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Nightwish - Once CD (album) cover



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5 stars Personally I have loved nightwish since 1998 and have collected most every album that they have put out. I've had mostly posotive attributes but in some cases there were some flaws. Not in this album. Their genius has been taken to a new level and is very well portrayed with the full orchestra behind them. There are powerfull and exihlerating guitar riffs, technically amazing drums, raw bass lines, enchanting keyboards and who could forget Tarja. Her vocals are groundbreaking in this album. There is no ending to this vocalists talent.

Overall I believe "ONCE" is nightwish's best album yet.

Report this review (#33345)
Posted Tuesday, November 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well what can I say? i was introduced to Nightwish by some friends in Sweden and this was the first album I bought. I had heard Oceanborn before and thaught it was good but could have been better (no offence big Nightwish fans keep reading). I remember buying this album back in May or June of '04 and to this day I cant believe how truly amazing it is from the beauty of Tarjas vocals to the amazing solos by Emppu, I honestly believe that this is a perfect metal album. It will satisfy all types of metal fans with Hard hitting tracks like "Wish I Had An Angel" and Operatic masterpieces like "Ghost Love Score" (dont let that put you off metal fans, the latter contains one hell of a solo). To finish i have to say buy this album. Even if this is the first time you have heard of Nightwish by reading this reveiw I can almost guarntee it wont disappoint!
Report this review (#33346)
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A true masterpiece! A brilliant release from Finnland's finest progressive metal band. Before I heard this album, minor thoughts filled in my head. And I was wrong, this album really blew me away! Tarja's vocal is getting better and better. The music is also top notch! Bold, great compositions and beautifully polished with great orchestral arrangements. From the beginning, the track "Dark Chest of Wonder" directly blasts right in your face. So powerful! A great opener. It follows with a line of fine great tracks. You must hear it by yourself. And I am agree with other reviewers, ONCE is Number One!!! -Jakarta, Dec 10, 2004- 10:55 am
Report this review (#33347)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The beauty of this album lies on its catchy melody, heavy riffs, soaring and symphonic keyboard, wonderful operatic vocals, great orchestration and tight composition. Its music is heavily influenced by power metal and progressive metal ( such as Dream Theater, Symphony X., Ice Age, etc). If you like energy, power and headbanging, this album is for you. Especially in this album, Nightwish delivers their compositions with symphonic orchestra in full scale. For my personal taste, it suffices to say that this album is a remarkable performance by the band. It's a bombastic and ambitious venture that results an enjoyable music. For those of you who love neo prog music must learn to listen heavy guitar riffs before starting your journey with this album. Why? Neo prog bands rarely produce heavy riffs in their composition (exception is for Arena's song "Chosen" from "Immortal?" album which has sort of guitar riffs).

Composition-wise, this album is terrific; the music brings you smoothly through all passages of the album with various emotions. Almost all tracks are performed in an upbeat tempo with nice transition pieces augmented with beautiful orchestra. With this album, Nightwish has pushed their music further into a sort of symphonic progressive metal performed in operatic style. It leads their music unique with practically no competition. Some may compare with Rhapsody (featured also in this page) but the two are different. I love both of them and you may look at my review of latest Rhapsody's album Symphony of Enchanted Lands II.

This album blasts off with an energetic track Dark Chest of Wonders characterized by heavy riffs with soaring and classical keyboard by Tuomas Holopainen in fast tempo. The orchestration piece has successfully accentuated the song. The operatic voice of Tarja Turunen is really powerful. Halfway through the track, it has a short break (with no music at all)- very nice break- followed by heavy riff. This is a bold decision as it has made the music uplifting.

The next rack is a single Wish I Had an Angel with almost the same platform with previous track: fast tempo and melodic. It starts off with a choir led by the bass player, Marco Hietala. This time the keyboard plays at the background like a mellotron sound in typical art rock or neo prog music. Sometimes it accompanies guitar riffs during transitions. The vocal harmony between Tarja and Marco is really good. As this track is a single, the structure is simpler than opening track.

Another single Nemo starts off with a simple piano touch reminiscent of a nu-metal music (like Evanescence). After two fast tempo and uplifting tracks, this one is performed in a moderate tempo with nicer melody that tends to be poppy. The choir and orchestra are really good. During interlude there is a lead guitar solo by Empu; simple but nice.

Planet Hell kicks off with an ambient symphonic orchestra choir with violin / cello solo that provide excellent nuance for the song. It is then followed by a heavy riffs and Marco / Tarja vocal harmony. It's a very uplifting opening! The music then flows in a power metal stream. The background choir during Marco / Tarja duet is really nice. The interlude part with keyboard solo reminds me to Royal Hunt.

Creek Mary's Blood is probably the most melodic and mellow track compared to others. The band has removed the "heavy " riffs that characterize the metal vein and leave alone the pure voice of Tarja and the orchestra to perform the song. Story-wise, this song is based on a novel by Dee Brown with the same title about the life of Mary Musgrove who was the Creek wife of John Musgrove, an Indian Trader in 1731. It took place in 18th Century Georgia, U.S.A. Composition-wise it's definitely an amazing work combining catchy and memorable melody with a full stream of symphonic orchestra. It opens with a flute sound and an ambient choir in Indian language followed by stunning acoustic guitar with background orchestra. The beautiful voice of Tarja enters ."Soon I will be here no more. You'll hear my tale through my blood ." . uuggghh . what a sad (but nice melody) opening! In the middle of the track the music turns higher with amazing orchestration and flute work followed by soft riffs and drumming in moderate tempo. At the end of the track the band concludes with superb chanting, oration (in Indian language!) and flute performed by John Two-Hawks. No doubt, this track is wonderfully crafted, a masterpiece and has become my all-time favorite. Oh man . I love the band! [Tuomas, thank you for writing this superb track!].

The Siren is another favorite of mine. It opens with an orchestra followed with simple riffs. Tarja voice is backed by a nice choir and Marco's singing. The orchestra takes a stunning lead of the music with excellent violin solo in heavy riffs nuance. The female backing vocal / choir at approx. minute 2:50 reminds me to the music of Cirque du Soleil. (my apology for those of you who never watch or listen to the music of this circus. I recommend you to get the CD as well - it's definitely a progressive music!).

Dead Gardens brings us back to the heavy guitar riffs nuance and upbeat tempo with full energy; chanting voice of Tarja. It's an excellent track. It flows in similar vein with the next track Romanticide. The guitar melody appears more in this track. It's more on power metal vein where the orchestra does not appear much this time.

Ghost Love Score is an excellent epic that combines stunning orchestra, heavy riffs and operatic vocal and choir. The melody is really nice. This track is performed in relatively slow tempo. So, it serves similar purpose like "Creek Mary's Blood" to calm down from previously thumping beat tracks. In the middle of the track, I can sense myself as watching a kind like "Lord of the Rings" movie. Superb!

Kuolema tekee taiteilijan is very melodic and melow track with powerful delivery by Tarja. Even though I do not know the meaning (in Finnish?) but the melody is really touching, backed with great orchestra to accentuate the texture of this nice track. Higher Than Hope starts off with stunning acoustic guitar followed with Tarja's voice. The opening part is mellow but it turns higher in the middle of the track.

My CD is an enhanced CD Roadrunner's version and it has two bonus tracks White Night Fantasy and Live To Tell The Tale plus video clip of Wish I Had An Angel. Based on information from some friends of mine, the Roadrunner's version is the best one.

Conclusion : it's definitely an essential album and a masterpiece! There is no such thing as "mediocre" track, all are excellent! The minor critic about this album is on the volume of the record; it's too loud and sometimes disturb the purity of sound produced. But I understand the complexity of mixing this album as it combines metal with orchestra. Otherwise, superb! GW, Indonesia.


Thanks to the administrator group of progarchives who has approved my request to feature this band in this site. The band deserves for inclusion in this page as their music contains progressive passages.

Report this review (#33348)
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This band has nothing to do with progressive music. Plain keyboard oriented melodic metal, something quite usual. Nothing special here, although this album would convince even those who disliked the band. An attempt to sound heavier, to appeal to fans of "harder" metal music, the riffs are more muted, the production is heavier, but that classic boring structure of the songs hasn't changed. Tarja's voice is less and less operating and does not even stand a combination to other female metal singers, still she remains a major reason for the popularity of the band. I believe that Nightwish are so well accepted by fans due to the fact that they are not really aware of the existence of other bands of a similar style and a greater quality. As well as most of the band's albums(all except The Wishmaster I might say) this one is a waste of money and time.
Report this review (#33349)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Once", is the best of Nightwish album. The perfect combination of symphonic and metal elements. There are several ballad song on this album, such as Nemo, Creek Mary's Blood and Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan. Indeed those are easy listening songs which will makes Nightwish known by wider range of fans, not just progessive/ symphonic metal fans. Smart strategy. Here is my review to "Once" song by song:

*Dark Chest of Wonders - Agressive guitar opens song followed by orchestra instruments and offcourse the operatic Tarja's vocals. Speedy of guitar strength this song. *Wish I Had an Angel - Upbeat song, deeply enjoyable for headbanging. *Nemo - Nice piano opening, sweet voices, slice guitar. This song deserves into top 40 chart. *Planet Hell - Keyborad dominated, medium tempo. Standard prog metal song. *Creek Mary's Blood - Soft and sweet song, listened this song when you will sleep, as if Tarja accompany your sleep. *The Siren - Heavy guitar riffs in the intro, great violin solo. Amazing. My favourite song. *Dead Gardens - Great combination of rough guitar and soft vocals. *Romanticide - Song played more agressive than the others. *Ghost Love Score - Longest song (10:02), this song is energy of the album. *Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan - Shortest song (3:58), I really do not understand the lyric, but I feel sadness when hearing this song. Just listened when you're alone, believe you will cry. *Higher Than Hope - Romantic guitar opening, come afterward melow vocal, music begins slow litle by little louder and louder. Great composition.

Conclusion : "Once" is a masterpiece album. Great combination of symphonic and metal elements. Nightwisht deserves *****. torro-karawang-indonesia.

Report this review (#33350)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I just don't like this kind of music, nor I do find those prog elements (the long tracks and orchestrations don't make it prog!) everyone else seems to hear, but I shall put that aside now. This has cheesy power metal written all over it. I do enjoy many power metal bands, for example Sonata Arctica, Rhapsody etc. They combine that a bit humorous power metal sound with their virtuoso playing, and succeed at it. Nightwish's problem is that their music just isn't interesting! Sure; the singer Tarja Turunen is great, there's no point denying that, she has a wonderful voice and that classical training she's taken really shows. Nothing wrong with the musicianship either, it's not that. All the guys are professionals at what they do, except composing. **
Report this review (#33352)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Approaching the end of 2004, Finnish metal band Nightwish has delivered their finest, most complex, operatic, and up to date album called Once. Eleven beautiful tracks plus two bonus tracks including a video clip of "Wish I Had An Angel" compiled into one record. Undoubtedly, Once is their peak performance so far. Opened with a killer/metal/keyboards driven track "Dark Chest of Wonder", this song marks the starting of long journey once you stepped into this record. Tarja Turunen's operatic voice is at its best. Not only in this song, but the beautiful voice is also clearly heard across all the tracks in this album. The first single of the album, "Wish I Had An Angel" - as well as the next track "Nemo"-sound as dark as ever. Tarja Turunen and Marco Hietala (bass/vocals) beautifully exchanged vocals line during "Wish I Had An Angel", a dark song with catchy rhythm guitar nicely put by guitarist Emppu Vuorinen. My favorite lines in this song are ".old loves they die hard/old lies they die harder.". "Nemo" is even darker than the previous track. How could anyone would experience such pain as described in ".oh how I wish for soothing rain/all I wish is to dream again/my loving heart lost in the dark/for hope I'd give my everything." . Once again, Tarja's voice is beautifully penned down on this track.

"Planet Hell" is an angry track gloriously sung by Marco Hietala. I guess on this album marco has proved that he deserved one slot on vocalist chair along with Tarja. His thrashy and heavy voice is perfect match for the beautiful and operatic voice of Tarja Turunen. "Creek Mary's Blood" is the first epic offered by the band telling a story about the Indian tribe in America. You can feel the pain and anger at the same time expressed through ".white man came/saw the blessed land/we cared, you took/you fought, we lost/not the war but an unfair fight/sceneries painted beautifully in blood." The next track "The Siren" is very much sounding as somewhat a 'mysterious song'. I can't really get what they're trying to say with ".I tied myself to the wheel/the winds talk to my sails, not me/somewhere there my fate revealed/I hear but how will I see."

"Dead Gardens" and "Romanticide" are pretty much similar to Nightwish's previous efforts, songs with its rhythmic guitar driven style. If you were familiar with Nightwish's albums pre-Once, then you will understand what I am trying to say here. "Ghost Love Score" is the second epic offered by the band. The album is closed by a song in Finnish "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" and "Higher Than Hope". Can't talk much about the song in Finnish as I have no idea what it means, while the latter is a beautiful ballad about hope. "..passiontide/an angel by my side/but no Christ to end this war/to deliver my soul from the sword/hope has shown me a scenery/paradise poetry/with first snow I'll be gone."

If you're lucky enough to have Road Runner release, there are bonus tracks called "White Night Fantasy" and "Live To Tell The Tale". Both songs are worthy as a collection as well. I personally am happy and satisfied with this album. The next question is whether they would be able to take another journey beyond what they have achieved here. It is hard to tell, let alone to predict. But surely you can't miss this one.

Report this review (#33353)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you are a fan of pompous, overblown heavy metal of the most glorious kind, this is one of the best albums you'll ever hear. Finland's Nightwish consistently up the ante with each release they put out, and in 'Ghost Love Score' they have pretty much closed the book on Operatic, Symphonic Metal. There's no point anyone else trying because they WILL NOT top said magnum opus, which ties together the works of Metallica, Manowar, Kansas and the 'Lord Of The Rings' score in one easily digestible, ten minute work. It's not prog rock by any stretch of the imagination, hence the 3 stars, but it's bloody brilliant. And that should be enough, shouldn't it?
Report this review (#33354)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Eventhough Nightwish is not a "progressive" band at all, this album is a remarkable piece of symphonic/power metal. I think it is the best Nightwish album sofar! I'd give 4 stars for this piece rather than 5 since it is not really "progressive" but as a very strong fan of progressive metal, I'd say that this album is great when added to my progressive music collection afterall.
Report this review (#43086)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nightwish are very popular,as expected all over Scandinavia especially in Sweden as i noticed copies of "Once" at every gasoline station throughout the country.It doesnt matter what negative comment is placed towards this album its hugely popular and the simple fact of the matter is its a brilliant album.Its everything,(rock,pop,prog,symphonic metal,folk,operatic metal),one of the best albums of any musical genre released,in the last few years."Once will become over time seen as a total masterpiece of music it awesome".

Good but not essential,"give me a break",honestly i know all music is about one's own personal taste but sometimes there comes along an album that transends this description,and ONCE,transends.I have the platin edition of Once which is a luxury packaged cd like nothing i have ever seen, so it makes it even more special.

"Ghost love score" is a composition of epic proportions,and no matter what Nightwish release in the future this will be there gem its almost sublime music.

"Wish i had an angel",basic stuff with a headbanging groove thats hard to resist.

"Kuolema tekee taiteilijan",Finnish is one of the most beautiful languages when its especially vocalised,Tarja is not a great operatic voice in the classical sence but she is still miles ahead of most popular vocalists.

"Once is a sublime album that is hard to resist,its pure metal class".Its one of the best albums released in a number of years and one of the best albums on this site.

Report this review (#46198)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is not a band for everyone. This CD hit me at first- yes, I heard "ghost love score" and was inticed almost instantly. But after listening to the entire CD- it felt very shallow and empty. There isnt much to offer here. Some of the songs are just filler- and some songs are just plain annoying. Stay away.
Report this review (#46210)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I last reviewed an album by Nightwish, I talked about the bands devotion and commitment to a metal subgenre like no other. When bands dedicate their lives to music and create album after album of nothing but exciting music within that particular style or metal subgenre, they are bound to leave their mark on the music world for centuries to come. Bands like Dream Theatre (progressive metal), Opeth (progessive death metal) and now Nightwish (symphonic metal) will all be revered for their contributions.

When I first discovered Nightwish, I was instantly hooked on them. I have since turned many of my friends into Nightwish fanatics as well. Enough small talk already, lets get into the meat and potatoes of this album.

In a recorded interview, Tuomas explained that "they doubled all the elements"; he said they added more heaviness and more orchestrated parts into this new album. Further, most of the music is "based on very riff-laden song structures." The band also hired the London Session Orchestra to help keep that true "symphonic sound" in their music. For those of you wondering, the London Session Orchestra is also responsible for the Lord of the Rings soundtrack trilogy. Maybe that explains why there's a very strong "soundtrackish" feel to the album!

Like on all their albums, Nightwish demonstrates some really "heavy" interaction as you will find on most tracks. And they may have doubled the heaviness on some of the tracks but I don't think this album ranks as their very "heaviest." Perhaps their most varied piece of work but as a whole, not their heaviest. Each song goes through some pace changes with various musical ideas thrown into the mix. This is where the progressive elements come into play. Tuomas is a very good songwriter and you will find the album contains some wonderful musical arrangements and killer riffs, just makes you want to hear the album over and over again.

Tarja showcases her incredible vocal abilities and she sounds more relaxed and soothing than ever before. This is good as Tarja's voice can be somewhat overpowering at times. (I can't believe I just said that...) Her flexibility helps the music by allowing Marco the opportunity to shine and to let other instruments cut through the mix like Emppu's much improved guitar work.

There's also a lot of interesting little musical surprises spread out throughout the album. For instance, "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" is performed in Finnish, and we find a guest appearance by one John Two-Hawks, a native Lakota indian on "Creek Mary's Blood", and then there's even a song with "techno" influences! Should I give that one away? Not just yet, but everything comes to those who wait!

So what's so great about this CD? Well, besides being slightly ahead of its predecessor Century Child, Nightwish has found a way to mix a lot of different influences into their songs! There is more variety crammed into this new album than you will find on any other Nightwish release.

Song by Song review:

From the opening whispering moments of "Dark Chest of Wonders" when the guitars move in, I immediately had a happy smile on my face. The choir and orchestra blend into the music perfectly. Tarja's soft soothing voice sounds fresh to me. It's like she's well rested and having a lot of fun. In fact, the whole band feels well oiled and ready to go. This track is one of the highlights on the album.

"I Wish I Had An Angel" also put a smile on my face. Tarja along with several backing vocalist harmonize for an excellent intro just before the electronic elements make an entrance. You heard me right. It is a pure unashamedly techno beat juxtapose with the chorus of this track! And it works. Remember, it put a smile on my face, one of those little surprises I was talking about. Tarja and Marco share vocal duties on this one and the band simply delivers a great performance. I have to admit that after this track I was wondering where the band might be heading exactly? (Not to worry...that techno influence disappears just as fast as it appeared.) "Nemo" was the first single. Very typical Nightwish track, reminds of previous single releases. The blending of the classical music created by the London Session Orchestra and the metal elements of the band have never sounded better.

"Planet Hell" opens with orchestra and choir. At the one minute mark the band kick it in. Marco and Tarja share the vocals again and give a great performance. This track moves along rather quickly. The choir parts make you "jumpy"'ll have to experience this for yourself!

"Creek Mary's Blood" is an eight minute long epic track. It depicts the ethnic cleansing and massacre of entire native tribes. The song features everything from acoustic guitars, flutes, a full orchestra and a spoken poem read by John Two-Hawks. This is a highly emotional song, very dramatic. Me thinks a risky track for the band...but it certainly adds an element of surprise that's for sure.

"Siren" is an eastern flavored track with sitars and full orchestra reminding one of "Pharaoh Sails to Orion", an earlier track found on their Oceanborn release. Great vocal performances! More variety to round out the album...

"Dead Gardens" is a little heavier, more metal than symphonic. There are some interesting atmospheric elements here that requires time to digest. Very heavy riff, very heavy ending!

