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3.86 | 52 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1998

Filed under Power Metal


1. Stargazers (4:28)
2. Gethsemane (5:21)
3. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean (4:46)
4. Sacrament of Wilderness (4:12)
5. Passion and the Opera (4:50)
6. Swanheart (4:44)
7. Moondance (3:31)
8. The Riddler (5:16)
9. The Pharaoh Sails to Orion (6:26)
10. Walking in the Air (5:28)

Total Time: 49:06

Bonus Track:
11. Sleeping Sun (4:02)

2007 reissue bonus tracks:
12. Nightquest (4:15)
13. Sleeping Sun (Live) (4:31)
14. Swanheart (Live) (3:55)
15. The Pharaoh Sails To Orion (Live) (6:39)


- Tarja Turunen / vocals
- Emppu Vuorinen / guitars
- Sami Vänskä / bass
- Tuomas Holopainen / keyboards, backing vocals (on track 7)
- Jukka Nevalainen / drums, backing vocals (on track 7)
- Tapio Wilska / vocals (on tracks 3, 7, 9)
- Esa Lehtinen / flute
- Plamen Dimov / violin
- Kaisli Kaivola / violin
- Markku Palola / viola
- Erkki Hirvikangas / cello

About this release

Release date: October 1st, 1998
Label: Spinefarm Records

Drakkar/Century Media. Finnish release 1998, international release 1999.

Most pressings include Sleeping Sun as a bonus track, and the 2007 reissue added four more bonus tracks. Nightquest was used as a bonus track on many original international pressings.

Thanks to Pekka, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Extra tracks · Reissued
Spinefarm Records 2008
$3.63 (used)
Oceanborn (+Bonus) by Nightwish (1999-04-21)Oceanborn (+Bonus) by Nightwish (1999-04-21)
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Angels Fall First / Oceanborn by NightwishAngels Fall First / Oceanborn by Nightwish
$204.70 (used)
Universal 2012
$18.07 (used)
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Specialists/collaborators reviews

‘Oceanborn’ is the second studio album by symphonic metal legends Nightwish. Released in 1998, it comes just one year after their debut, but already there’s a marked improvement in every aspect of the band and their music.

For starters, everything is more polished. The compositions flow a lot better and don’t seem as disjointed as before. The interplay between all the musicians, in particular, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen is fantastic. Full of exciting melodies and energetic performances, the music sounds much more vibrant and alive on this release. There are also more varied influences on this album, such as ‘Swanheart’ with its folk influence, ‘Moondance’ with its exotic flavour, and a wide use of neoclassical runs used throughout. It makes for a much more refreshing album.

Then there’s the production. Wow! A huge improvement! While ‘Angels Fall First’ always sounded raw and, in my opinion, a little flat, ‘Oceanborn’, again, sounds much more alive. Everything is clear and well balanced and it suits the music perfectly.

However, despite all the praise, there are still a few filler songs, and in general, a lack of that “big” sound that Nightwish would develop more over the years. But it’s not really a criticism, as this is a really good release. And songs like ‘The Riddler’, ‘Gethsemane’, ‘Passion and the Opera’, ‘ Stargazers’, ‘Sacrament of Wilderness’ and their amazing rendition of the classic ‘Walking in the Air’ are all great signs that this band are developing and maturing at a fast rate, and are definitely destined for bigger things.
Nightwish's best album

"I'm listening to some super music right now"...

...said one of my best friends during my campus years. Intrigued, I immediately came to his room to check his affirmation, and... what an ear-shock! A female opera singer over a power metal song? What was this? Never heard that before! In my defence, at that time, I suppose many other people haven't either, as this was the album that really started it all...

Whereas the debut "Angels Fall First" was still hesitating in its approach and incorporated gothic touches, this second opus saws the band now fully assuming their lyrical heavy metal orientation by pushing its concept to the maximum. Both uncommon and refreshing in 1998, "Oceanborn" marries raging and energetic guitars though elaborated compositions with superb melodies, sometimes epic, sometimes melancholic, sublimed by Tarja Turunen's ethereal soprano voice. A classically trained female vocalist, bringing her talent and her 3 octaves range to this genre, was quite atypical at the time. Her crystalline interpretation literally carries the music to a whole new dimension, magic, enchanting, elegant, out of this world...

Not everything is perfect though. The disc contains some of the band's best tracks, but also less catchy passages.

