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CD Review: Nightwish – Highest Hopes: The Best of Nightwish

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If you’ve led a sheltered life of Libertines records and Arctic Monkeys gigs, you might be surprised to learn that “operatic metal” is actually a real genre, rather than simply a Spinal Tap-esque joke. If it were a joke, however, Finland’s Nightwish would be the punchline. Don’t laugh too soon though; they’ve sold a not-insignificant two and a half million albums world-wide, and their frontwoman is almost the Scandinavian Posh Spice, having appeared on the covers of over twenty magazines back home in the last eighteen months.

So how have they got to such a stage in their career that warrants a cash-cow ‘best of’ set without registering on the radar of discerning music fans such as yourselves? Well, the idea of operatic metal is like a caviar and beef jerky sandwich. One is classy and sophisticated, the other is favoured by rednecks and wife-beaters. Individually, they’re both fine in their own way, but combined they’re rather unpalatable.

Leaving behind the culinary-based grounds for disliking this album though, there’s a much simpler reason – it’s more pretentious than the existential ramblings of a philosophy student’s diary. As they chug through their power-chord interpretation of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, it’s evident that this is their attempt at being “authentic”. Obviously no-one’s told them it’s from an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical – you’d never catch Metallica doing that. The twiddly-widdly guitar solos somehow sound more Riverdance than Satriani, while you half expect a talking snowman to jump out of nowhere during a rocked-up ‘Walking In the Air’.

There’s no change when it comes to the self-penned songs either. While all the fan favourites are here, little more than two tracks sound like they could be the ‘best of’ anybody’s back catalogue, let alone that of Finland’s musical shining light. To be fair though, it must be tough being a Finn. When the only homegrown music they’ve got to choose from is fellow countrymen HIM and The Rasmus, it’s easy to see how pompous neo-classical wailings were the best of a bad bunch.

More reviews and articles like this on my music blog Bloody Awful Poetry.

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About Jonathan

  • TBJ

    Is this a positive or negative review? I couldn’t really tell!

    I do agree with Nightwish being pompous and extravagant but the music is well-played and well-sung..two characteristics lacking in American Music today.

  • http://jonathan-d.blogspot.com Jonathan

    Well, I try not to write purely “positive” or “negative” reviews, instead attempting to give both good and bad points. However, on a personal level I absolutely hated this!

    As for Christmas presents (assuming that was directed at me!), I’m hoping Santa is going to bring me a copy of the Motely Crue book “The Dirt”. ;-)

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Clearly you’re not a fan, and neither am I. But like TBJ I’d have to say I have a certain respect for their musical ability.

    Oh and there’s plenty of good Finnish music to choose from – Children of Bodom, Sentenced, Kalmah, Sonata Arctica, Norther etc. Perhaps you mean only in the mainstream, which is full of low-grade banality in most countries anyway.