"Romanticide" continues where "Dead Gardens" left off. Very heavy track, great guitar solo, classic "beauty and the beast" vocal effect, although Marco does not growl like the best of them. You can still make out what he is "raging" about. This is a very complex track, a lot of technical stuff here, one of my favorite songs on the album.

But the albums apogee finally arrives with "Ghost Love Score." The band should be proud of this one. It is simply the hugest song Tuomas Holopainen has ever written. "Ghost Love Score" contains a little bit of everything the band is all about. Heavy guitars, choirs, orchestrations, varied tempos, different mood swings, soft parts and a killer chorus to boot. What else do you want? They doubled the efforts on this one for sure. This is so much bigger than "Beauty of the Beast" on Century Child. Simply the best song of the bands career? And no, I'm not kidding!

The album contains a soft ballad named "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan." The title translation goes something like this: "a death creates an artist!" They are proud to be Finnish and they are not afraid to let it show. Tarja sounds great and the choir, cello, piano and orchestra all work beautifully to create some outstanding atmosphere and soothing melodies. Simply beautiful, there's no better way to describe it.

The album closes with another power ballad "Higher Than Hope," another sad song and yet another powerful vocal performance by Tarja.

Concluding Remarks: "Once I had a dream and this is it..." are the first words Tarja whispers at the beginning of the album. And listening to the album once is all you need to experience the wonderful artistic expression that it is. At times intense and bombastic, sometimes atmospheric and soothing, a perfectly balanced and well rounded powerful symphonic metal album from beginning to end!

Report this review (#53835)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'd heard a lot about this album through ProgArchives and several underground heavy metal publications, such as Metal Maniacs ( and Pit Magazine ( I also know that this record tends to cause an ungodly amount of debate over whether or not it is "progressive". I don't know (I'll leave it up to other people to decide) and frankly...I DON'T CARE! Tarja Turunen's voice is fragile one second and powerful the next; in the same song, and often in the same breath. As a whole, the album demands a long review, but I'll try not to do that. I'll simply mention my fave tracks.

WISH I HAD AN ANGEL: Starting off with Tarja's angelic vocal, and moving swiftly through a variety of moods, always uptempo and always melodic. NEMO: This is my fave off the disc, and for good reason: I LOVE ballads! From the sugariest, scmalztiest pop to anything else in the pop genre, if it's a ballad, my heart will melt. Which is why I was so attracted to this tune. My only compaint is this: I so desperately wanted the guitar solo to last longer. It seems that it ends suddenly, and jarringly, just as Emppu really starts to burn. Also, the keyboards are kinda, well, twee. GHOST LOVE SCORE: See my likes/dislikes for NEMO, cause they're the same here that they are there. KUOLEMA TEKEE TAITEILIJAN: A beautiful ballad sung in their native Finnish. Beautifully sung; Tarja's voice is as clear as glass. And the melody takes my f^%&$#@ breath away. The solo violin speaks to me, gorgeously.

Despite the flaws with the disc (the production sounds too digital, what leads there are are FAR too short, Holopainen sounds kinda twee), this, to me, is fantastic, if only for the songs I've mentioned. With time, the other tracks will grow on me. If those that I've mentioned are any indication, I'm in for a hell of a ride! And it's here that I'll stop, cause I don't want this review to get too long.

Report this review (#60521)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#60601)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nightwish are one of my favourite Progressive Metal bands of all time mainly of metal being the best genre in the world, in my view anyway!!

You get the power of the metal fast/headbanging/power guitar riffs and is the best riffs you can get, I first got into thrash metal via Metallica and Slayer (yes overated but they hold a soft spot in my heart).

This album has strong symphonic arranged music with, operatic vocals and epic synthesizer solos and metallica influenced riffs (what more could you want!!!).

Here are my favorite tracks reviwed:

"Wish I Had an Angel" it blatantly has fast/melodic/powerful chords, the bass player provides the vocals, symphonic textures and a lovely track 4/5.

"Planet Hell kicks" orchestra introduces the track and features string intruments then the guitar riffs come in heavy riffs and the songs remains in a power metal content throughout, plus the duo harmonic vocal give it a little touch too!! 5/5.

"The Siren" opens with the symphonic orchestra and the metal kicks and the lead singer is accompanied by background singers., mainly orchestra driven. The female backing vocal and the running operatic vocal time of three minutes. 4/5.

"Ghost Love Score" epic and orchestral driven with heavy powerful chords and operatic singing thrown in for good cause.very melodic too!! but only 3/5!!

Kuolema tekee taiteilijan the mellow song is sang in Finnish and trust me Finnish is the language I can't speak, as usual you have orchestral and nice harmonics and is my most favourite track on the whole album!! 5/5

Highly recommended, especially Progressive Metal fans, and obviously the Nightwish fans and "Once" is my third favourite Nightwish album, my first "Century Child".


Report this review (#65406)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the disappointing "Century Child", I was expecting something better from Nightwish and indeed this album is a lot better. The duets Marco/Tarja work a lot better and the orchestral arrangements are much more present.

The opening "Dark Chest Of Wonders" is a great Nightwish song - the spirit of "Wishmaster" is back! "Wish I Had An Angel" is a good heavy song, maybe a little repetitive (not worth making it a single in my opinion). "Nemo" is classic Nightwish, very catchy music with the keys really present. "Planet Hell" is the "beauty and the beast" track of the album. And then comes masterpiece #1: "Creek Mary's Blood" - a beautiful power ballad with native american music/narration (nothing else to say - just hear that amazing track and get ready to be blown away). "The Siren" is another beautiful track, at the same time very heavy and very melodic with cellos, violins and Marco's voice really bringing something to the song. "Dead Gardens" and "Romanticide" are rather boring heavy tracks, the second one having an abrupt ending riff as if the band didn't know how to end that song. Then comes masterpiece #2: "Ghost Love Score" - an epic song, like "Beauty Of The Beast" on the previous album, but with even a higher quality... everything seems to fit perfectly - guitar, keys, vocals, choir, orchestra... simply a masterpiece of operatic metal. "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" is beautiful beyond imagination... I don't know a more beautiful song apart from Theatre Of Tragedy's "A distance there is" and My Dying Bride's "For My Fallen Angel". "Higher Than Hope" is a nice power ballad to close the album.

Rating: 90/100

Report this review (#65752)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A best selling album in Finland, a burst in popularity, and a questionable release according to veterean fans.

Nightwish's 2004 album Once, is an even more symphonic endeavour than the previous studio album Century Child. The album recieved amazing support in Finland, as the femme vocaled ensemble had brought metal into the more mainstream. Veterean fans do not give the album such positive reviews. The album isn't anymore poppy than previous releases. It's actually much more symphonic and progressive, so Nightwish were definately not going for bigger popularity. What's the problem then?

