Following up an epic watershed such as Oceanborn
would be a difficult feat for any band. Nevertheless, Nightwish
came back two years with a brand new offering that came kicking and screaming into the world at the turning of the millennium: it's name was Wishmaster
Coming off of that high of the previous album, expectations are high. However, it is too clear from the first note of "She is My Sin
" that this album has more in common with mid-paced fair such as "The Riddler" than the more epic, fast-paced tracks of Oceanborn
's not to say that it's all downpaced: it picks up around the fourth track, "Wanderlust", carrying on into the bombastic title track (also being the second and, to date, last time that Tuomas would dive into the world of Arda
for lyrical inspiration), and concluding with an eight minute epic which draws lyrical inspiration from the most unlikely source one could cOnce
ive of in heavy metal: Walt Disney. No, you didn't misread that: "FantasMic" wears its Disney cliches and youthful exuberance proudly like a mouse-eared head-cap. For all those who derogatorily called Imaginaerum
"that Scrooge McDuck album", good luck explaining away "apprentice of Yen Sid."
Which brings us to one of two personal standouts for yours truly on this album. The first being the mid-paced Emppu composition "Come Cover Me", a provocative, if less ostentatious, companion-piece to "Passion and the Opera
". The second being what could very well be the single Nightwish
song that both perfectly spells out the musical mission of the band, while serving as the thematic anchor between the beloved first and maligned second eras of the band. That
, of course, being "Dead
Boy's Poem." The line "so much to live for, so much to die for" serves as a fitting epithet and statement of intent for Nightwish
: a band that recreates the nostalgic feeling of childhood wonder (where even "FantasMic" finds a welcome). Tarja
's dark vocal tone, as present here as on Oceanborn
, takes on a motherly quality: lamenting the loss of the Dead
Boy, taken before his time, still untouched by the evils of the world (as exemplified by "Kinslayer", one of the two weakest points of the album).
All told, this album is more of a grower than a shower: an uneven yet powerful third helping from a band that, like the Dead
Boy, had much more to offer the world. It would not be long, however, before the Finnish quintet showed us just what more they could give us.