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  • Simply put, this is the greatest album I have ever heard, and will probably ever hear. Once was my first Nightwish album and is in my opinion definately the best, with the previous album, Century Child, coming in at a close 2nd. Many Nightwish fans argue that Wishmaster is better than Once, but I must disagree. As for Angels Fall First and Oceanborn, I have not yet heard them so I cannot compare.

    The Opening track “Dark Chest of Wonders” gets things off to a rocking start, followed by the awesome singles “Wish I Had an Angel” and “Nemo”. WIHaA is a very “different” song for Nightwish, almost touching on a techno-type beat, but still managing to come off sounding like an A-class metal song. “Nemo” is one of my favourite tracks of all time. The guitars cut out during the first few verses leaving Tarja singing with only drums and ominous bass guitar. Of course when the chorusses come around some of the heaviest melodic guitar you will ever hear punches in, and during the outro the orchestra even makes an appearance to give the song that extra power. Again, the extensive use of a full orchestra and choir on this album is something many traditional Nightwish fans feel was too much of a departure from the band’s earlier sound, but in my opinion any time a metal band can mix in such exquisite orchestral arrangements it only helps to make songs infinitely more powerful and interesting.

    “Planet Hell” and “Romanticide” are among the fastest tracks on the album and will bring out the headbanger in anyone’s grandmother, while slower ballads such as the finnish “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan”, which features a beautiful cello interlude, serve to rouse the emotions and make the listener feel the music. Another slower song is “Creek Mary’s Blood”, which features a native american theme, even bringing in a flute solo not unlike that on “Forever Yours” (from the Century Chold album). This track also has beautiful oration and chanting performed by John Two-Hawks. The album’s crowning acheivement and in fact, the best song of all time by any band, has to be the massive ballad “Ghost Love Score”. This song is really long, but thanks to numerous shifts in pace is not tedious for even one second. The orchestra and choirs take center stage here and what results is the strongest piece of musical magic ever recorded. This is definately one to play loud and with your eyes closed. How Tuomas manages to write songs of this magnitude time and time again just amazes me. Greatest songwriter of our time anyone?

    Included on this edition are bonus tracks “White Night Fantasy” and “Live to Tell the Tale”. Both songs kick ass and fit in perfectly with the sound of the album. The CD also includes the video to “wish I had an Angel”. It’s a good video but personally I would’ve preferred the Nemo video to be on here. That is a brilliant video, and is in fact the one Nightwish song that I had ever heard prior to buying this album. Needless to say I’ve never looked back and progressive, operatic, symphonic or “whatever you want to call it” metal is now all I can listen to. I used to live in the dark thinking bands like Metallica (classic), Coal Chamber(nu) or Dimmu Borgir(black) were all metal had to offer, but this album is so good it has ruined all other kinds of music for me. I also recommend other prog-metal bands like Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, Lacuna Coil etc. I also can’t wait to hear Epica and Leave’s Eyes. Reviews on Amazon make them sound really interesting and i will order them as soon as i can afford to.

    This album also marks an important landmark since we now know that it will have been singer Tarja’s last studio album with the band. While this news is distressing, I can’t wait to see who the new singer is and what the impact on the band’s sound will be.

    Posted on January 26, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Music lovers, prepare to meet your match – it is hard to find any album that boasts to be as large as this one. While this album takes back from the more metal approach of previous albums and boasts of the outstanding production value brought on by the Phoenix Orchestra (which was used by Pip Williams for the Lord of the Rings movie scores), the album still is an engrossing listen on repeat for time on end. The lushous mix of Tarja’s vocals, when combined with the masterful arrangements of Tuomas and unity of the bands playing helps make this an album to remember for any music fan.

