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Nightwish - Once CD (album) cover

ONCE

Nightwish

 

Progressive Metal

3.64 | 158 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Nightwish is a band I first heard on progarchives, and one of the growing number of new progressive groups I've come to enjoy because of the site.

This is a band I have mixed feelings about, and the Once album is a good example why. There really isn't a bad song here, although some border on boilerplate composition and production such as "Planet Hell", "Romanticide" and "Dead Gardens". These three are typical of the sound heard on pretty much every Nightwish album, but none of them tell any particularly compelling story or demonstrate any really progressive elements. That said, the work as a whole is quite good, and my other comments are generally minor suggestions of how the band could have improved the work.

"Dark Chest of Wonders", the opening track, is a bombastic, attention-grabbing whirl of sounds, with the trademark operatic voice of Tarja Turunen piercing the multitude of keyboards, drums, strings, and backing vocals with alacrity and force. 8/10.

"Wish I Had an Angel" features an intoxicating guitar power riff and very catching and appealing chorus, which unfortunately is repeated at least six or seven times too many. This song demonstrates what happens when a great idea by the composer is not completely developed, but is apparently rushed right into the studio and filled out with repetition and filler supporting instruments. 7/10.

"Nemo" was, I believe, the first single from the album, and had a killer video I've read, although I personally haven't seen it. An interesting tune that benefits greatly from Tuomas Holopainen's very active and appealing keyboard work. 8/10.

"Planet Hell" also features some very good keyboard work and brilliant support from the Session Orchestra of London (who also accompany most of the rest of the album). I gather this is kind of an apocalyptic 'Beauty and the Beast' power ballad, nothing really special but very listenable and fits the mood of the rest of the album. 7/10.

"Creek Mary's Blood" has to be considered the pinnacle of this album. It is interspersed with chants and supporting instrumentation from some Lakota native Americans, very familiar to me since they are very prevalent here in my home of South Dakota. The message here is quite dark and pessimistic, basically a tale of ethic cleansing, greed and lust for conquest, massacres and bloodshed. The music builds to a kind of crescendo meant to demonstrate a building storm of bloodlust and destruction. Heavy use of the orchestra on this song, which clocks in at over eight minutes. I have no idea what the Lakotan speaker is saying at the end, but I assume there's some sort of moral or spiritual message there. Quite a departure for the band, while still retaining the core of their sound with a persistent drumbeat and Tarja's distinctive voice. 10/10.

"The Siren" strikes me as a bit of filler, although with pleasant enough vocals and a somewhat airy accompaniment. 6/10.

"Dead Gardens" and "Romanticide" as I mentioned before are a couple of rather by- the-numbers dark metal tunes with nothing to really distinguish them. Nothing wrong with them, really, just nothing noteworthy either. 6/10.

"Ghost Love Score", like "Creek Mary's Blood", is a notable departure both lyrically and musically for the band. This one clocks in at ten minutes, and appears to be an attempt to jam every instrument and voice on the album into a single track. It is hard to keep track of who is singing and playing (and what they're playing) as this one steamrolls to a climax. Very unique sound that frankly left me ready to take a break out of exhaustion. 9/10.

"Kuolema Tekee Taitei" is the next track, and I have no idea what this song was about, as it was sung in Finnish (or what I assume was Finnish). A very appealing little ballad to soften the mood though, and Tarja's voice approached a softness that can only be heard elsewhere on the opening track. 7/10.

"Higher Than Hope" is another metal epic with that builds to something of a crescendo and features the distinctive vocals and guitar sounds Nightwish is known for. A very nice closing piece to this album. 8/10.

All told this was a very worthwhile purchase, and although it is unlikely to stand the test of time as one of the top progressive albums of the decade, it is a CD that will undoubtedly get plenty of playing time by anyone who buys it (except possibly by the most banal prog elitists). A high 3 stars.

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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