt song much akin to Elvenpath. I’d like to see this included in the live setlist today because it is highly underrated. The final song is a mini epic of sorts, Lappi (Lapland) and is very folkloric. Acoustically driven throughout the duration with some gentle singing this is definitely a different Nightwish than the one we all know and love today. Its cool to hear this but I’ll take Fantasmic over this any day of the week. Some versions of Angels Fall First include two bonus tracks, Once Upon a Troubadour and A Return to the Sea. Troubadour is a soft lullaby, with gentle singing by both Tuomas and Tarja again. I advise you not to listen to this if you have pressing matters to attend to cos otherwise you’ll find yourself falling asleep fast. A good bonus but not something you wouldn’t live without.

All in all Angels Fall First is a fairly decent debut for a band that came out of nowhere. It contains some excellent songs but as a whole the album is bogged down by uncertain performances by the band. If Nightwish were to go back and re-record these songs for the hell of it, you could expect the score to jump up about twenty or more points. If you have never heard this amazing band before, check out Wishmaster or Century Child, then come back to Angels Fall First.

Killing Songs :
Elvenpath, Beauty and the Beast, and Know Why the Nightingale Sings
Ben quoted 67 / 100
Jay quoted 80 / 100
Aleksie quoted 78 / 100
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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