(16 June 2002) When I first read the introduction letter accompanying our copy of Century Child
(Spinefarm (Finland) SPI148, 2002) I did not pay lot of attention to the text saying
"Nightwish has taken a notable step forward with their new album." It sounded like the
usual promotional text we are used to seeing widely just as interest stimulator.
The first listens did not open the album as easily as the previous ones, but as we
all know, this is usually a good sign. But the letter was right and we have a very
welcome album here. Especially the two albums before Century Child have presented us
Nightwish as they are and that sound has made the heavenly feeling of flying high
"Over The Hlls" and so on--Century Child is obviously born under high pressure
and expectations. The band survived change of one of their members; composer Tuomas
Holopainen says "a lot of personal anxiety was involved when writing the new songs."
Century Child includes new sounds and elements. You can hear the
participation of Joensuu City Orchestra, Tuomaschoir and for the first time a male
vocalist together with the stunning Tarja Turunen. The new band member Marco Hietala
(bass) sings the male vocal parts.
All the new elements compliment the original Nightwish-style composing we are
familiar with, but overall listening brings you the feeling of an album slightly harder
rocking than the previous ones, despite the balancing of classical elements. One tiny
detail supporting the heavy line is the somewhat distorted bass part. The album remains well arranged
and sounds great!
Musical Discoveries focus on Tarja Turunen as female lead vocalist of the band has
been a continuous enjoyment ever since we learned to know their music. Her classical
background and ongoing studies in Germany show her again as professional soprano
loaning her voice for metal edged rock, although this was originally not to be at
all her area of music as she publicly admits.
Tarja will continue her classical studies a couple more years and sadly this breaks Nightwish's tour plans. We first noticed Tarja to sing wider scale and lower tones when she co-operated with Beto Vazquez Infinity album last
year (feature). We find the same on Century
Child. The duets that Tarja and Marco sing are one of the highlights of this album
and a good example of perfect success is the cover of "Phantom of the Opera."
Century Child went immediately to platinum in Nightwish's home country of
Finland. This is the ultimate local record of any artist making it in only two weeks.
The album is at the top of our ratings for bands of similar style with a female lead
vocalist. Nightwish has continuously shown their capability to create new elements
out of surrounding dimensions and they certainly do it here again for our pleasure.
I rate the album third against the earlier Nightwish albums with Oceanborn and
Wishmaster rated above it. This is primarily because I personally prefer and
enjoy the less hard sound of those albums and secondly after so much Nightwish
listening the criticism hits hard on evry part you think you have heard from them
In "Bless The Child," the choir at opening is very nice, and it is generally a
well arranged piece. A mixed rock beat, not typical for Nightwish underscores
"End of Hope" which follows. Marco makes his debut on vocals in "Dead To The
World" one of my favourite songs. The harder speed metal track "Slaying The Dreamer"
didn't appeal much to me.
"Ever Dream" is the first single from the album that has had a lot of play time
at our local radio; rich percussion is added to the typical Nightwish sound. We also
enjoyed "Forever Yours." Another favourite is "Ocean Soul," a nice ballad backed with
a rock beat. Tarja told us "this is one of the most enjoyable to sing." A nice duet
and equally enjoyable is "Feel For You." But it is "Phantom Of The Opera" that
generates a real wow!--the duet works fine.
The album concludes with the multi-part "Beauty of the Beast." Emppu's great guitar
work is featured here and at five minutes running the track has a very powerful sound
and really breaks the skies. There are two editions of the album available. While
our promo included only one CD, the limited edition includes two with the second having
bonus material essential to serious Nightwish fans. Details are available on the
band's official website. The album is
generally available in Europe from the first week of July.--Mauri Osterholm,
Scandinavian Bureau Chief
Interested visitors will want to check out our
review of the "Ever Dream" single and the latest update to our Nightwish feature.