Released: 2002, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Well, Nightwish´s new album titled CENTURY CHILD must be one of those albums people have so eagerly been waiting for hectically like the last candies from your local delicatessen shop – and as far as the numbers of the album´s pre-selling (21.000 thousands units just in 2 hours… -unfuckin´believeable!!!) can be any prove of all that, then I bet the band will be reaching the selling of 100.000 copies worldwide in less than no time.
The other thing is of course the music on the very disc that raised a hell of a lot controversy amongst the fans in advance. Many rumors were surrounding them, saying that Nightwish would have chosen a whole different path musically even by sharing vocals with a male singer – and this forth-coming output from ´the wish camp´ could be quite a lot of weaker and less of that classic Nightwish -sound we had used to hear from them earlier compared to their superb last two albums, OCEANBORN and WISHMASTER. And then these rumors… well, some of them made some sense, definitely, but you can clearly recognize that it´s still Nightwish; a darker, heavier, more powerful and more symphonic Nightwish than what you may have heard from them before. And for me personally, their 4th studio album, CENTURY CHILD is THE BEST album they have recorded thus far. Just A LOT of heavier and darker than any of its predecessors, and having two of the best metal vocalists from the whole Finnish metal scene doing a fistful of miracles on this fantastic album. Those who have always adored Tarja´s operatic voice more than anything, may find the album slightly disappointing ´coz she doesn´t do her distinctive operatic singing that strongly on the songs any longer, but is more like ´singing´ now and basically using her voice on a whole new level. She´s got a slightly warmer, more sensitive and softer tone in her voice and I really happen to like her vocal parts on CENTURY CHILD. As for Marco´s (also the vocalist in the legendary Finnish Heavy Metal band called Tarot – Luxi!) contribution as a male voice on this album, he did a great job; sounding truly amazing on such songs as “Dead to the World”, “Feel for You” and “The Phantom of the Opera”. Many, apparently the most devoted Nightwish –fans, have already criticized them for not sounding Nightwish that much any more due to Marco´s involvement as a male vocalist on the album, but since I have personally loved his voice, I think his vocal parts brought a really welcome contrast to the wholeness. He simply keeps on amazing me every time when opens his golden throat on these particular purposes, so I´m definitely not one of those who think it´s only Tarja´s privilege to sing her lungs out in Nightwish. Marco has proved to be an extraordinary amazing vocalist on CENTURY CHILD and therefore I do hope Tuomas and c/o don´t hesitate to use his skills in their future releases as well…
As for the songs on CENTURY CHILD, the 1st two songs, “Bless the Child” and “”End of All World”, are pure Nightwish songs the way we have used to hear from them earlier, i.e. pretty much orchestrated, heavy, pompously beautiful, majestically growing - and ah, soooo… powerful that it makes you wonder where all that ´extra´ heaviness for this album comes from exactly. But I bet everyone of you are capable of hearing that it´s still all the way Nightwish even if a heavier approach has truly been taken musically on this album.
“Dead to the World” introduced Marko as a 2nd vocalist as I stated here earlier and the song itself belongs to one of my fave cuts off CENTURY CHILD for sure due to beautifully matching vocal parts both from Tarja and Marco. They even do a nice duet in the later part of the song and it works out just splendidly in my opinion.
The first single off CENTURY CHILD, titled “Ever Dream” brings Tarja´s singing abilities to the spotlight and she still proves to be the same good´n´ol´ (well, NOT old in a true sense of the word, -he!) Tarja who became famous in Nightwish´s ANGELS FALL FIRST because of her unique, operatic singing style and it was surely something new and innovative at that time. Overall a great song as a single and has already reached a magical gold status here in Finland which means 10.000 sold copies. Metal music is doing somewhat good in this country, so everybody, feel free to envy us because of that.
“Slaying the Dreamer” is a hard nut to be broken as it represents the darkest and heaviest corner of Tuomas´ song writing skills. The song itself is a very ´anti-Nightwish´ song as far as the last two minutes of it goes. It doesn´t sound Nightwish at all in the first place. In fact, first it sounds a bit like Slayer at their heaviest; then the final ending of it brings some Cradle of Filth´s symphonic horror parts in my mind for some strange reason. It´s safe to say that it´s a bit weird and odd as a Nightwish tune, but still I like it very much due to its more experimental yet heavier approach in it. Funny that this song particularly has been a true spittoon for many Nightwish –fans who have preferred their two previous classic works OCEANBORN and WISHMASTER to this new one. Like they couldn´t handle a screaming difference of this song at all. Oh well, never mind… probably their loss – definitely not Nightwish´s.
“Forever Yours” is the only ballad they have recorded to this new album and probably is a welcome gift for some of you amongst the heavy sound this album holds inside itself. Such a cutie as a song, but kind of doesn´t melt my metal heart as some of you may think. Sugar is sugar – and I´m more into bitter tastes in music. Deal with it!
“Ocean Soul” and “Feel For You” are both sinfully catchy and beautiful tunes from beginning to end – done in a true Nightwish –fashion and staying loyal to the heavier edges of the album. One will surely note that a guitar sound on these songs is quite a lot heavier than what we have normally used to hear from ´the wish team´. Also the latter mentioned song has an extraordinary dark atmosphere haunting behind it which makes it even more fascinating and it´s damn well orchestrated as well.
“The Phantom of the Opera”, originally composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is the 2nd cover song in order Nightwish have recorded and it fits amazingly well to the atmosphere of this particular album; definitely a lot better if they would have tried to fit it in one of their 1st three previous albums. Here it has found its place as a part of the wholeness and it does enough justice to the original version as well in my honest opinion. Both Tarja and Marco do again ear-tickling job at the vocal department. The final laps of this song are pretty damn wild and kind of restless at the same time as a matter of speaking.
As for things overly ´epic´, “Beauty of the Beast” offers you a few terrific breath-taking moments reaching the length of over 10 minutes; being a monstrous cavalcade of great symphonic harmonies, building up mountains and basically giving Tuomas tons of credit as a hell of a song writer and composer. Without a doubt, I would like to see Tuomas writing more similar kind of songs – or if I can do some ´nightwishing´, I would allow him to write a whole album with a classical orchestra behind him ´coz the man is an obvious genius in understanding and expressing those the deepest feelings of a highly emotional and atmospheric music. In “Beauty of the Beast” he has shown his skills and gifts more than well and I bet he can consider himself as somewhat a proud man particularly conjuring up all these elements around this tune. “Beauty of the Beast” is such a great closer tune of this album, too – leaving you such a good feeling about the album that you would like to put it on and on after one round´s over. More similar stuff to “Beauty of the Beast” on the next album please – and I would be happy to my gums.
No doubt, this is the very album from Nightwish that you´ll either love or hate. And since all of you have already read my personal manifestation about it here, I suggest all of you to do the same favor for each of you. CENTURY CHILD has truly seen the light of day as far as the best Nightwish album is concerned in my honest opinion. So, try to beat that wussies…!! ;=)