Author: Sam Grant
Nightwish are a super-group. All the band members have their fingers in countless other pies, so when you put everyone in the same room itís almost like shunting several blocks of plutonium into the same space. The result is an explosion of sound, and harnessed by Tuomas, itís an explosion of talent.
One of the biggest differences about Century Child is the inclusion of the male vocals, which are a turn-off for a lot of people. A lot of Nightwish fans are in love with Tarja and donít want the space in their auditory canals to be polluted by testosterone-fuelled bellowing when listening to a Nightwish CD. Personally, I canít see what all the fuss is about. This is definitely the best material Nightwish have come up with since Oceanborn. In fact, to really put my head on the block, I think itís better. No, I havenít gone crazy. Oceanborn was a fine album, but there were bits of it that grated with me, by which I mean a couple of very silly songs. We all have to take on board the fact that power-metallers have a limited sense of irony [just check out Beto Vasquez Infinity], but Century Child has none of that. There are no annoying songs. No daft songs. OK, Iím a little dubious about the Phantom Of The Opera cover, because itís thoroughly pointless, but if we cut that particular sore out, the rest is looking pretty good.
Nightwish know the formula by now. They know what theyíre loved for, and on this album theyíve exploited that to the full. Great track rolls on after great track: Bless The Child, End Of All Hope and Dead To The World are all brilliant. All the way to the grand opus that is Beauty Of The Beast, this is Nightwishís finest hour. The heaviest song on the album is by far Slaying The Dreamer, which is Tuomasís way of saying, "Look! I can do heavier shit! You thought The Pharoah Sails To Orion didnít cut it, well check this!" Still, itís a little hard to associate the growls with Nightwish because itís unfamiliar and anyway, a lot of Nightwishers like the warbly rather than the growly stuff, so they may feel a little out of their depth with this number. Maybe Tuomas is just testing the water before his next full-scale assault, an album of death metal bloated to bursting point with copious double kick-bass, screeching and grunting. No? Shame, I would have loved to see it.
Tarja still sounds as sultry as ever here and Marcoís voice fits in perfectly. Itís nice to have a little addition on this album, something extra. However, his voice isnít a spice to the music so much as a herb. I remember hearing Tony Kakko on the remake of Astral Romance and thinking this could be a good direction for the band to go in, and lo and behold, I wasnít wrong. Marco isnít at all overpowering and knows his place within the music. The people who will benefit the least from this move are the Nightwish purists who wouldnít like one iota of innovation to scratch the surface of their beloved bandís sound. Well, tough, itís happened now, so youíre stuck with it. Open your minds a little.
There has been a lot of whingeing about this album. Those fans who threw Century Child by the wayside and invented flaws by meticulously comparing it bar by bar to their previous efforts [including the "quality" Angels Fall First, it says here] have got a screw loose. Century Child delivers the power of Wishmaster and Oceanborn without the listener having to trudge through the boring or musically redundant moments. Maybe it wonít pleasure every listener in microwave-quick time, but thatís all for the better. Stick it on, listen and appreciate. Power metal has never had it so good.