When then tiny independent record label Spinefarm decided to take a chance on a brand new group called Nightwish by releasing a modest 500-unit pressing of their first album, Angels Fall First (originally recorded as a simple demo), little did they know this would quickly evolve into their biggest future cash cow, and one of Finland's most successful bands ever! Believe it: such were the humble origins and expectations for both band and album; despite the already quite advanced songwriting abilities of chief architect, keyboardist, and vocalist Tuomas Holopainen, which adorned melodic power metal with gothic, folk, and classical music elements, then topped them with the budding vocal power of a still baby-faced opera student named Tarja Turunen. Completed by guitarist/bassist Emppu Vuorinen and drummer Jukka Nevalainen, the nascent Nightwish were in fact merely scratching the surface of their commercial potential (and ensuing stardom), at this stage; yet they showed amazing courage and versatility on forceful tracks like "Elvenpath" and "Know Why the Nightingale Sings," the Finnish folk-steeped "The Carpenter," and an early glimpse of their latter-day fascination with musical theater in "Beauty and the Beast." So even though there were still several areas where the precocious bandmembers required additional seasoning (e.g. replacing Holopainen's unsatisfying vocal efforts, leaving folk-metal aspirations for other Finnish bands to exploit, and reigning in occasional lyrical transgressions like those of "Nymphomaniac Fantasia"), Angels Fall First arguably remains the band's most eclectic album (unfocused to its detractors), and, for this very reason, a favorite for many of their fans. And in the greater scheme of things, Nightwish's unexpectedly popular debut easily trumped most of the era's less risk-taking, female-fronted goth-metal bands, and felt like a veritable tornado of fresh air blowing through the Scandinavian extreme metal scene -- hence its success among female consumers.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia