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Nightwish - Century Child

Nightwish -  CD Review
Century Child
CD Info
Spinefarm Records
10 tracks + 1 ‘hidden’
English lyrics

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 it’s almost like shunting several blocks of plutonium into the same space. The result is an explosion of sound, and harnessed by Tuomas, it’s 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 don’t want the space in their auditory canals to be polluted by testosterone-fuelled bellowing when listening to a Nightwish CD. Personally, I can’t 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 it’s better. No, I haven’t 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, I’m a little dubious about the Phantom Of The Opera cover, because it’s 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 they’re loved for, and on this album they’ve 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 Nightwish’s finest hour. The heaviest song on the album is by far Slaying The Dreamer, which is Tuomas’s way of saying, "Look! I can do heavier shit! You thought The Pharoah Sails To Orion didn’t cut it, well check this!" Still, it’s a little hard to associate the growls with Nightwish because it’s 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 Marco’s voice fits in perfectly. It’s nice to have a little addition on this album, something extra. However, his voice isn’t 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 wasn’t wrong. Marco isn’t 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 wouldn’t like one iota of innovation to scratch the surface of their beloved band’s sound. Well, tough, it’s happened now, so you’re 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 won’t pleasure every listener in microwave-quick time, but that’s all for the better. Stick it on, listen and appreciate. Power metal has never had it so good.