Rating:
7.6
Nightwish - Oceanborn
7 December 1998


01. Stargazers
02. Gethsemane
03. Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean
04. Sacrament Of Wilderness
05. Passion And The Opera
06. Swanheart
07. Moondance
08. The Riddler
09. The Pharaoh Sails To Orion
10. Walking In The Air [Howard Blake cover]
11. Nightquest [bonus]
12. A Return To The Sea [bonus]
13. Sleeping Sun [bonus]


Oceanborn - for many people the highlight of Nightwish's discography. This is a very hard album to review for me - I've had it for several years and I'm still not sure what I think about it. On some points Oceanborn is a masterpiece with ten points out of ten - I'll describe how first.

The material itself on this album is pure professionalism - song structures are all interesting and the only song I find to be bad is 'Swanheart' which always manages to bore me. Guitars are interesting, the keyboards are almost virtuoso and the performance is overall top notch. There's a lot of instrumental passages through the tracks which provide a lot; they take the music away from the deep, deep swamp of 'verse-bridge-refrain-repeat-solo-refrain-end'. I can't really find any tracks that are better than the others and for me there are no real hits here. That is the main reason why this album isn't perfect.

The music is the same throughout the most of the album. Even if the material is even and has a great touch of professionalism and quality, it doesn't give enough to me. In some way I would like the tracks to be much more varied. More ballads, an (almost mandatory) epic and a really catchy 'single' sure would've made me like this album more. Now most songs sound the same to me. Of course there are two great ballads - but they are placed in the end and thus feel like an outro. 'Walking In The Air' is just a cover.

I have some more points which my explain why my rating isn't higher too. Compared to later Nightwish albums the mix of the instruments is quite bad in some ways, even if the production is good. The keyboards are quite repetitive with harpsichord all the time and not much orchestral-like arrangements at all. The question here is - should you compare albums with each other? Of course, otherwise you have no frame of reference. I like Oceanborn a lot but I prefer 'Once' and 'Dark Passion Play', therefore I can't rate this album higher.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 7


Band profile: Nightwish
Album: Oceanborn


 


written by Spyroid | 07.07.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Collin

Rating:
10
It's always hard to be objective when you talk about one of your favourite bands.I can's pretend I am going to be objective here, because I like this band so much.

The most noticeable thing with Nightwish is that everything lays on Tarja Turunen's fragile shoulders. And as her voice is perfect, everything works, even better than on the first album Angels Fall First. Compared to this one, Oceanborn is heavier, more varied and has, of course, a better sound, and finally Tuomas Holopainen decided to stop singing (his voice scared me when I first heard Angels Fall First): he who writes everything, and has stunning keyboard sounds decided to let Tarja do the job.

Read more ››
published 18.09.2003 | Comments (22)

Guest review by
ErnilEnNaur

Rating:
9.1
Oceanborn. What's in a title? A lot. Purity and innocence are words that describe someone who is born in - or from - an ocean. There is a sweet innocence to Nightwish's 2nd album that can not be found in the later albums or on the previous one. "Dark Passion Play," "Nymphomaniac Fantasy," "She is my Sin," "Slaying the Dreamer" - what's in a title? That's not to say Oceanborn doesn't have its darker themes, too, they just aren't overwhelming. When I listen to the album as a whole, it is a solemn, but joyful experience. I get the feeling that Tuomas and the band really enjoyed making this album and made it for themselves. Back then, their music was still in the foreground and business was somewhere on the background, not even in clear focus. They didn't have the troubles and responsibilities they now carry, they were young and free.

Read more ››
published 24.04.2010 | Comments (16)



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4look4rd - 10.07.2008 at 16:58  
I love this album, but Wishmaster is far superior.... As you said this album lack "hit songs" and wishmaster is basically made of those (Title track, Kinslayer, She is my Sin, Wanderlust, Crowless, so on.)