The fast-paced "Stargazers" is a glorious heroic heavy metal opener that directly transport you into another place. Its dark interlude is beautiful. Completely different, the melodic mid-tempo "Gethseman" is tragic, even touching at times. However, my favorite tune is undoubtedly "Passion And The Opera". Epic and haunting, with Tarja's aerial vocalizations and a thrilling finale! The instrumental "Moondance" opens with piano and, supported by rocking guitars, possesses quite dancing folk vibes and numerous rhythm changes. A fairy tale... "The Riddler" is energetic and powerful, whereas "Walking In The Air" is a cover of "I'm Walking In The Air", from Howard Blake's 1982 film "The Snowman". NIGHTWISH's revisit is ethereal and floating...

As I said, some titles have less seduced me. The lyrical "Sacrament Of Wilderness" contains charming moments but is overall rather average. I'm not really fond of the two songs with Tapio Wilska - ex-singer of their fellow countrymen Finntroll - either. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" is raging and oppressive, but fails to really lift off. Same goes for the "Stratovarius-esque" "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion", which includes pleasant Egyptian touches though. "Swanheart" is a melancholic and gracious ballad, but a bit soapy.

Anyway, "Oceanborn" remains an influential breakthrough album, paving the way for a new genre and for future female vocalists in the metal sphere. NIGHTWISH has now definitely crafted its own identity as well as its leadership. With this impacting second opus, the Finnishs impose themselves as one of the most important formation on the nascent revival scene at the end of the 90's and will gain international notoriety. Unfortunately, the later releases won't match the same level of quality and inspiration...

One of the best power/heavy metal with female singer record, and the one to start with if you're not familiar with NIGHTWISH. Fans of progressive metal will also appreciate the numerous ambiance changes within the tracks. A journey through a fairy tale suspended world...
siLLy puPPy
After an acoustically laden folk metal experience on the debut album NIGHTWISH decided to really go for the gusto on their second release OCEANBORN and what a triumph of musical mixing this is. They still retain some of the Finnish folk music that is intrinsically sewn into the fabric of their songwriting but on this release they really ramp up the metal and symphonic aspects of their sound. I see this as equally part neo-classical metal of the Stratovarius type married with symphonic prog a la Renaissance laced with Finnish folk music and topped off with some classical diva operatic vocals by the stunning Tarja Turunen.

This is my only NIGHTWISH album i've yet heard so I can't compare to other releases but on this one the musicians are all top notch. Tuomas Holopainen who is the main songwriter really knows how to create some interesting hooks and his keyboard talents are one of the main ingredients in holding this symphonic metal together so well. Emppu Vuorinen nails the neo-classical guitar shredding and the double-bass drumming of Jukka Nevalainen really blend well with the bass skills of Sami Vankska.

Everything works together perfectly to create an epic musical fantasy. The music is further embellished by flutes, violin, viola and cello. There is also some male vocals that appear as the voice of both the devil and pharaoh but Tarja is the star of this release with her angelic presence totally dominating the accompanying symphonic power metal music. This album goes by too fast. From the high energy opening track “Stargazers” that sets the stage for the rest of the album it promises to keep your attention to the end of the album. Only a couple of the slower tracks keep me from rating this higher. The album shines brightest when the band is delivering epic fast-paced fantasy metal like there's no tomorrow.

I didn't realize how huge this band is as far as popularity goes. They are one of the best selling Finnish acts ever and have been hugely successful worldwide. I understand this is their best release but I still need to check out more of their output because if any of it comes even close to the melodic and symphonic beauty of OCEANBORN then I am a fan indeed.
I typically find the symphonic power metal style which Nightwish are one of the leading exemplars of to be a decidedly hit or miss affair, with Nightwish typically falling on the "miss" side of the equation. This album is the closes that they come to winning me over, which probably explains why it's their critical and commercial breakthrough. The best tracks on here tend to be the ones when the band go at it full pelt and rely on Tuomas Holopainen's keyboards to provide most of the symphonic gravitas, though a few pieces with a more orchestral touch do stand out, such as an inspired cover of the Snowman theme song Walking In the Air which gives Tarja the perfect opportunity to show just what she can do with her vocals.

Still, it all feels a bit light and insubstantial to my tastes, a bit popcorn and candyfloss next to the red meat of groups like Theatre of Tragedy or The Sins of Thy Beloved, which offer a somewhat more classically gothic take on the whole "Beauty and the Beast" lineup and rely a bit less on orchestral overkill.
Oceanborn is an excellent power metal album, before Nightwish began their descent in more basic symphonic/pop based metal music. It is here you can hear what people loved about Nightwish in the first place.

The basic structure of the album is quick-uptempo power metal, with the keyboard possibly the most prominent instrument in the mix, using lots of string tones, piano, and straightforward synth tones, often showcasing Tuomas Holopainen's rather strong musicianship, especially on tracks like "Gethsemane" and "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion". Most of the other instruments are rather standard for the genre, but Tarja Turunen is a very notable singer. She uses a rather unique operatic vocal style, while most female vocalists choose to use a far more mainstream "pop" vocal approach, never reaching the heights that Turunen is able to accomplish.