The guitars are the most notable negative point of the album. They are much more distorted and much more prominent in the mix than on previous albums. They sometimes seem to be misplaced throughout many of the songs. I would have prefered to see more melodic guitar playing than overpowering rythymn lines from Empuu Vourinnen.

The vocals are another negative point. Tarja Turunen's vocals lack both range and dynamics. Turunen's vocalsseems to be inferior to female singers of this genre like Floor Janssen from After Forever. Marco Hietala's vocals don't contrast or compliment Turunen's vocals. Hietala's power metal style is a little to rough around the edges to fit in this more symphonic oriented album.

The keyboards from Tuomas Holopainen are the saving grace of the album. Holopainen mangages to use a variety of synths for each song, and still shows excellent ability to play the melodic lines that give substance to the song. Nightwish has always been a band more focused on keyboards than other instruments. Holopainen also did a great arranging the orchestral parts.

The orchestra is the other reason why this album is worth a listen. The orchesta has a variety of uses throughout the album, each song features different ways to best use parts of the ensemble between strings, reeds, and brass.

The drums and bass don't factor too much in the quality of the album. They are present, but not prominent.

The production is excellent except for the guitars. They are quite overpowering and misplaced. The bass is a little dirty though, but it adds contrast with the full orchestra.

A three star rating is all that can be afforded for an album with such flaws. It has bright points, but it's far from perfect and caters to more recent Nightwish fans.

Report this review (#67108)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 9/10

I apologise for the length of this one but I felt nothing shorter could do this at times wonderful album justice. Great use of the London Orchestra also!

Dark Chest Of Wonders: fast, edgy and loud. Vintage Nightwish. Some interesting experimental bits including the Rasputin Effect in the middle (just when you think it's dead.) 7/10

I Wish I Had An Angel: takes a bit of getting used to but once you do, it's fantastic. Tarja sings the verse and Marco the chorus. More religious images (as you may guess from the title. The line "I wish I had and angel, your Vigin Mary undone" caused a certain bit of eyebrow rising. Wonderful haunting bit of wind instrument playing in the middle and Tarja's backup to Marco's singing later on in wonderful. Say what you like but the woman can really sing, even if Marco sounds like his vocal chords are being torn out near the end. 9/10

Nemo: one of my favourites. Beautiful song, fantastic finish, a worthy Rasputin in the middle/end, all over a great performance. 10/10

Planet Hell: starts off with an ominous beat, only a beat and the voices with a steadily growing melody line behind it. It wouldn't be altogether out of place as a theme tune to a Batman movie- or some other slightly dark film based ona comic, visions of dark alleys and cityscapes for some reason. Then it really goes bananas before Marco starts with the first verse. Then Tarja and...we're into another Nightwish song. You can tell it's Nightwish, it just has that feel. Louder and more in your face then much of their other stuff. And Marco sounds suitably evil in his one rowled 'talky' line. 7.5/10

Creek Mary's Blood: one of my favourites and one of the two highlights of this album. Starts with male chanting and some sort of woodwind instrument- pipes. Then the beautiful, deceptively simple melody. The story of the massacres and cruelties of so-called 'ethnic cleansing', including a reference to the Trail of Tears, the 'Nunna daul Tsuny' where over 4000 Cherokee Indians died of starvation and exposure on a cruel 1000 mile forced 'removal' from Georgia in winter of 1835. Simply beautiful. Long one, over eight minutes. 10/10

Dead Gardens: hmm.rather like Romanticide and The Siren.and to a lesser extent Planet Hell and even Dark Chest of Wonders. 5,5/10 for repetitiveness.

Romanticide: a slightly discordant psychotic opener leaves you going 'wow, what just happened?' Then Tarja sounding amazingly clear and tuneful considering she's only moving slightly slower then a full-out rap. Definitely not my favourite, but still worth a listen. Maybe it takes a few listens before it pulls you in. Another talky in the middle, with Marco's voice growling out, low and fast-rather like as in 'The Kinslayer' 5.5/10

Ghost Love Score: what can I say.sitting there with my mouth open. Beautiful, beautiful sound. Epic, sweeping, fantastic. Parts of it is the sort of music they could have played in LOTR as the camera pans over the mountains and across the valleys of Middle Earth. Opener lasts over a minute before there's any singing but it amazingly doesn't drag. In fact, when the singing DOES start for the first couple of lines I found myself saying 'Go away Tarja,I'm listening to the music. Then the harmonies start I could babble for the full 9+ mins that this song lasts so I'll stop now (and go back to listening to it!). Listen to the chorus ("My fall will be for you.") just once and I DARE you not to be enraptured! One thing I don't altogether like about Nightwish is the often rather teen-angst lyrics. Sometimes it seems like the lyricist is about two inches from jumping over a cliff-but for this it really works. The music and words interweave beautifully. 20/10

Higher The Hope: starts with an almost medieval/renaissance sound-think 'Greensleeves' only more complex. Then the stressed metal blasts in. And is pulled back into the background so Tarja's beautiful voice can be heard. Not my favourite one-bit unnecessarily angsty, but still a damn good track. What's with the random talking in the middle of the song? It's something they do a lot, I've noticed. It works sometimes but it can very easily be overdone. 6/10

The thing I like about Nightwish is that even many of their less-good songs are still as good or better then much of the other stuff out there. WHY must the radios insist on playing Britney and Christina and interminable boybands when THIS is around? And why is Ireland seemingly the only European country that they don't play in? Lyrics can be a bit adolescent but music rarely below amazing. Very talented and hard to pigeonhole band. Having listened to later albums, I'd suggest they mature as they go, if that's thee right word, but this has some wonderful pieces- Creek Mary's Blood, Nemo, Ghost Love Score and Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan in particular. IF you want a really wide ranging taste of all their stuff try the Best of- the latest album, and last with Tarja singing. (Highest Hopes, The Best of Nightwish, 2005). 9/10

Report this review (#72583)
Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent album, but not my favorite of Nightwish's work. Sometimes it just feels to heavy, and Tarja's voice seems weaker than on previous works. It is also less technical than their previous albums. However, it is still excellent. Especially "Ghost Love Score", which i think is one of Nightwish's best songs. The use of orchestra is very good, and does add much to the album.
Report this review (#88267)
Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The masterpiece known as Once, although updated with a brand new album art, which stands out much better than its predecessor. and complete with 2 bonus tracks.

White Night Fantasy is nothing too special by the band, it sounds alot like a demo they were working on, but all in all the song is very relaxing and soothing.

Live to Tell the Tale is the opposite starting over with a very high melody and catchy rhythm, thhe song kicks in. And you are just caught up in it...wondering where it will go next.

A Great release..BUY this, too hear some of their best work ever.

