2000’s Wishmaster was the third release from Finnish metal sensation Nightwish. The band quickly made a name for themselves with their unique brand of “operatic metal”, and would inspire countless imitators. Nightwish was the first though, and with Wishmaster they pretty much set the standard that nearly none of their peers could hope to match.
The band showed incredible potential on Angels Fall First, and continued to develop their sound on Oceanborn, but with Wishmaster you’re hearing a band who is completely confident in their abilities, and whose songwriting skills are the equal of their musical talent. It’s a grand, sweeping majestic album that takes full advantage of Tuomas Holopainen’s keyboard and songwriting skills as well as Tarja Turunen’s majestic, opera-caliber voice. The symphonic elements are the perfect accent to the traditional metal sound. Highlights include “Wanderlust”, “Deep Silent Complete”, “Fantasmic” and the rousing title track, but there really aren’t any sub-par songs on the album.
I still think 2004’s Once is Nightwish’s ultimate achievement, but Wishmaster comes pretty close. Nearly a decade after its original release, it’s still the standard by which most other “opera metal” bands are judged.
NOTE: The 2008 reissue of Wishmaster does not feature digitally remastered sound, but there are some extras that might give you sufficient reason to replace your older version. In addition to the expanded liner notes, there are three bonus tracks – live versions of “Wanderlust” and “Deep Silence Complete” and the original version of “Sleepwalker”. Live tracks don’t do much for me, but “Sleepwalker” is a great addition since it was previously only available as a b-side to an import single. Is that one song worth buying another copy of Wishmaster? Probably not, but I had already picked up the reissues of Angels Fall First and Oceanborn, so I went ahead and upgraded Wishmaster as well.