But this is still one of my favorite albums of all times, I really hate all the symphonic crap that they added on later albums (I find it rather boring) and for me Century Child is the turning point in their music (tho I like it a lot, but cant stand later albums)
K†ulu - 15.07.2008 at 10:36  
Holy crap! When I saw the rating in the review section I thought I was gonna fall off the chair. Too few hits? OMG. I don't get you. What do you mean no hits? Are the songs crappy? I would bang my head on a live show to all these songs (even Swanheart and Walking In The Air ), and that would be just be enough. And I think it's better than Wishmaster or even other their album.
Spyroid - 15.07.2008 at 17:13  
Written by K†ulu on 15.07.2008 at 10:36

Holy crap! When I saw the rating in the review section I thought I was gonna fall off the chair. Too few hits? OMG. I don't get you. What do you mean no hits? Are the songs crappy? I would bang my head on a live show to all these songs (even Swanheart and Walking In The Air ), and that would be just be enough. And I think it's better than Wishmaster or even other their album.


I'm talking about songs like 'Nemo', 'Amaranth', 'Wishmaster', 'Wish I had an Angel', 'Dead to the World'... there really is no track like that for me on this album. Not said that the tracks aren't good, but I think albums with bands like Nightwish needs one or two really catchy 'singles' (as well as a ballad, a semiballad, and maybe also an epic) to feel variated. My problem with Oceanborn is that no tracks stand out, they're all one 'mess' that sound more or less the same.
But hey, 7,6 for a second album is not bad at all, there are not many bands that suceeded so good in their early days. In my book 5 should be average and everything above 6 is good. 7,6 is not far from 8 which means very good. And I think it's their best after the two latest albums.
Ellrohir - 15.07.2008 at 17:52  
Oceanborn is propably the best album by Nightwish...though it is hard to decide - everything by NW is great...7.6 seems low for me
muska - 18.07.2008 at 00:24  
i think anyone who listened to nightwish since the first album would say this is the best one, create a poll if you wish and you'll see, basically this is not a review but a personal opinion, more than that why do we need more than one thread about any album? and since when any metal albums were about hits? hits are apop culture and it's all about advertising - i think sacrament of wilderness would have been a massive hit if nightwish were that popular at the time. how can you call the album a mess and praise the latest one, that says alot about you, the only other person i've heard this from is my nephew, but he's 15 year old, what's your excuse?
Spyroid - 18.07.2008 at 00:36  
Written by muska on 18.07.2008 at 00:24

i think anyone who listened to nightwish since the first album would say this is the best one, create a poll if you wish and you'll see, basically this is not a review but a personal opinion, more than that why do we need more than one thread about any album? and since when any metal albums were about hits? hits are apop culture and it's all about advertising - i think sacrament of wilderness would have been a massive hit if nightwish were that popular at the time. how can you call the album a mess and praise the latest one, that says alot about you, the only other person i've heard this from is my nephew, but he's 15 year old, what's your excuse?


Okay first of all I don't care what other people think at all, this is probably their most popular album but so what? And second - reviews are personal opinions. Or what else should they be? If you by thread mean review - of course we need mutiple reviews if they are different. If were to buy an album and would like to check out some reviews before I bought it, I would've liked several different opinions to evaluate and not only one.
Since when are metal NOT about hits? Of course it's not important on some albums - both in metal and in other genres, but Nightwish is actually a quite pop oriented metal band and albums like Oceanborn sure needs one or two catchy songs. I also like that kind of albums to have semi ballads, maybe an epic track... - it's all about variation. What I mean about mess is that all songs are more or less the same in tempo or structure except the ballads that are put to the end which makes them feel like bonus tracks or something.
Am I right - you accuse be for being immature for liking a great, epic, variated album with loads of awesome symphonic metal more than an album that I find less professional and variated? That's just laughable.
Paradox0 - 26.12.2008 at 22:18  
Kind of weird. I would give the album a similar rating as you but strangely for the complete opposite reasons. Its the number of ballads which kind of bore me personally, although I'll admit its seems to be Tarja at her most natural. I thought Stargazers, devil and the deep dark ocean, passion and the opera (although it does get a little pretentious and boring towards the end) and greishi... are all about what makes Nightwish what they are. Perhaps the instrumentation isnt as "polished" as there following work, probably still holding onto a more power metalish formula at times, but it does have its interesting interplay between the instruments.
Uirapuru - 27.12.2008 at 19:07  
I agree a lot with the review.. of course its a good album, but it doesnt have any song that calls much attention, The Riddler is very good, but the rest is just easy to forget.. the songs do not stuck in your head.
I see lots of people who claim to love this album and consider it the best from Nightwish, but after listen to it they cant remember the lyrics or the rythm of any tracks.
Anyway, the rate looks fair and i agree with it, depite the problems that i see thats far from being a bad album, its just not a masterpiece as lots of people seem to think.
Spyroid - 27.12.2008 at 19:25  
Written by Uirapuru on 27.12.2008 at 19:07