Report this review (#94132)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nightwish, one of the only progressive metal, or metal for that fact, bands that has a tolerable virbrato voice. I personally am a person who dislikes the genre of Opra, and mostly because of the vocal styles. Nightwish however, is a band worth giving a shot. Once, is a great album, and a good listen. An awsome song happens to be White Night Fantasy, which is a bonus track on the US version, it's got incredible vocals. Not to include the lead singer is very attractive. There are good songs littered throughout this entire album. Once is probably some of Nightwishes finest works. I have only heard Once and Wishmaster, and I like Once better, but they're very close in the relations. Nemo is the main song of the album but there is also other qualities such as Planet Hell, Ghost Love Score, and more! (To lazy to type all the good songs, most of the are good!) 4/5 for Nightwish, give 'em a shot, they're really good and Once is a nice addition to the collection!
Report this review (#95553)
Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good but non-essential

I love Nightwish, their dark lyrics and the symphonic-metal compositions of Tuomas Holopainen. I consider Tarja's operatic vocals are wonderful and so the contrast between heavy riffs and symphonic passages. Definitely all this features have been the brand of a transcendent band in music history.

However I must admit that this is a mediocre album. I don't mean it's terrible but definitely it's far away from the early recordings: "Oceanborn" and "Wishmaster". This album is like stepping backwards to a mature but simpler style, so commercially oriented.

"Once" is a dark album influenced by plain heavy metal bands from the 90's like Metallica, Testament and Exodus and the 80's death metal scene. Their style is less technical and centered more on heavy riffs than on finest compositions.

The vocals of Tarja's are far away from their glorious days; tracks like "Dark Chest of Wanders", "Nemo" and "Romanticide" are plain short rock songs with repetitive riffs, insipid solos and in general terms, lacking technical composition.

Probably the best track is "Ghost Love Score", a unique epic composition with good symphonic arrangements. This is the only track that personally I consider that's worth enough to purchase this album.

"Koulema Tekee Tajteilijan" is an acoustic good track that reminds "Angels Fall First" album. "Higher Than Hope" is a cheesy enjoyable ballad that reminds me Stratovarius in the album "Visions".

There's series of interesting changes from previous recordings: the vocals of Marco Hietala fits good with their style giving a heavier approach to the band. There are arabic music influences, flute lines and an epic ambient.

The concept of the album still preserves the mystic from previous recordings but the performance isn't that good. Probably the lack of beauty in Nightwish music is due to internal problems among the band. Indeed Tarja was asked to leave the band after this release.

In conclusion, this band is losing his magic, the will of heading for a new style heavier is been sacrificed for a less in their technical. Despite "Ghost Love Score", there is no more important innovation to the music with this album. Even though a decent album, a must for fans but it's a possible disappointment. If you're interested in purchasing this album I recommend the US expanded version which has two bonus and the video of "I Wish I Had An Angel".

Report this review (#105034)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I regret buying this album.

The tone of the guitar is not to my liking. It is a very raw sound, but has some quality that disgusts me, I can't quite put my name on it (reminiscent of Metallica). The guitar is a major sound here too. A violent, distorted, growling, belching noise which makes me cringe.

The synths are typical of this type of metal. Often, they are rather ambient.

Nightwish do not "show off" their musicianship nearly as much as many prog-metal bands (symphony x, for example). Likely, there is not as much to show off.

If you are a fan of Metallica and symphonic metal, this album may please you. I don't, it's a style I kind of outgrew.

Ultimately, I rate this album so poorly because of standard composition, poor writing (lyrically and musically), and lack of imagination.

Report this review (#114857)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Being a big Nightwish fan, I was really disappointed by this album. Former works contain very unique sound of this band, yet they tend to be underrated by the fans for some reasons I don't know. On "Once" we can hear much heavier music than usual + orchestra + choir. These things made their songs typical gothic metal among lots of similar bands. The only good song is an epic "Ghost Love Score", others are just in the shadow of it.
Report this review (#127639)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the best symphonic metal album I've heard. NIGHTWISH turn up the volume and the power, and deliver a sequence of crushing songs with immediate appeal.

This album represents both a refinement of their previous work - they still deliver a combination of power metal and ballads, with an epic or two thrown in - and also a sea change in production terms. The addition of an orchestra and the prominence given to the guitar creates a much fuller sound even than their previous album. NIGHTWISH are now the biggest sound in symphonic metal, a genre where bigger is definitely better.

The album begins with three outstanding tracks. 'Dark Chest Of Wonders' is a great opener, with the extra jaw-dropping moments one expects from a band high on self-confidence. 'Wish I had an Angel' is a sensational track, with HIETALA's vocals finally delivering on their promise, his guttural delivery providing the perfect counter to TURUNEN's operatic tones. The new sound is exactly what is needed to capitalise on such superior songwriting. 'Nemo' is the first slower song, but it still delivers a punch along with it's beauty.

What you're getting here is a band at the top of their form. Read the reviews to find out how difficult long-time fans of the band found this new sound to accept: but for the first-time NIGHTWISH listener, this is the place to start.

Things settle down for a moment. 'Planet Hell' isn't a great track. 'Higher Than Hope' could have been placed here. The album marks time - until 'Creek Mary's Blood', which is an interesting conceptual piece based around a contribution by John Two Hawks. NIGHTWISH are developing a sense of how to construct an album, giving the listener some space rather than a full-on assault for an hour, and this track serves that purpose. In less confident hands it could have sounded cheesy at the least and, at worst, racist.

Three competent tracks follow, none of which would be disgraced on any NIGHTWISH album but which are a little overwhelmed here. Perhaps I'm being a little unkind: 'The Siren' is an excellent track. Then comes the album's outstanding track, the evocative, climactic 'Ghost Love Score.'

It's inevitable that something so outrageously dramatic is criticised for - well, being outrageously dramatic. Sorry for those whose emotions embarrass them. I luxuriate unashamedly in the rush I feel when this track plays. I don't need to tell you what it's like: the title says it all, really. A movie soundtrack for some dark gothic fantasy or other, to be listened to at window-shattering volume.

Some songs follow, a couple on the 2002 release, four on the 2004 re-release. I don't care about them. 'Higher Than Hope' is pretty good, actually, the highlight being the excellent guitar. 'White Night Fantasy' is also popular. But my emotional energy is spent. The album ought to have finished with 'Ghost Love Score'.

This is by no means a perfect album. But it is hard to conceive of its heights being any higher. If you want to add symphonic metal to your progressive music collection, start here.

