7 August 2014

Nightwish - Wishmaster

Wishmaster is an album I have been anticipating with a touch of dread as this is the fifth Nightwish piece I will have reviewed and obviously in reverse chronological order given that I am unashamedly a noted devotee and follower of them. For the act from Kitee Finland they've certainly moved on in the world with some dazzling kaleidoscope of metal, classic and in more recent times, they've been leaning towards the folk and celtic rock sampling.

Why am I fearing this review? Well, as mentioned in the other 'Wish appraisals, it all seems to boil down to largely one person - Tarja Turunen, which I admire and loathe in equal measures. I do accept her as a classically gifted singer and other acts like Epica (with Simone Simons for example) have proved that opera and metal can do well as a collective but Miss Turunen, well, for me, it's always going to be a bit of a mishmash.

Wishmaster is their third release and their last one with bassist Sami Vanska before he was given the elbow, cited by keyboardist and general dogsbody of the band Tuomas Holopainen over having notable musical differences. I admittedly don't know much about the said Finn, except that he did involve himself in a few other projects like Root Remedy, although very little has been heard from him since 2008. Still, for their following album Century Child (click on this link to read the review) we had the pleasure of the introduction of the excellent replacement and male vocalist in Marko Hietala.

The general theme of Wishmaster as a whole is one of fantasy and magic and there are plenty of examples here, liked Wanderlust, defined from German as a strong desire to travel. The song itself? There's certainly some aura of magic as well as rhythm to it I'll admit even though it's not one of my favourites from The 'Wish. Lyrically it's not bad, but really the music and pace are not doing any real justice for what should be a killer tune. However, I do like the opening track She Is My Sin continuing the fantasia theme, and certainly a deathbed memory, likewise the title track Wishmaster, for me a real head turner not to mention the obvious Lord Of The Rings references like Lorien and Elbereth. The beat's like listening to Ten Tudor Pole over again and is the best one in my opinion.

The wording in Kinslayer is an observation of the Columbine School Massacre from a few months earlier, another tune I also enjoy, but with a lump in my throat, given the upsurge in copycat gun incidents across the United States. And I guess it's time to appraise the songs which in my view are a little sub standard, Crownless, one of a few that Holopainen has written with guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, but the tempo and pace just feel a tad mismatched. Two For Tragedy is not a bad Turunen led number with good flutes accompanying the misty aura but takes a while before the song finds its firm ground, and it's the same for Deep Silent Complete, although I do like the switch in tempo, so it's a ever increasing thumb up there.

Very thought provoking and emotion wreaking in Dead Boy's Poem, as the said child intersperses with an oration with Turunen, it's a lot more chilling than I expected to be. Then rounding off the fantasy theme is Fanstasmic, with its endless Disney references (I counted six, but I'm sure there are twice as many), laced with some flute and spinet work. It's a concerted effort for all of its eight minutes and then closing Wishmaster is bonus track Sleepwalker, which actually was entered in A Song For Finland for the 2000 Eurovision, but beaten by "A Little Bit" by Nina Astrom. And while classified as Power Metal, it was seriously watered down for the continental audience, so much so that could you actually classify it as such?

Still, it's a solid effort from five twentysomethings who at this time had only been together as a entity for a couple of years, and on this occasion, Miss Tarja Turunen has done likewise a sterling job. My first real gripe is that she really is doing a lot of vocal on the album, small wonder at this time that Tuomas Holopainen was looking to bring in a full time male vocalist. The second is the tracks I've already mentioned that fall just a little short of the mark. Lyrically they're very mature and well thought out, and easy to say on hindsight but it would take the followup Century Child to elevate Nightwish onto the next level and present themselves as an act to be taken seriously.

6.5 out of ten. Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.
Best Track : Wishmaster (Title Track)

Buy Wishmaster here on Amazon
Listen to the album here on Spotify
Deezer listeners can click on this link here
Official Nightwish Website here
Click on this link for the Nightwish Official Facebook page

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