Sound — 9
Angels Fall First was initially the second demo album of the now famous Symphonic Metal Group known as Nightwish, and turned into their debut album after they signed with Spinefarm Records. Nowadays, Nightwish is one of the most epic metal bands out there, and has even moved people to tears on occasion, but back in 1997, Nightwish sounded very different. As the band was forming, they played a brand of "acoustic mood music," according to Tuomas Holopainen (the keyboardist and main songwriter of NW) and gradually shifted to metal as it became apparent that Tarja Turunen's vocals were too powerful for an acoustic project. The overall sound of Angels Fall First is therefore a hybrid of these two stages of the band, as many of the songs on the album were written prior to the shift in styles. This is particularly evident on the 2008 re-release of the album, which includes three demo tracks. However, despite the major acoustic influences on this album, the metal part is certainly there on many songs. For example, the main riff of "Beauty and the Beast" is reminiscent of hardcore power metal on many levels, and shows Emppu Vuorinen's skill with a guitar. The drums on the album blend in very well with the music, in that there are very little drums on the lighter songs, but are certainly a major force in the album's heavy songs. The majority of the effects on the album were done by Tuomas by way of synths, which at times can make the album sound tacky, but is generally the glue that holds everything together. This album is the beginning of one of the greatest modern metal bands, but may not appeal to fans of their newer material. Nevertheless, this album is a very good debut album, and is just as brilliant regardless of a difference in sound.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on this album are very diverse, and as usual are all written by Tuomas. As the previous reviewer stated, some of the lines seem relatively cliche, but the lyrics never fail to fit perfectly with the music. Also, Tuomas was obviously finding his groove in terms of writing, so some of the material was definitely quite experimental. Tarja Turunen's vocals are nothing short of amazing, as per usual. On the acoustic songs she certainly seems to overpower the music at times, but was mixed in such a way that it doesn't really take away from anything at all. She sounds more in line with the music on the heavier songs, but in general, her singing is an amazing part of this album that foreshadows the greatness that would come for Nightwish. Tuomas also sang on three of the songs, and although his vocals aren't all that good to be honest, he still conveys all the emotion that the songs require. In live shows some of these songs made use of guest vocalists such as Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, but on the album itself, Tuomas did a fine job under the circumstances.
Overall Impression — 10
This album really didn't have very much to compare to at the time, as they were still in between styles when it was released. However, it was the forerunner of great albums such as "Once" and "Dark Passion Play," which are arguably the best in the symphonic metal genre. Still, back in 1997, the genre itself was still getting it's start, so there wasn't much to compare this album to back when it was released. Many of the songs on this album are very impressive, with my personal favourites being "Beauty and the Beast," "The Carpenter," "Nymphomaniac Fantasia," "Lappi," and "Nightwish," the demo from the 2008 re-release. I loved almost everything about this album, and overall, the only song I wasn't really crazy about was "Tutankhamen," which seems to be the only song that doesn't really fit with the general theme of the album, whatever that might be. If I were to lose this album under any circumstances, I'd buy 2 copies to make sure it didn't happen again.