Report this review (#143798)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Nightwish's pinnacle. Everything they have wanted to do with their sound is actualized on Once. Complete with a full orchestra and choir, the band is able to harness the full capabilities of opera and symphony music and implement them into their trademark sound. This result is a huge, epic sound that maintains the accessibility of before. The highlight of this album is the over-10 minute "Ghost Love Score," which showcases the band's writing at full force. I would have been happy with just that one song, but luckily the rest of the album is great too. They were never as ambitious as Therion, but, they didn't need to be. This album solidifies that.
Report this review (#150947)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#152258)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Going commercial and getting better while doing it

By the time Once was released, Nightwish had turned into a strange phenomenon. I was traveling through Sweden near that time and I remember walking down the streets of Stockholm, and where ever a music store could be seen they would all be slathered with Nightwish posters, cd releases (all their albums and singles), and banners all down the street hanging from buildings. I can't say I wasn't fascinated by this, and I'd had a couple of their albums already, so I wound up walking out of the stores with a special edition of the album. I guess their selling schemes work after all. Anyways, this has always been an interesting album to me just because of the press and interest around it.

As for the album itself it seems that Nightwish has fallen prey to the general music industry that demands some kind of normality from bands, but combined with the obscurity of some of their older works this makes for a great mix! Tarja has tuned down her voice a notch so that she's less of an opera queen and more of a (*gasp*) singer. The opera feel is still there in many tracks, but as visible right off the top of the album things have changed quite a bit. The band seems to also have noted how to write singles by this point, because there's quite a few on this album. Most of the commercially successful songs on this album are very enjoyable despite the fact they've grown a bit big on the commercial side of things (there's not many bands that can say they've had singles printed on coffee mugs as Nightwish have with Wish I had an Angel). This album does what Nightwish has always done very well - short songs well structured with good hooks and choruses as well as longer songs with a less conventional structure that stand out among the others. Someone else noted in a review for this album that this is where everything the band was trying to do since the beginning all came together, and I agree.

Where the short songs are at their best is when they're heavier than hell. The first four songs on the album all do this, whether it be the frantic almost fearful Dark Chest Of Wonders, the ultimate bass test for any speaker system Wish I Had An Angel, the cold hearted Nemo or the frightening Planet Hell. Each of which is the pure metal side of the band, but each very satisfying. The guitars are mean, the bass is heavy, the drums are less predictable than they used to be and the vocals are much easier to inject than some of the band's early works. Also notable is the more forward presence of the conjoined male vocal parts which have been more far-and-few up until this point. Planet Hell is almost completely voiced by someone other than Tarja. Some of the other short songs are more progressive (less conventional) in structure such as the single The Siren and the song with one of the biggest jumps in tone and speed in the middle of the song that the band has ever done with Romanticide.

Then we have what is of more interest to the proggers, the long songs - which are each very well done. The first of which on there is Creek Mary's Blood, a brooding and evil sounding song with a surprisingly folk feel behind it's malevolence. Wonderful orchestration met with chanting in the middle makes for an excellent lead into some more heavy instrumentation and orchestration in the song coming to the end. However, then we get to what is likely Nightwish's greatest achievement (with Tarja at the helm anyways) with Ghost Love Score. This is the prog song the band had struggled to make up to this point. Wonderfully winding instrumental passageways led by an evil string section and a heavy bassline introduce the vocals and the guitar kicks in once more when the harmony parts come in. This one just builds and builds until it finally reaches an excellent ending which will leave any prog-metaller satisfied.

While unfortunately this album would be the end of an era for the band this remains as likely the best release by the band with Tarja at the helm. Everything that Nightwish does right comes together here and makes for an excellent release. Fans of the band will be absolutely amazed while many other prog metallers should be kept interested for quite song time. 4 dead gardens out of 5, recommended to people who like dark, heavy music.

Report this review (#177024)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Once' - Nightwish (5/10)

Nightwish is a band with a very distinctive sound; characterized by the powerful operatic voice of their singer, Tarja Turunen. While theres incredible talent to be found here, there's something that feels very lacking here. There are some great, mind-blowing tracks on here such as the film score inspired 'Ghost Love Score,' but alot of this music is nothing more than general symphonic metal; and were these instrumental tracks, there would be no way of telling this great band apart from the countless symph-metal bands in a sea of mediocrity.

Tuomas Holopanien has proven to be a very able and brilliant composer, and if he utilized his talents to the extent he does on the more serious compositions more consistently, I would have no problem giving this a great rating.

As it stands, the only two amazing songs for me to be found here are 'The Siren' and the aforementioned 'Ghost Love Score.' 'Ghost Love Score' in particular is of special note because it uses orchestration to the point of giving the song a true motion picture soundtrack-like quality to it; it is a song that would not sound out of place resonating in any theater.

'The Siren' delves into greek mythology, and has a strong neoclassical feel to it. The chorus works wonders, and is a magical moment I kept rewinding to listen to over and over again. Tuomas really knows how to counterpoint vocals very well.

The rest of the music here though is very mainstream metal sounding. Mind you, being 'mainstream' does not by any means automatically condemn, but I really wish there could have been more ambitions involved with this project. It's alright, and I gave it the few listens it deserved, but now is time to move on... Three stars.

Report this review (#207237)
Posted Sunday, March 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was expecting to like this album a lot because I do like female singers fronting Metal bands, and obviously NIGHTWISH have been fairly successful. I was surprised at the Power- Metal style here as I wasn't expecting that. I don't mind that style but it's not a favourite by any means. The other thing was the vocals which just don't do much for me surprisingly enough. Just not a fan of her vocal tone really. The added orchestra and choir are also things i'm not big on but don't mind. I do like the heaviness though, and I can appreciate why this Finnish band is so popular.

"Dark Chest Of Wonders" kicks in heavily with some nice riffs. The keyboards are prancing around. Vocals after a minute. It turns even heavier and we get that Power-Metal-like rhythm. "Wish I Had An Angel" has these catchy riffs before it settles with reserved vocals. We get male and female vocals on this one. "Nemo" opens with piano as heaviness kicks in. Themes are repeated. Nice guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes. "Planet Hell" features the orchestra and choir rather prominantly. It kicks in around a minute. Male and female vocals on this one too.

"Creek Mary's Blood" is a nice change with the native chanting, acoutic guitar and flute. Strings too and it's pretty uplifting around 2 1/2 minutes. Native spoken words come in late. "The Siren" sounds really good to open and it settles when vocals come in. Some sitar in this one as contrasts continue. "Dead Gardens" builds to a nice crunchy sound quickly. Vocals join in. Love the sound from 3 1/2 minutes to the end. "Romanticide" is a top three track with the excellent guitar and drumming. "Ghost Love Score" features lots of orchestra and we get some choir early. "Kuolema Tekee Tateihjan" is sung in Finnish with some orchestration and acoustic guitar. "Higher Than Hope" is mellow with reserved vocals before it kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. Contrasts continue.

Good album but not a 4 star record in my books.

