Nightwish: Angels Fall First

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Nightwish: Angels Fall First
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Nightwish: Angels Fall First
Operatic Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Century Media Records, Spinefarm Records
May 29th, 2000
Release length: 51:43
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Originally, Angels Fall First was made available as a hand numbered lot of five hundred copies, but eventually made it’s way to mass production, and then found it’s way to the USA. Many, to this day, proclaim this release to be Nightwish‘s finest hour, which in some cases it’s true. Angels Fall First is a great first full-length release, but does it really live up to all the praise it has been receiving?

When you really sit down and look at Angels Fall First, it’s a superbly composed album that brings in a slight hint of opera through the progression of the album. The way the songs progress, and the vocals used through most, it becomes clear that this is meant to be somewhat of a conceptual piece, taking lyrics from J.R.R. Tolkien lore and other fantastical material to weave some interesting tracks that sometimes come with unimpressive spoken word passages and uninspiring duets. “Elvenpath” does a great job at kicking off the album on a very strong note with a highly energetic track and amazing clean operatic vocals. It’s just sad that the album will so quickly shift, as “Beauty of the Beast” is a little too drawn out and features some deep narration, as if the speaker is possessed, which does fit the music at all. There’s also some weak male vocals that come into play during the slow, ballad/duet track “The Carpenter.” This is easily the weakest track off the album, featuring nothing impressive at all, as well as some extremely simple keyboard notes that seem to randomly appear in the background for what seems to be no reason.

The overall tone of the album is really set by the heavier tracks that focus more on solo singing, such as the aforementioned “Elvenpath”, as well as the “Angels Fall First”, and the very Egyptian meets elvish-ambience “Tutankhamen,” that best display the abilities this band has to make a traditionally built Metal track a more epic yard through storytelling and operatic backgrounds. The only problem with this is that there are plenty of slower paced songs on here that simply just don’t stack up against these over-the-top entries. The only one on here that moves at a slower pace that could fall into the group would be the closing “Lappi” four track opus, which isn’t that bad, but can become a bit boring after a while due to it’s pace and simple acoustic guitar chords, leaving things a bit of a blunder no matter how dramatic they try to make it.

It is clear that Nightwish have what it takes to push the boundaries of Metal with this release, but, sadly, Angels Fall First is not all that impressive. Nightwish seems to try to build an epic setting to their music, but all the while utilizing many simplicities that hold the album down. From the lackluster backing male vocals, to the bland early learning guitar curve chords, this effort winds up relying on one thing: The operatic vocals of Tarja Turunen. This is the only stand out element to the group outside of the harder, faster paced tracks that seem to be rather non-existent. Had Angels Fall First been comprised of more tracks like “Elvenpath” or “Tutankhamen”, and less like “The Carpenter”, then this review would have gone a completely different way. But, instead, much of the album comes off as dull thanks to the band trying to incorporate too many generic fantastical elements into a ground breaking idea.

01. Elvenpath – 4:40
02. Beauty and the Beast – 6:24
03. The Carpenter – 5:58
04. Astral Romance – 5:13
05. Angels Fall First – 5:34
06. Tutankhamen – 5:32
07. Nymphomaniac Fantasia – 4:47
08. Know Why the Nightingale Sings – 4:14
09. Lappi (Lapland) I: Erämaajärvi – 2:15
10. Lappi (Lapland) II: Witchdrums – 1:19
11. Lappi (Lapland) III: This Moment Is Eternity – 3:12
12. Lappi (Lapland) IV: Etiäinen – 2:34
Overall Score: 4.5/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.