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Nightwish - Once CD (album) cover

ONCE

Nightwish

 

Progressive Metal

3.62 | 199 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars As I travel back in time through the NIGHTWISH discography, the prog quotient dwindles somewhat, and the symphonic metal tag is more accurate, characterized by crunching riffs and actual orchestrations. For the first time, a non-Finnish orchestra is employed, the London Philharmonic.

Of this standard NIGHTWISH fare, "I Wish I had an Angel" and particularly "Nemo" (the hit single) are worthy romps, while wild and woolly opener "Dark Chest of Wonders", "Planet Hell", "The Siren", and moody closer "Higher than Hope" have their moments, but the latter part of "Dead Gardens" and the whole of "Romanticide" plumb pedestrian depths, the brilliant title to the latter notwithstanding.

In contrast, the 2 epics on "Once" are signposts to a prog-metal oriented future. Both ooze fantastical bombast and are more cinematic than most soundtracks, with "Creek Mary's Blood" being primarily folk based and "Ghost Love Score" symphonic and operatic. Apparently the chant by John Two-Hawks in "Creek Mary's Blood" was meant to be Lakota but is mostly gibberish. I'm not sure if the band was duped or not along with their fans, but it's such a heartfelt piece and Two-Hawks' flute does appear to speak Lakota! In any case, everyone seems to have bought in to this more ambitious approach, even though this was to be vocalist Tarja Turunen's last album. The band wisely follows this with a rare Finnish song, the melancholic ballad "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan".

Against the standards of fickle prog audiences, "Once" might be both too overwrought and not complex enough, but its unabashed blend of metal, symphonic and folk is certainly ambitious enough, particularly on the lengthiest numbers, reflecting where NIGHTWISH would gleefully go again and again in the years that followed. 3.5 stars.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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