The standout tracks on Oceanborn are generally uptempo and creative, using the orchestral synth sounds to their fullest. There are tracks like "Gethsemane" where the piano and the guitar play off each other fluidly in the quick uptempo riffs, and other places in the song the drums create interesting syncopated beats, forming a completely progressive metal song. "Moondance" is a killer instrumental, with the band forming a unique composition, with both beautiful flute and piano parts leading into a sort of 'metal jig' with celtic rhythms, also fully progressive. Also one of the better compositions is "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion", with speed metal elements all through it and gliding piano flowing through it from its ominous intro to its epic conclusion. Fans should also enjoy the softer "Swanheart" and "Sleeping Sun", along with the snowman theme "Walking in Air".

The album is not without a few flaws though. Like lots of power metal albums, the songs do have a tendency to sound a same. This is especially true towards the beginning of the album, since most of the more interesting songs come at the beginning. However once the listener is midway through the album they have nothing but great music to enjoy, all of it creative. Therefore lots of power metal fans should recognize this as an excellent album to have in their collection, and the essential Nightwish album to own.
This is the album where Nightwish found their sound.

After the raw sounding Angels Fall First, Oceanborn was the first real breath of air for Nightwish, taking their musical abillity and scepticism to the next level, where cathcy songs could be made with technique and power. This also seemed to be the album which was their most prog like.

Tuomas' lyrics also seem to be at their best, with the use of vague expressions and real poetic majesty, the thing which really atracted me to Nightwish.

1. Stargazers - Probably one of my favourite Nightwish songs. With amazing neo classical technique which would leave Yngwie Malmsteen blushing, an amazing chorus and one of Tuomas' greatest lyrical moments. Amazing.

2. Gethsemane - This, along with Wanderlust, is probabbly one of the most technical things they have ever done. An amazing vocal performance from Tarja and a great chorus. The song itself is about Jesus' death, but with a poetic take on the drudgining story.

3. Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean - Kickass riffs and amazing dramaticism. What more could you want.

4. Sacrament Of Wilderness - This song sounds like HIM (HIM are amazing though). Yea, everyone praises this song, but I don't really see the big deal about's one of Nightwish' weakest.

5. Passion & The Opera - About sex...God Tuomas really is a nymphomaniac. Great song though.

6. Swanheart - One of their most beautiful compositions. Very nice and relaxing.

7. Moondance - How could you not love this song? It's memorable, intresting and reminds me of Irish music...thats not that good, but still, it is Nightwish :).

8.The Riddler - Love the use of synths and a great chorus.

9. The Pharaoh Sails To Orion - One of Nightwish' best in my opinion. Amazing dramatic like scenes, amazing chorus, a great vocal performance from Tarja, and Emppu really displays some amazing guitar work.

CONCLUSION: This is the second time I had to do this. So it may be a bit vague. But definetly a must for Nightwish fans. It doesn't top Wishmaster, but it comes very close.

Members reviews

"Oceanborn" shows a maturity and musical quality much better than the previous album, "Angels Fall First". "Stargazers" shows an evolution in the corner of "Tarja Turunen" as well as greater participation of guitarist "Emppu Vuorinen" that gave the bass to "Sami Vänskä." The leader and main songwriter of the band remains a major emphasis, "Tuomas Holopainen."

"Gethsemane" is an excellent track where all the instruments work. We have keyboard and guitar solos, vocal techniques and the other members doing their job.

"Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean" begins with a "heavy riff". There is a duento voice but this time is not "Tuomas" who sings, but "Tapio Wilska." "Jukka Nevalainen" and "Sami Vänskä" get some attention on this song. Along its almost 5 minutes, the rhythmic variations occur naturally and accurately.

While "Emppu Vuorinen" and "Sami Vänskä" set the tone of the "metal" band. The lyrical voice of "Tarja Turunen" and keyboards of "Tuomas Holopainen" create a symphonic sound. "Jukka Nevalainen" helps the junction of the parties. "Sacrament of Wilderness" well represents this idea.

"Sacrament Of Wilderness" and "Passion And The Opera" are two moments of elements "prog" on the disk, with rhythmic variations and combinations of chords between the instruments.

"Swanheart," "Walking In The Air" and "Sleeping Sun" are beautiful ballads.

"Moondance" is instrumental, and has the keyboard in the spotlight.

"The Riddler" is a reasonable song.

The biggest track on the album is also one of the best, "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion". Again all the musicians give their best and turn this song into a spectacle of sound.

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