What do you get when a songwriter with a taste for the dramatic (and occasionally the nerdy) forms a heavy metal band featuring an incredibly talented opera-trained female vocalist, and then you back them up with a full orchestra? The awesome that is Nightwish.
Angels Fall First
- What better track to start than Elvenpath, with its spoken intro and sudden drum and tempo pattern changes. Not to mention Tarja's powerful operistic singing in the chorus.
- The original version of "Astral Romance". A memorable opening riff and that sudden change into Spoken Word in Music preceded by Tarja's One-Woman Wail... which she keeps doing during the speaking.
- The beautiful acoustic "Angels Fall First", which is basically Tarja's voice over an acoustic guitar (the intended original version of the band itself)... right down until the scary Last Note Nightmare where dramatic keyboards are added onto the mix.
- "Stargazers" launches into an excellent classic album with a glorious riff and just gets better.
- "Sacrament of Wilderness". There's a reason it made the band famous in Europe that early on.
- "Passion And The Opera", which closes with Tarja's One-Woman Wail.
- "Moondance". A constantly changing instrumental which goes from midtempo to calm to frenetic to midtempo. It could have very well been the album's opener.
- "The Riddler". A very catchy song with a nice opener in the form of a keyboard riff coupled with Tarja's operistic voice. You won't be able to get that song out of your head for months.
- The album has the prototype in the dark "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion", which is a good minute longer than any other song on the album and features a lot of tempo/key changes, some of which are also accompanied by band roadie (and future Finntroll singer) Tapio Wilska's darker voices.
- The band's version of "Walking In The Air". A neat slow tempo song with several flute passages coupled with several choruses featuring Tarja's voice and the song's classic riff.
- Originally just a bonus track, "Sleeping Sun", another slow tempo similar to "Walking..." though by no means less awesome.
- "Nightquest", the B-Side of the Walking In The Air single and a bonus track on a few releases of the album. You can't make out a word of what Tarja's saying if you don't have the lyrics in front of you, (and it doesn't even leave space for Mondegreen) but it still has an awesome intro that you will do air guitar to.
- The tragic yet heavy "The Kinslayer", bordering on Mood Whiplash, considering the subject. Tuomas' keyboards and Emppu's riffs however seal the deal.
- The dramatic "Come Cover Me", with its uncommon lyric structure and beautiful keyboards.
- "Wishmaster". Anything with the same riffs is badass!
- "Dead Boy's Poem" is an awesome Tear Jerker.
- The album closer, "FantasMic", is the first truly epic song at just over 8 minutes and the climax of the album. Best part? It's a tribute to Disney movies.
- "End of All Hope". Bonus epic points for the segue from "Bless the Child" to "End of All Hope".
- "Ever Dream", the catchiest song of the album. It starts slow and soft but becomes more and more intense as it progresses. Its live version on Wacken 2013 with Floor Jansen as vocalist amplifies the epicness Up to Eleven!
- The Phantom of the Opera is Awesome Music all on its own. Know what makes it even better? A kick-ass heavy metal cover, is what.
- The Grand Finale "Beauty of the Beast", coinciding with their shift into a more operatic style.
- "Dark Chest of Wonders". If you're ever on a boat, this song will get stuck in your head. Doubly so if you're a fan of Fraxy.
- "Planet Hell" was always a very powerful song. Specially this passage:The first rock / Thrown again! / Welcome to Hell little Saint! / Mother Gaia / In slaughter! / Welcome to paradise, soldier!My First cry / Neverending / All life is to fear for Life! You fool / You wanderer / You challenged the Gods and Lost!
- "Creek Mary's Blood" as well.
- "Romanticide". A nice heavy, fast-paced song with such an amazing guitar solo!
- "Ghost Love Score" deserves a mention.
- The End of an Era live video: Over-the-top and dramatic? Perhaps. Awesome? Oh yes.
- Audiosurf fans, take note: "Ghost Love Score" makes the best Marathon Level, especially for Ninja Mono.
- The instrumental version is epic as well.
- Any time Floor Jansen sings it. Literally any time. Even the band's notorious Unpleasable Fanbase generally agree that it's basically become her Signature Song since she took over vocal duties.
Dark Passion Play
- "The Poet and the Pendulum". A lot of fans think this is Tuomas' Awesome Song thus far. and it's not a surprise why. This song was even featured in a trailer for Risen!
- "Bye Bye Beautiful" is an excellent Take That! at their former vocalist.
- Amaranth is absolutely beautiful, and the pitch-bending stuff Anette does with her voice in the chorus is a wonder to listen to.
- "Cadence of Her Last Breath" is what happens when you ask the band to create a song In the Style of... Rammstein.
- And then there's "Master Passion Greed". Song also would make for a kickass boss fight theme. And the instrumental version is even better.
- "Whoever Brings the Night" was so epic, it got its instrumental version put in as boss battle music for LittleBigPlanet 2.
- "Last of the Wilds" is pretty kickass.
- Howl! 7 days to the wolves!
- "Meadows of Heaven" does, as well.
- Dark Passion Play was also released in an instrumental-only version. At times, it's arguably better than the original, with examples such as the aforementioned "Amaranth" and "Sahara" standing above the rest.
- "Storytime". Proof that Anette belongs in Nightwish.
- The already awesome "Ghost River" and "Rest Calm" are taken to another level when the choirs arrive.
- Even the '30s jazz song "Slow, Love, Slow". Yes, Nightwish does jazz — and it is awesome!
- "Scaretale". Whoo mama. From the nightmarish nursery rhyme opening to Annette's witchy vocals on the terrifying verses... Excellence!
- "Last Ride of the Day" and that sweet and catchy chorus:Once upon a midnight, we'll wake to the carnival of life
This beauty of humanity, such an incredible time,
It's hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead
This moment's here for eternity, last ride of the day!
- "Song of Myself" begins with some intense, amazing Epic Rocking (the first four minutes or so of which are easily the most final-boss-y thing they've ever written), but it shifts gears halfway through and turns into a beautiful Tear Jerker of a poem, inspired by Walt Whitman.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
- "Shudder Before the Beautiful", the first track of the album and Floor's first really, properly heavy song with the band.
- "Elán", Floor Jansen's debut track, is spectacular even for one of the band's slower-paced songs.
- "The Greatest Show On Earth". The longest track the band has ever recorded and one big celebration of Earth and life itself. It's the band's most ambitious song ever, according to Tuomas, and his personal favorite, and it's easy to see why. It's not a single song but a suite of five separate movements, ranging from operatic to metal, with animal-sounds filled passages, bombastic choruses, an epic crescendo at the middle and Richard Dawkins narrating fragments about evolution twice.
- Their cover of Gary Moore's "Over the Hills and Far Away" somehow made it more epic.
- "Tenth Man Down" is incredibly badass.
- The version of "Astral Romance" from the Over the Hills and Far Away single. The original from Angels Fall First is a bit shaky, but this version is awesome. They even have Tony Kakko on the track.
- "The Escapist". A nightingale in a golden cage...
- "While Your Lips Are Still Red" is a gorgeous song.
- The Heavy Version of "Sleepwalker" off the Over the Hills and Far Away EP may just top the original.