A satisfying cross-section of the band’s career

Nightwish weren’t the first band to blend classical and operatic elements with metal but they have come to be the most successful exponents of the form.

Decades is a celebration of the band’s twenty year career, a reverse-chronological order two disc set featuring highlights from each of their albums. Newcomers to the band will most likely need to hear little more than ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, which shows off almost every trick the band has ever pulled across its vast 24-minute length. In truth, it’s probably a bit too much for those less familiar with Nightwish’s grandiosity. But there’s plenty of other places here to start, like ‘The Kinslayer’, one of the finest earlier examples of their opulence featuring multi-layered vocals from original soprano Tarja Turunen or the more rock-flavoured ‘I Want My Tears Back’, helmed by Anette Olzon.

The earlier songs show off the pioneering moves Nightwish were making in the mid-90s, the high symphonic melodic, heavy-riffing metal built around Tuomas Holopainen’s grand orchestral arrangements and Turunen’s operatic-quality voice; later efforts move into a rockier direction to accommodate Olzon’s Benatar-inflected delivery while the first three songs, lifted from their most recent album, don’t have quite the same sparkle with the exception of the folky ‘Élan’, even if Floor Jansen gives her all.

Although it tends to highlight how the band’s creative vision and innovation has dimmed somewhat across the years and while a couple of personal favourites like ‘Dead to the World’ and their version of Gary Moore’s ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ have been overlooked, Decades is a satisfying cross-section of this band’s oeuvre.

CD 1:

  1. The Greatest Show on Earth
  2. Élan
  3. My Walden
  4. Storytime
  5. I Want My Tears Back
  6. Amaranth
  7. The Poet and the Pendulum
  8. Nemo
  9. Wish I Had an Angel

CD 2:

  1. Ghost Love Score
  2. Slaying the Dreamer
  3. End of All Hope
  4. 10th Man Down
  5. The Kinslayer
  6. Dead Boy’s Poem
  7. Gethsemane
  8. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean
  9. Sacrament of Wilderness
  10. Sleeping Sun
  11. Elvenpath
  12. The Carpenter
  13. Nightwish (demo)