I agree a lot with the review.. of course its a good album, but it doesnt have any song that calls much attention, The Riddler is very good, but the rest is just easy to forget.. the songs do not stuck in your head.
I see lots of people who claim to love this album and consider it the best from Nightwish, but after listen to it they cant remember the lyrics or the rythm of any tracks.
Anyway, the rate looks fair and i agree with it, depite the problems that i see thats far from being a bad album, its just not a masterpiece as lots of people seem to think.


Totally agree with everything there thanks for commenting!
K†ulu - 27.12.2008 at 19:28  
Written by Uirapuru on 27.12.2008 at 19:07

I agree a lot with the review.. of course its a good album, but it doesnt have any song that calls much attention, The Riddler is very good, but the rest is just easy to forget.. the songs do not stuck in your head.
I see lots of people who claim to love this album and consider it the best from Nightwish, but after listen to it they cant remember the lyrics or the rythm of any tracks.
Anyway, the rate looks fair and i agree with it, depite the problems that i see thats far from being a bad album, its just not a masterpiece as lots of people seem to think.

What about "The Gethsemane" and "Passion and the Opera?" Those two have amazing unforgettable riffs.
Uirapuru - 27.12.2008 at 19:45  
Written by K†ulu on 27.12.2008 at 19:28

What about "The Gethsemane" and "Passion and the Opera?" Those two have amazing unforgettable riffs


Gethsemane is a very good song, great keyboard work and a nice interlude with a flute (or its Tarja's voice in an amazing tone ) but after the 3rd minute it gets boring and i just skip it.
About ''Passion and the Opera'', i didnt like it so much, despite being the most ''epic'' song in the album. Its really about my taste, im not really a huge fan of the band, and i dont know why i prefer their last albuns instead of the worshiped Oceanborn. What i search when i listen to Nightwish is an epic catchy song, easy to find in some other works.
Elio - 29.12.2008 at 22:16  
Written by Uirapuru on 27.12.2008 at 19:45

Written by K†ulu on 27.12.2008 at 19:28

What about "The Gethsemane" and "Passion and the Opera?" Those two have amazing unforgettable riffs


Gethsemane is a very good song, great keyboard work and a nice interlude with a flute (or its Tarja's voice in an amazing tone ) but after the 3rd minute it gets boring and i just skip it.


same here...but the first three minutes are amazing!
Assassiyoun - 12.05.2009 at 09:24  
Is a lack of hits explain to give 7.6 to an album when you said that the album is pure professionalism and all the songs are interesting except Swanheart ? It's not because you find no tracks better than another you must give away a 2.4 points. On the contrary, if all tracks are good although none stands out this a proof that this album is a masterpiece or at least very good.

You said at the beginning "Guitars are interesting, the keyboards are almost virtuoso and the performance is overall top notch. There's a lot of instrumental passages through the tracks which provide a lot", but at the end you said "Compared to later Nightwish albums the mix of the instruments is quite bad in some ways, even if the production is good. The keyboards are quite repetitive with harpsichord all the time and not much orchestral-like arrangements at all." I don't see the logic in your review Spyroid. It's ok if you give a 7.6 if you don't like the album, I understand that, but don't contradict yourself to explain why.

P.S. In my point of view, the album itself is a hit. All the songs are excellent except maybe Swanheart...and Nightquest and A Return To The Sea are just not so bad, but these ones are bonus songs after all. I give a 9!
Spyroid - 13.05.2009 at 21:37  
Written by Assassiyoun on 12.05.2009 at 09:24

Is a lack of hits explain to give 7.6 to an album when you said that the album is pure professionalism and all the songs are interesting except Swanheart ? It's not because you find no tracks better than another you must give away a 2.4 points. On the contrary, if all tracks are good although none stands out this a proof that this album is a masterpiece or at least very good.

