Author: Sam Grant
Oceanborn is an apt name for this album because on first hearing it I felt like I was coming to the surface and breathing air I'd been deprived of for too long after floundering about in the depths with the sea cow that was Angels Fall First.
With this second album, Nightwish distanced themselves perfectly from the Frankensteins monster that was their debut and made an album so superior in quality that it's almost incomparable. This is wonderful, heavy power/Gothic metal and you can tell they've really made the effort to produce an album of the highest metal quality. These people are also excellent musicians, and the technical brilliance on some of the numbers - Gethsemane and Stargazers to name a couple, can only be rivaled by After Forever. Still, there are times when I'm listening to this that I'm confused as to why they'd make life so hard for themselves by writing songs that demand such tight instrumentation, and I suppose the reason is because they can play such difficult stuff, and play it flawlessly.
I won't take you on a grand tour of the album, all anyone needs to know is that this is some of the best metal with female vocals that has been produced for a long time. Sacrament Of Wilderness, The Riddler, Swanheart, each song is great and different enough from its counterparts so the album is not bogged down with similarities, the curse of so many metal albums. The synths are, well, Nightwish synths and they make me think of purple glittery stars for some reason. Probably because they're dark and fantasy-esque, but also slightly naff. There's also a cover of Walking In The Air here from The Snowman [you know the one, the cartoon that's on every Xmas] and this version is better than the original! I know that sounds ludicrous, but it really is! Or at least, it is if youre into this sort of music. I can't imagine it replacing the original on the cartoon, though - a lot of people would have elements of their childhood destroyed. But it would be quite funny.
The only fault with Oceanborn is the infrequent [thankfully] inclusion of the pseudo-extreme vocals, provided by Wilska[?] You can see what Tuomas it trying to do here - he's desperate to get a growling voice on the album in some way or other, but it just doesn't work. It sounds like this guy's just come from covering 'I Like To Move It' by Real2Reel.
Apart from that, Oceanborn is a sensational piece of work - it is a prime 12oz rare steak of femme metal. It's full, succulent and filling. But if you're a vegetarian just think of it as a very ripe aubergine.