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Nightwish - Once CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.61 | 196 ratings

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2 stars It's amassing how a rock genre can change in only a decade. It was 1991 when Paradise Lost released "Gothic" a doom/death metal record that would set the tone for the goth metal bands that were to come amongst which was Nightwish. At first, goth metal was depressive with operatic influences and it used many death metal techniques especially the one regarding vocals. However this didn't last long, the bands became ever more melodic and more addicted to euphony and the more time passed the more melodic they turned. An obvious example is Nightwish, a band that actually debuted with a melodic power/gothic metal record entitled "Angles Fall First". After 2000 goth metal bands started being influenced by pop, which is not a bad thing at all. I enjoy diversity and modern music but when a certain band creates music with the certain purpose of being modern, there a big problem. This is exactly what "Once" is all about.

The first track, "Dark Chest of Wonders" opens the album with a scent of musical feeling but without any complexity except the final keyboard solo which is very epic. Even from this point the film soundtrack atmosphere that is supposed to be the main attraction of the song can be noticed , aspect of which I am skeptic because firstly Nightwish is not Pink Floyd or Peter Gabriel and secondly, the rest of the instruments say almost nothing:for instance, the guitar is focused only on rhythm which is a very trendy thing, by the way. 5/10 (in spite all it's defects, i enjoyed it a little).

"Wish I Had an Angel" is a typical hit single that starts with a monotonous but loud guitar followed by some clean vocals with some bass and keyboard backup that have no complexity whatsoever. The refrain features the same aggressive musical part from the beginning of the song only this time with the vocals above it. The structure repeats it's self and voila, you have a MTV hit. Not to mention that Hietala's vocals a pathetic and that the nu-metal/alternative metal riffs have to be backed up by a intelligent bass track that here simply doesn't exist. 2/10

Another hit single is "Nemo", a song that surprisingly has guitar solo (not indicated to pop radio hits) but unfortunately features Tarja singing a pop style vocal part that sound horrible. Lucky Hietala doesn't sing on this track. 3/10 (not as bad as it's predecessor)

I guess bombastic is the most suitable word for "Planet Hell". It starts with an emphatic choir that immediately tells me that what i am going to listen to cannot be a good piece of music. The only "variations" of the song's instrumentation are the changes of the speed of playing. It's once again unoriginal and inartistic. I really wasn't expecting much from "Once", but still, there is no artistic decency in what they are doing. Some may say that the gothic keyboard saves the day, but in such a toxic environment, it's useless. (1/10)

The album starts presenting some music on "Creek Mary's Blood", a ballad (ballads have always been Nightwish's strong point) which is 8 minutes long and has a shifting atmosphere, starting with some ritualistic drums, followed by some nice flute and acoustic melodies supported by a cello that marks the rhythm. The vocals sound good, the guitars solo as well. At some point the song turns into a battle hymn very similar to almost all the other epic power metal bands in the whole wide world. But nevertheless a good track. (7/10)

"The Siren" is the best song this record has to offer. It really suggests the dark depths of the ocean, all surrounded by a mystical pressure; there is a lot of tension in this song, the solo guitar definitely overpasses the level featured until here, the climax is interpreted by the guitar and the keyboards in a good duet, while the feminine and the masculine vocals alternate one with each other nicely. 8/10 (if it had been longer, it would have been better)

If "Once" had a recycle bin, it would be called "Dead Gardens". 1/10 (that "psychedelic" ending is one hell of a failure)

"Romanticide" has some motives taken from "The Siren" that focus on reflecting darkness and the tharshy sound of "Dead Gardens" (only this time it sound good) with a power metal solo which surprised me with it's technique. If only the refrain and the ending had been more inspired.... 4/10

"Ghost Love Score" is supposed to be the highest musical level of the album marked by complexity and innovations. It simply isn't that way: using a big number of instruments doesn't mean that the song is good and the melody only proves that Toumas has seen Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean many times. Not only it isn't original, it also has a epic structure that at some point becomes senseless. For Nightwish fans, "Ghost Love Score" is just like "Echoes" is for Pink Floyd Floyd fans, well it's NOT. 3/10 (2 points for length.... long songs don't sell well)

Folk and classical genres are always welcomed on such records, therefore "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" really gives the listener a good musical impression which is why, from some points of view, i dare call it the best song of "Once" along with "The Siren". 8/10

The album ends with "Higher Than Hope". It actually sounds like an ending tune, fortunately for them, a good decision in arranging the track list.4/10 (it's good, but it sounds like all the other tracks)

In conclusion, the album has nothing to do with symphonic metal or progressive rock. I dare call it a failure form many points of view like composition, execution, vocal interpretation, track list etc. I have to notice though the good production with few disagreements regarding the guitar processing. Final impression: 2/10.

(5+2+3+1+7+8+1+4+3+8+4+2)/12=4; 2 stars rating although i believe only one would have been more appropriate

Zarec | 2/5 |


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