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NIGHTWISH - WISHMASTER (Pre-Owned CD, 2001, Century Media) Powerful melodic metal

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Finland's Nightwish steps to the head of the atmospheric-metal class with their third album. The regal quintet blends the brooding qualities of goth and propulsion metal with the gorgeous operatic singing of Tarja Turunen. Thanks to musical prowess and the skilled hand of composer-keyboardist Tuomas Holpainen, what could be a ponderous and pretentious affair is a vibrant metal romp. Nightwish walks that fine line between heavy-rock bravado and classical pageantry without tipping too much in either direction; the balance of aggressive guitars and flowing keyboards is just right, and the multitracked female vocals and guitar harmonies are glorious. While some may find the lyrics a bit flowery, Wishmaster bumps atmospheric metal up a notch in the right direction. --Bryan Reesman