Wishmaster is the third studio album by the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, released on 8 May 2000 through Spinefarm Records in Finland. The album was released in Europe by Drakkar Entertainment on 29 May 2000 and in the US by Century Media on 6 February 2001.
Wishmaster peaked at No. 1 in the official Finnish charts; the album also debuted in the European charts at No. 21 in Germany and No. 66 in France. Wishmaster has sold more than 79,000 copies in Finland alone.
Most re-issues of the album contain the song “Sleepwalker”, which was released in July 2000 to compete in the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest tryouts.
Background and release
The writing and recording of Wishmaster was very fast and devoid of complications, in contrast with what had happened for Oceanborn. The main composer Tuomas Holopainen considers the album “the most distant and least personal (…) in the Nightwish catalogue”, despite containing the “mother of all Nightwish songs – Dead Boys’ Poem.” The image of the dead boy would reappear in several songs of the following albums. Wishmaster was issued on 8 May 2000, a few days earlier than its scheduled release. The reason for early release is that the music had leaked onto the Internet.
Wishmaster’s sound continues the bombastic symphonic power metal approach originally featured on Oceanborn, albeit with more emphasis on atmosphere and melody versus speed and heaviness. Perhaps even more so than its predecessor, Wishmaster has a very clear fantasy theme. While commonly considered to be closer to conventional power metal, there is still a great variety with slower songs like “Two for Tragedy” and “Dead Boy’s Poem”, and more epic pieces like “FantasMic”. “The Kinslayer” is written about the victims of the Columbine High School massacre. “Wishmaster” was inspired by the fantasy novel series The Lord of the Rings and Dragonlance, mentioning Elbereth, Lórien, and the Grey Havens from the former; and Dalamar, Raistlin Majere (Dalamar’s shalafi, or “master”), Gilthanas, the Sla-Mori, Silvara and the Inn of the Last Home from the latter. “FantasMic” is a song about the Disney animated movies, particularly their fantasy and fable elements, taking its title from the Disneyland show Fantasmic!
The song “Wishmaster” has remained one of Nightwish’s greatest hits, appearing on several best of compilations. Since its release, it has been a recurring track during live performances, and was featured on the live DVD End of an Era, recorded in 2005. As of 2013, it is still often performed live despite the band’s change of vocalists. A new orchestral intro for the track was recorded during the orchestral recording of Dark Passion Play. Other recurring live songs from the album are “She Is My Sin”, “Dead Boy’s Poem” and “Come Cover Me”.