Nightwish - 2004 Once

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ARTIST: Nightwish
ALBUM: Once
LABEL: Spinefarm
SERIAL: SPI200CD
YEAR: 2004
CD REISSUE: 2013, Nuclear Blast, NB 1291-1 (LP)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Tarja Turunen - vocals * Emppu Vuorinen - guitars * Tuomas Holopainen - keyboards * Marco Hietala - bass * Jukka Nevalainen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dark Chest Of Wonders * 02 Wish I Had An Angel * 03 Nemo * 04 Planet Hell * 05 Creek Mary's Blood * 06 The Siren * 07 Dead Gardens * 08 Romanticide * 09 Ghost Love Score * 10 Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan * 11 Higher Than Hope

RATING: image

Background

The biggest Nightwish album - the one that launched several hits, introduced some rather cool ideas, sounded like a million dollars (and cost €250.000), but also broadened the field of Nightwish fans with many twee boys and girls who liked Evanescence a few months before.

The Songs

'Dark Chest Of Wonders' relies on the dual attack of that evil introductory guitar riff and overbearing orchestral and choral embellishments, with pompous but somehow imposing results.

'Wish I Had An Angel' is in the whole other 'dance metal' ballpark, with its synthesized drum beat and a rhythm akin to the biggest pop hits of the era. Really not a fan of it.

'Nemo' is the band's best known single, a wistful piano-based ballad accompanied by a video of the band playing in a snowstorm, Tarja in a majestic red coat, everyone looking appropriately sorrow-stricken and gothic. Whenever I hear it, I can't help but remember the 'I'm playing the world's smallest violin' Spongebob joke, except in this case it's the world's smallest piano.

'Planet Hell' brings about a necessary dose of energy, and the bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala scores a nice performance in it.

'Creek Mary's Blood' is one of Nightwish's experiments - once again a mini-epic, with the added oomph of having a Native American artist (of mixed heritage - I know it's irritating and ignorant to lump all Native American tribes under one category) doing chants in a symphonic metal song.

'The Siren' is my favourite track on the album, seductive and mysterious, once again partly sung by Marco, and since it's co-written by the band's guitarist, it's really not a surprise that it has such a nifty guitar riff in it.

'Dead Gardens' is a bit of a filler (ironic, considering how it's about a creative block), and 'Romanticide' is the meanest metal song the band's ever written, parts of it remind me of Pantera! It was performed rather well on the band's recent DVD, too.

'Ghost Love Score' should be everyone's favourite Nightwish track, if it already isn't - a passionate, heartfelt, catchy, well-constructed epic, one of a kind.

'Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan' is quite lovely, as least for those who explode in delight at the sound of sung Finnish (that would be me), although I can't help but feel that the 'siksi miksi' rhyme is a bit unfortunate.

'Higher Than Hope' is emotional and sweet-sounding, but it doesn't scream 'closer' at me.

In Summary

Pomp oomph pomp pomp oomph, with a lot of interesting substance to be unearthed, but ultimately not the best Nightwish album.


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