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Nightwish - Once CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.63 | 189 ratings

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4 stars This stuff is heavy. Way too heavy for me. But I really like it. I bought it without ever hearing the band and the reviews got me. I was intrigued by the orchestra being a part of it all but when Dark Chest of Wonders hit me for the first time, I wondered what the hell I was thinking. But the heaviness is brought to you with great hooks that reel you in and the orchestra adds a dimension that really makes this stuff jump.

Nemo is the third song and it really gets stuck in your head. A piano lead that is produced to be heard alongside the chugging guitar is very nice and the chorus is infectious. The orchestra sweeps in midway through and we get one of the few guitar solos the album has. Planet Hell follows and is in the vein of the first two songs. Hard but no orchestra in this one. Just a great hook.

Creek Mary's Blood is the first epic. It seems to tell the plight of American Indians. It really starts off very dreamy and soft. Then it builds with the orchestra and is a pretty big track. The chorus is another infectious one. Then three more regular length tracks before the monster of the album which makes Creek Mary's Blood, while a strong track, look pale. Ghost Love Score is a beast and the centerpiece of the album. It starts off with some nice work from the orchestra then after a minute goes into a more normal song with the orchestra in and out. The hook here is another great one that will stick for days. We get another soft part with a guitar solo thrown in. Then about half way through the orchestra begins to build. Then all hell breaks lose and Nightwish unleashes the orchestra on you. It will knock you down. The hard guitar and Tarja's vocals interject between some wonderful symphonic work. The theme from the beginning comes back and finishes off this absolute classic. I also love hearing the orchestra with drums, as not having them sometimes takes away from my enjoyment of classical music.

They can't finish the album with anything near as strong as GLS. The tenth track is sung in their native Finish and is another dreamy piece with strings playing a big part. Higher than Hope is a pretty good finisher. Another hard-soft back and forth song. The two bonus tracks are not bad. White Night Fantasy has the piano-guitar duo going together.

I have not really touched on the vocals. If you do not know the band, Tarja is really singing opera through out. That is her voice. If that turns you off, look elsewhere. She has great pipes and it all fits well. There are some male vocals which are rough but make a nice contrast in places. No cookie monster if you are worried.

I shouldn't like this music but it keeps drawing me back. These guys are power metal but with their desire to stretch out from that and bring in the orchestra, they really have a great made a great album here. I haven't bought any of their other titles but I am happy to have this. A solid four stars.

johnobvious | 4/5 |


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