    As for the songs, Dark Chest of Wonders is an example of the superb arrangement – the mix of the orchestra with choirs, gorgeous vocals by Tarja, and impressive sound overall is to die for. The album doesn’t stop right there though, as most would, with the introduction of the second surprise, Wish I Had an Angel. For those who love electronica & industrial will love this song easily, as it is a genre breaker with Marco’s & Tarja’s duet, a steady beat characteristic of techno, great guitar riffs & use of the background orchestra, and excellent panning. Music lovers might expect more of the same variety from the first two songs, but are misled with the third song, a slower song featuring an amazing arrangement – Nemo surprises deeply with its use of primarily Tarja’s vocals in a dispassionate way throughout most of the songs to set the mood, and to bring the piece to fruition through the second half in drawing that lack of passion into a yearning for more with a “fuller” voice. The fourth song, Planet Hell, is also a nice song of the metal variety. However, another bombshell is dropped with Creek Mary’s Blood, and epic song that makes full use of the orchestra and Tarja’s vocals. Dead Gardens is another delightful song, and Romanticide is more candy for those who like Planet Hell, except featuring Tarja’s voice in her full range of skill in singing and shifting styles within the song. However, the ninth song, Ghost Love Score, is not to be dismissed – it is a full-blown song, pulling no stops in its over the top arrangement, orchestration, choirs, and band’s playing ability. The album winds down with the Finnish song Kuolema Tekee Taijteilijan, a very nice and melancholy song…but then the (original release) album ends with a bang with the choral assault of Higher Than Hope, which boasts of great use of the acoustic guitar, choir, and of course, the band.

    The bonus two songs, Live to Tell the Tale and White Night Fantasy are not bad in themselves, but in an album in which the orchestration helps define most of the songs, these just sound underwhelming. However, they are nice listens, and Live to Tell the Tale has a catchy melody. They are different from the previous songs though, and enjoyable on their own merits.

    Overall, this is easily one of the most addicting albums of all time – my music collection boasts of around 30,000 songs, and this album gets a listen several times a week because it is that good. For those who love music in general, and don’t confine their tastes/preferences to just one genre should appreciate this album greatly, because it is a musical dream that is seldom realized.

    Posted on January 26, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • First Part:
    Nightwish, the most succesful Finnish band are back with their 5th album, Once. Just like the import version, this will probably get many confusing reviews so I’ll try to help.
    First, about Nightwish.
    In the mid 90s, Nightwish appeared as a Power Metal with Symphonic elements that had Tarja Tarunen A professional Mezzo Soprano as frontwoman. Their first album, “Album fall first”, is actually a good album but doesn’t have a good production. Their next album, “Oceanborn” is an excellent release with a better production. Tarja’s performance is awesome.
    Their next release “The Wishmaster” is considered by many their best album. Is certainly the most “Power Metalish” but it doesn’t lose the atmosphere. After “The Wishmaster”, Nightwish comes out with “Century Child” which was a big change. The guitar work almost dissapeared, the Operatic vocals almost go away showing another style from Tarja and the band becomes more quiet plus they added a second vocalist (Marko Hietala who is also the bassist). Now to me, “Once” is pretty much “Century Child” mixed with “The Wishmaster” which is great. Tarja adapts her voice to the new style better than in “Century Child” basically because Toumas Hollopien (Keybordist and songwritter of most of the material) wrote the music in a way that they can fit with Tarja’s voice.
    Songs like “Dark Chest of wonders” or “Nemo” are actually Power Metal songs but that have the atmosphere of the new Nighwish. Epics like “Ghost Love Score” show the orchestra that worked with Nightwish for this album more than the other tracks and “I wish I had an Angel” show the alternative ideas being a track with heavy riffs and a “Techno Beat” that sounds like an Industrial Metal band.
    “Once” is a good album for old and new fans of Nightwish. I recommend it.

    Second Part: Well, “Once” is a very successful album. It got first places in European radios and it has sold a lot of copies. The most successful album by Nightwish to date. However, Nightwish has some detractors. The main detractors of Nightwish are some Metal music fans that don’t like Nightwish because they are not heavy or fast enough. In terms of speed and virtuosity, Nightwish can’t match other Finnish acts like the Power-Melodic Metal bands “Stratovarius” and “Sonata Arctica” (Both very good bands) or the Power-Black Metal band “Children of Bodom”(Another awesome band) however, remember that virtuosity doesn’t always mean the best music. I’m not saying that Nightwish doesn’t have technical quality. Certainly, all their members are stronger than the members of Evanescence and also Nightwish is more technical than the incompetent Nu Metal bands that you can find in the American Radios. However, compared with other Metal acts, they are a kind of weak but they still play awesome music.
    The idea of putting Metal and classical music together began way before Nightwish, however Nightwish is still original. Just like the Import version, here, there will be some reviews that will mention “Symphony X”(Another awesome band indeed) as a better alternative. Symphony X is not even the same music. Sure, the members of that band are extremely talented and they are monsters with the instruments. The guitarist there, Michael Romeo, is one of the 5 best guitar players in the world today and all the other members play more complicated material than Nightwish but as I said, Nightwish is different and can play good music without so much technical quality. There is a possibility that Nightwish will become popular here in the United States (They are already very important in Europe) however, the American music industry doesn’t want foreign bands to get popular here. Even the British bands don’t receive publicity. I personally think that keeping the American people unaware of the good music is disgusting. American Mainstream music is in its worst moment. There is nothing but crap and Nightwish is an excellent alternative. Unfourtunatly, some rich forces try to keep this album away from the American people. How? They don’t play the songs in the radios (Most of them owed by the same two companies) and well, this is just too good for MTV.