You said at the beginning "Guitars are interesting, the keyboards are almost virtuoso and the performance is overall top notch. There's a lot of instrumental passages through the tracks which provide a lot", but at the end you said "Compared to later Nightwish albums the mix of the instruments is quite bad in some ways, even if the production is good. The keyboards are quite repetitive with harpsichord all the time and not much orchestral-like arrangements at all." I don't see the logic in your review Spyroid. It's ok if you give a 7.6 if you don't like the album, I understand that, but don't contradict yourself to explain why.

P.S. In my point of view, the album itself is a hit. All the songs are excellent except maybe Swanheart...and Nightquest and A Return To The Sea are just not so bad, but these ones are bonus songs after all. I give a 9!


First of all - is 7,6 really a bad rating? "7,6 because you don't like the album" - I never said I didn't?
My point, which obviously wasn't explained good enough (pretty hard when you have a limited amount of words to use + English) - all tracks have good parts and are well written by good musicians, but they don't catch me. I am impressed by the album because of theese reasons, and after listening to the album I have more good feelings and thoughts than bad ones. But there's no particular song I directly want to listen to again.

I dont' see the contradictions? The guitars and keyboards are well performed, and the song structures are improved by the instrumental passages. The sound of the instruments are good, but sometimes the guitar is too much in the background, the keyboard arrangements are repetitive even if they're well written, in example. Compared to Once e.tc.

I hope you like some of my other reviews better ^^
/Spyroid
Assassiyoun - 14.05.2009 at 23:47  
The only contradiction is when you said that the instrumentation on the album is pure professionnalism and at the end you said the instrumentation is "quite bad in some ways compare to the other albums" and "The keyboards are quite repetitive with harpsichord all the time and not much orchestral-like arrangements at all." It's not my description of "pure professionalism". But in some ways, you're right it's not really a contradiction. It depends on the interpretation we do. And yes, you have not said you dislike this album on the contrary. My bad. It's just that the lacks of "big hits" isn't for me a good reason to lower a rating. I mean by that all the songs are quite good compared to others albums of Nightwish where there are some hits but there's also very ordinary songs. I prefer this one for this reason ; there are no ordinary songs. (except Swanheart ) But this is my opinion and I understand yours.

P.S. Sorry if I don't post for the reviews of you that I agree with because there is simply nothing to add in this case. I don't dislike your reviews at all, I assure you.
Spyroid - 18.05.2009 at 18:49  
Written by Assassiyoun on 14.05.2009 at 23:47

The only contradiction is when you said that the instrumentationalbum is pure professionnalism and at the end you said the instrumentation is "quite bad in some ways compare to the others albums" and "The keyboards are quite repetitive with harpsichord all the time and not much orchestral-like arrangements at all." It's not my description of "pure professionalism". But in some ways, you're right it's not really a contradiction it depends of the interpretation we do. And yes, you have not said you dislike this album on the contrary. My bad. It's just that the lacks of "big hits" isn't for me a good reason to lower a rating. I mean by that all the songs are quite good compared to others albums of Nightwish where there's some hits but there's also very ordinary songs. I prefer this one for this reason ; there's no ordinary songs. (except Swanheart ) But it's my opinion and I understand yours.

P.S. Sorry if I don't post for the reviews I agree because there's nothing to add in this case. I don't dislike your reviews at all, I assure you.


My point is that they master they instruments great - pure professionalism, but compared to the later albums the musicianship is more... repetive, and haven't developed a total maturity. Interpretation is hard, especially when you're dealing with a guy like me who doesn't speak English everyday
I don't prefer Century Child or Wishmaster before this album - they have more hits but also more mundande songs. This album is very even, but that can also be boring in one way - the songs are somehow too much alike. At least to my ears - a "Whishmaster" or "Nemo" would add a lot, and I don't find that kind of track on this album. Thanks anyway for commenting, I hope you find some reviews of mine that you agree with aswell! But I understand, it's funnier to comment on reviews you don't agree with ;P
ErnilEnNaur - 10.11.2010 at 06:09  
The last thing a Nightwish album needs is commercial "catchy" singles. Amaranth, Nemo, Wish I had an angel, Bye Bye Beautiful, (the butchered version of) Bless The Child are all useless. The fact that Oceanborn doesn't have songs that are designed to sell the album is what makes it so great. It's the only Nightwish album that doesn't have massive amounts of filler on it, pure songwriting and inspiration from beginning to end.

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