Nightwish - Century Child


Year of Release: 2003
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8189-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:15:00

Century Child is Nightwish's 2002 release, issued for the first time in the US last September via Century Media (as of this writing, their new album, Once, is due in June). And yes, I did think of some clever way to tie in the Century of the label with the Century of the title, but thought better of it. Nevertheless, if you have enjoyed Nightwish of the past ? I'm only familiar with Wishmaster, I think you will enjoy Century Child. Because often my first dozen or so listens happen at work, I rarely look at the tracklisting or at the booklet (not that I never do, but rarely while I'm working) unless something catches my ear. In this case, it was their rendition of the Andrew Lloyd Weber classic ? and yes, I think we can justifiably call it a classic ? "The Phantom Of The Opera." Now, just a brief (really) side note ? long before I saw the play, I was listening to the original cast recording and fell in love with the music. Hate me if you want, but I did, and do. Especially this track, as it's a powerful statement. So, how do Nightwish do with it? Mostly fairly well. While Tarja Turunen does a good job with the Christine part of "Phantom," for my ears, Marco Hietala just doesn't have the right kind of voice for the Phantom? and it's not because I think only Michael Crawford could do it, but a deeper voice just seems to work best. Here the voice is too "metal" for my tastes? It's not bad, but for me, is lacking something. Elsewhere, he sounds a bit like Geoff Tate, a voice that you would think give us convincing Phantom (which has been repurposed for the concept here, though the lyrics haven't changed that I can tell).

So then, the rest of the album. What we get are the high, sweet vocals of Turunen backed by a driving classically-influenced background of Tuomas Holopainen on keys and piano, Jukka Nevalainen on drums, Emmpu Vuorinen on guitars and Hietala on bass and vocals. Turunen vocals are at once sweet and haunting, and I do quite like the way she sings. And the music that surrounds the voice is very good ? a nice balance of guitars, drums/percussion and keyboards ? as you know, I sometimes find the keyboards placed oddly out of the mix, not so here. All this combines to create a beautiful power metal release that eases into your ears quite easily. There are some lovely passages throughout, the whole album played with an epic feel. There's no question why this band is held in high regard.

Turunen's gutsiest (versus lilting) performance is on "Slaying The Dreamer." It is, perhaps the beefiest instrumental performance as well, guitarist Emppu Vourinen's guitar screaming out a brief leads, while drums and bass stomp out a chugging beat ("Phantom?" comes a close second). There's even a bit of deathish/thrashy vocals here, too, from Hietala? a bit diabolical, this passage. It is followed by the mellowest moment, "Forever Yours," which is something you might expect to find on? well, lets say something Celine Dion might sing, though Turunen isn't (thankfully) quite so over the top; or perhaps Enya, without being quite so ethereal. There is a tin whistle in the mix, which only add to the Celticness to this piece, though I really wouldn't call it Celtic. It's a nice, airey piece so unlike the tracks that come before it, which are, in comparison to "Slaying?" and "Forever?" mid-tempo metal numbers ? mid-tempo for metal that is, don't expect a rock beat.

One track that works the best overall for me is that that closes the album, "Beauty Of The Beast" (at 10:22 it's also the longest, truly making it an epic). In fact, I wish the whole album had this quality, as it is here that all the elements come together and in the right balance. It is a powerful track that doesn't draw that power from trying to pound it into you ? though you do get your share of double bassing, driving guitar leads, and the classiest string-like keyboard phrases. Turunen's lilting voice has an added richness here, that seems most natural for her. That the higher lilt of other tracks is, while easy for her to reach, not where her voice seems most comfortable (you can tell it wants to drop down a bit, not that it is distracting or detracting).

So, what we get is an album that sounds great, but in the end? I feel there's something missing. Not so much because it's not as direct (musically and lyrically) as the previous album ? it's true that there are more subtleties here. It's hard to say just what it is, but it's something that keeps this album, for me, just shy of being stellar. A lot of bands have trouble managing something this good, so really we're talking about why it is a 4 not a 5. It's one of those albums you like, may play more than just occasionally, and one you'd recommend to fans of the band and of the genre, but unlikely to be at the top of an all-time favourites list (probably in the lower 10 or 15, though).

Spinefarm (2002, (cat no. 149)) released a 2-CD special edition that included an additional Video-CD containing the "Over The Hills And Far Away"-video. Plus, there was (now expired) links to 3 bonus tracks.


Tracklisting:
Bless The Child (6:12) / End Of All Hope (3:54) / Dead To The World (4:19) / Ever Dream (4:43) / Slaying The Dreamer (4:31) / Forever Yours (3:51) / Ocean Soul (4:14) / Feel For You (3:54) / The Phantom Of The Opera (4:09) / Beauty Of The Beast: Long Lost Love - One More Night To Live - Christabel (10:22)

Musicians:
Tarja Turunen - vocals
Tuomas Holopainen - keys and piano
Emmpu Vuorinen - guitars
Marco Hietala - bass and vocals

Guests:

Joenssu City Orchestra, lead by Juha Ikonen
Choir - choir master - Hilkka Kangasniemi
orchestral percussion - Mongo Aaltoinen
Kristiina Ilmonen - tin whistle (6)
Sam Hardwick - Dead Boy's voice
Orchestra, choir and percussion arranged, orchestrated and produced by Veijo Laine and Riku Niemi, conducted by Riku Niemi

Discography:
Angels Fall First (1997)
Oceanborn (1998)
Wishmaster (2000)
Wishmastour 2000 (2000)
Over The Hills And Far Away (ep) (2001)
From Wishes To Eternity (FI only) (2001) Century Child (2002)
Once (2004)
Tales From The Elvenpath (2004)
Bestwishes (2005)
Highest Hopes: The Best Of Nightwish (2005)
End Of An Era (2006)
Dark Passion Play (2007)
The Sound Of Nightwish Reborn (2008)
Made In Hong Kong (2009)
Imaginaerum (2011)
Walking In The Air: The Greatest Ballads (2011)
Imaginaerum: The Score (2012)
Showtime, Storytime (2013)
Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015)
Vehicle Of Spirit (2016)
Decades (2018*)

From Wishes To Eternity (DVD/VID) (2001)
End Of Innocence (DVD) (2003)
End Of An Era (DVD) (2006)
Made In Hong Kong (DVD) (2009) Imaginaerum (DVD/BR) (2011)
Showtime, Storytime (DVD/BR) (2013)
Vehicle Of Spirit (DVD/BR) (2016)
*expected

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FI

Added: May 2nd 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.nightwish.com
Hits: 1249
Language: english

  

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