    Buy this album and spread the word. There is awesome music out there that is way better than the lame Nu Metal. Nightwish is an excellent band and this is one of their best works to date.

    Posted on January 26, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Nightwish has produced several exceptional albums, but this time they managed to top themselves. Once has that “it” appeal…it is bombastic, and yet still accessible. The album offers a great variety of tones, moods, and sounds that will satisfy any taste, and will thrill metal fans who search for originality.

    From the opening number “Dark Chest of Wonders”, you hear the great orchestral arrangement that compliments the music so well. It is basically like hearing a heavy metal movie soundtrack. There is a lot going on, but somehow, it works. And it works to damn near perfection. This track alone is worth the purchase, but it continues with the 2 songs that could help the band breakout here in the states, “Wish I Had An Angel” and “Nemo”. The brilliant thing about these tracks is while each of them maintains intense musicianship, they both have big hooks that will be embraced by a more mainstream audience. And at the same time, they will satisfy even the most jaded metal fan. The assault continues with “Planet Hell”, easily the albums most fierce song, and goes through a rollercoaster of changes as the album continues.

    Opera and metal meet in perfect harmony. Who would have thought?

    Posted on January 26, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • It was bound to happen – Nightwish’s recording budget increased, and the Finnish quintet added an entire orchestra to their new album, thus forging the most epic and powerful doom album to ever be released. Like giving a child everything he has ever wanted, the band have let loose their boundless creativity. The album is very similar to their previous release, Century Child, but with strings, horns and woodwinds in absolutely every nook. Oh, yes, it is absolutely over-the-top, but in a band such as this, it is fitting and magnificent.

    The opening song, “Dark Chest of Wonders” begins with a pounding metal riff unlike anything else on the album – very reminiscent of “Slaying the Dreamer” or more recent In Flames. However, it doesn’t last. Soon afterwards, trademark Nightwish power-riffs kick in, infectious and energizing, bringing along with them a parading symphony that does not go unheard. The last chorus is absolutely beyond belief, with the band almost *dueling* with the symphony in a musical power struggle. “Wish I Had an Angel” is very similar to “Dead to the World”, with bassist Marko Hietala taking over the vocals in the chorus of this heavy piece. “Nemo” (released as two singles) and “Planet Hell” are Nightwish staples, accessible and tremendously melodic; the latter of which showcases the symphonic textures in a very isolated, gothic atmosphere (“Carmina Burana” is not a stretched comparison).

    The album has two longer pieces, both of which are exceptional tracks. “Creek Mary’s Blood”, an 8-minute eulogy to the destruction of native Americans during the colonial period is woeful, slow and touching, building up to becoming a horn-driven hard rocker.

    But it is nothing in comparison to “Ghost Love Score”, a near 10-minute concoction of tremendous melodic fireworks. The song left me speechless, and would surely have impressed Carl Orff. Everything from the chorus to the symphonic bombast to the choirs is absolutely hypnotic and energetic. The song makes any other song seem pale, ordinary and thoughtless, including the last two tracks on the album. It is that good. Sometime after the 4-minute mark, the band stops playing, and leaves the song in the hands of a passionate symphony, culminating with the band’s re-entry into the song. The choirs that aid in the choral delivery are mostly female, and absolutely majestic. The song is theatrical and truly unrivaled.

    To be perfectly honest (and a bit cynical), the symphony in the album takes a little too much credit. The guitar-work on the album is far from impressive and, if the orchestra were removed, many songs would sound very similar. If it weren’t for Turunen’s voice and the orchestral onslaught, Once would be quite ordinary. Regardless, it is the symphonic album of the year, and the best of Nightwish’s career thus far. My congratulations go to keyboardist/songwriter Tuomas Holopainen and his magnum opus.

    See also: Nightwish – Wishmaster, Nightwish – Century Child

    Posted on January 25, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now