Oceanborn is the second studio album by Finnishsymphonic metal band Nightwish, released in December 1998 in Finland and in the Spring of 1999 worldwide.Oceanborn has sold more than 68,000 copies in Finland. The single "Sleeping Sun" was released in August 1999 and the song has been included in every re-issue of the album since then. The album was released in the US by Century Media in March 2001.
Speaking to Kerrang! in 2008, band founder Tuomas Holopainen reminisced that the band got really ambitious after the debut album "that was never meant to be released as a proper record. It happened almost by accident, so we decided to put everything into making Oceanborn great." He added:
We were all such amateurs when it came to recording. We didn't really know what we were doing, so we were just experimenting with a lot of different things, we even brought in this string trio who were complete shit, then another violin, then another violin on top. So we ended up with 'Moondance' having 20 tracks of violin, just because we hadn't done this before and didn't know what we were doing! It's a pretty stuffed album, but I also think it's one of our best because you can hear the excitement of trying all these new things. It seems strange that this became a breakthrough album, because back at the time the music was so funny. It was really operatic, and when you look at the pictures, they look pretty horrific.
According to Kerrang!, "for all its Royal Albert Hall grandiosity, Oceanborn was actually recorded in a Finnish school."
This album marked a definitive change in musical scope for Nightwish from their folk-laden roots in Angels Fall First, showcasing a more bombastic, power metal-oriented sound with faster tempos, harmonic guitar/keyboard leads, and plenty of double-bass-heavy drumwork. During that time, Stratovarius was Holopainen's biggest inspiration, hence the power metal sound of the album.Oceanborn's sound hearkens a more dramatic approach in the overall musical scope, mostly relegated to the symphonic keyboard work and lead singer Tarja Turunen's vocals. Most of the album is fantasy-themed, with tracks like "Swanheart" and "Walking in the Air", a cover from the animated motion picture The Snowman, as typical examples; however, the song "Gethsemane", has a more religious feel to it. In addition, there are also some theatrical tracks like "Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean". Oceanborn is among their darkest albums, making use of the harsh vocals of Tapio Wilska in the songs "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" and "Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean".
Since the album's release, "Sacrament of Wilderness" has remained a fan-favorite at concerts, and it's still performed often. Both "Sleeping Sun" and "Walking in the Air" have also been performed often on shows, but "Stargazers" has been dropped since Turunen's dismissal in 2005. "Walking in the Air" returned to the live set list of the band at 19 September 2009 at Hartwall Areena, this time as an acoustic song sung by then-vocalist Anette Olzon.