Released: 2006, Universal Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
This CD was released in Europe last year in an expanded two-disc/DVD set but the domestic release sees one CD dropped and a greatly trimmed three-song bonus DVD tacked on as compensation. Did we get a raw deal? Hell, yes! Also, this package will signal the end of Nightwish Version 1.0 with the out-of-left-field firing of vocalist Tarja Turunen soon after its release. This shocked many longtime fans and if the news wires are to believed, this coup d'état was akin to a national tragedy for the Finnish people.
For what it’s worth, HIGHEST HOPES: THE BEST OF NIGHTWISH is a solid compendium package that dutifully covers the band’s entire six album career, with an unreleased Pink Floyd cover and a re-recorded version of “Sleeping Sun” tacked on. ANGELS FALL FIRST is only showcased with one song and CENTURY CHILD, the band’s breakthrough album, is a bit narrowly represented but with only 80 minutes available to cover six albums and nearly ten years, complaints have to be reeled in to some degree. Having “The Kinslayer,” “Nemo,” “Walking In The Air” and “Bless The Child” all in one place is a no-brainer purchase and while the DVD, featuring three tracks culled from the band’s 2003 performance at the Mera Luna Festival in Germany, is hardly threatening to THE END OF INNOCENCE DVD, I suppose it might be added incentive to get fans to shell out the coin for this collection.
One complaint is that it would have better to sequence the tracks chronologically to hear the band’s evolution from a cheesy Gothic band with an operatic diva-in-the-making vocalist (see “Stargazers”) to a more well-rounded power metal band with less histrionics and the addition of Marco Hietala on vocals to off-set Turunen’s often-overbearing presence (“Dead To The World”).
Bottom line: fans who already have all the Nightwish albums can probably skip HIGHEST HOPES: THE BEST OF NIGHTWISH because there isn’t much extra-wise to justify buying the songs again, but for first time visitors to the Nightwish realm, this is an excellent place to get your feet wet.