Report this review (#222979)
Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#231814)
Posted Saturday, August 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nightwish at it's best, and some less inspired songs...The best track Nightwish ever made is on this album, and it's "Ghost Love Score". This track alone is worth the acquiring of this album. If you love great chorals, "classical" orchestra, melody and lots of dramatics, Ghost Love Score delivers. It's absolutely unique. The rest of the album has some very good tracks (Nemo, Creek Mary's Blood) and some which are not very noteworthy. In the end I love this album mainly because of Ghost Love Score, and if you like bombastic over-the-top music like I do, it's an essential album. 4 well deserved stars, essential for anyone who loves bombastic symphonic metal with operatic vocals.
Report this review (#237841)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Business as usual.

Same metal lines, same opera-oriented vocals (even if special), same recipe than their previous "Century Child". Some sort of Broadway musical with a metal edge topped with the appearance of an orchestra. Same comments as before: it sounds more and more as an "Ayreon" clone to my ears.

Can't get thrilled by such a work to be honest. I only came to this band on the tip of my niece (seventeen years old) and I was quite favourable to their debut album which was quite original. But the band was unable to renew themselves and the music offered sounds as déjà vu for a hundred times.

The magic is gone as far as I'm concerned. Creativity sits next door and there are hardly any surprise to listen to this album. Some decent metal, with a slight prog angle; that's what I retain from "Once". A song as "Planet Hell" is a real downhill to? hell! Really cliché and pitiful. It is compensated by a more original "Siren". Oriental mood are quite welcome: it finally breaks the unity of sounds available on most of the album.

All songs (but two) are again shortly formatted (three to five minutes range) and offer little room for inventiveness. "Dead Gardens" is the archetype of a heavy metal partition without any attraction and the pompous "Romanticide" is just too much, frankly. Only growling are missing.

Under these circumstances, the sweet, light and peaceful "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" provides such nice and moving moments. Quite welcome should I say. and one of my preferred track on this album. I also quite appreciate the mix acoustic / metal riff of "Higher Than Home". At least it sounds some more diverse than their usual production.

Let's now talk about the two longer pieces.

They are indeed much better. Closer to my concept of progressive metal; which means a definite prog flavour: melody, harmony, good balance between the band and the orchestra, not too many metal lines. In all "Creek Marys Blood" is a quite well achieved song. The closing section with some American Indian words sounds truly different. A highlight.

The longest song from the album "Ghost Love Score" is also on the plus side even if it seriously leans towards a musical. At least, the vocal harmonies are fine and some folkish passage is also more than welcome.

In all, I would say that this album is being saved by the two mini epics and a couple of softer/acoustic songs. Only therefore, I rate this album with three stars.

Report this review (#245126)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album achieved massive success worldwide and even went gold. I can see why...

Ok, I'm kind of annoyed at Nightwish, due to the fact that after Wishmaster, they stopped writing intresting neo classical sounding songs and went for a more Within Temptation sound (power chords and an orchestra following them basically.) But, what annyoed me even more, was that I love this album. Nightwish almost became a new band, one of the best live ones I have ever seen as well. The guitars had been powered up with amazing distortion, double bass pedals were used to punch the listeners ears, Tuomas decided to learn every instrument in the orchestra (not really, but It sounds that way, and Tarja started to learn how to control her opera style and even use a more poppy sounding vocal. The result was a band that sounded like a polished version of Within Temptation (I have nothing against Within Temptation, but there is a point were the orchestra needs to be toned down a bit.)

This also one of the heaviest albums I have ever heard and one of the most well produced. This album reminds me of one of those albums where if a wrong not was struck, then you wouldn't notice.

1. Dark Chest Of Wonders - Amazing riffs, catchy, epic, and kickass. What an intro. Very memorable.

2. Wish I Had An Angel - The use of industrial sound electronics was a bit cheesy, but it worked. The music behind the song may have sounded like Rammstein jamming with the Philharmonic, but it worked, great vocals from Marco & Tarja and a very catchy chorus.

3. Nemo - I must have played this song a thousand times, but the beauty never is lost. Very cathcy and there must be at least 10 key changes in the song, but you never notice if you are playing. Incredibly well structured and beautiful.

4. Planet Hell - One of the best songs I have ever heard. No seriosuly. It's so epic and powerfull, amazing chorus and amazing vocal performance from Marco and especially Tarja. If you haven't heard this song, listen to it now, it very may well changed your life.

5. Creek Mary's Blood - This song was quite nice. I liked the Native American influences, but that weird guy who keeps on following them around on the End Of An Era DVD, Chief MooMoo or something like that was a bit annoying. The key change in the song I think wasn't that good and felt a little rushed.

6. The Siren - I loved the fact that this song was built more on music rather than vocals. The instrumental sections are amazing and Tarja and Marco really give it there all to make the vocals sound just as good to match the instrumentals. Amazing and suprisingly catchy.

7. Dead Gardens - Very metal and very kickass. I also loved the lyrics, which kind of showed that the song is the end of Tuomas' childhood like mind. Very effective and dramatic.

8. Romanticide - This song is anout Tarja, and it's very funny, cause I don't think she noticed when she was singing it, and it really matches what is said in Bye Bye Beautiful, "Did you ever read what I wrote you." Still a great song. A lot more metal.

9.Ghost Love Score - Very epic and dramatic. This song could only be topped on the next album (The Poet & The Pendulum). They also play this song amazing live.

10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan - A lovely's also quite Finnish people though.

11. Higher Than Hope -A nice epic way to end an album.

CONCLUSION: Wow, a kick in the face really. Buy it now, and wear a hemlet.

Report this review (#260954)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Once" marks the farewell "Tarja Turunen" of the band. The album is heavier than "Century Child". The production quality develops further. It seems they have learned a little from the mistakes of the previous disc. "Dark Chest of Wonders" is full of riffs, aggressive bass ... characteristics as the standard normal to the bandwidth. The big difference is the return of rhythmic variation greater than "Century Child".

"Wish I Had an Angel" and "Nemo" were hits on the radio. The first is aggressive with the participation of "Marco Hietala" on vocals, while the second has more rhythmic, almost a ballad.

It is observed that since the first album, "Angels Fall First" to "Nemo", the musical evolution of the band also became the band's sound more commercial. Before there was a certain air of innovation in the album "Oceanborn" and "Wishmaster", then the band has not remained as precursor of a style, but followed the trend, so were his last two works, "Century Child" and "Nemo".

With the image of a weeping angel on its cover, "Once" is the last studio album yet to have a lighter color, the two subsequent albums have highlights to darker shades.

"Creek Mary's Blood" is a ballad band's official, which allows a simple fingerings and guitar solo.

A real orchestra participates in this album, not limited to synthesizers "Tuomas". The production of this album was exquisite, majestic and audible instruments not overlapping each other.

In short, "Once" is the more polished and better produced than any previous one. The musicians were improved greatly. Regarding the "Century Child" was a sure step, but looking at the whole discography of the band no longer has the same splendor.

It may be that with new hearings to change any thing in view but so far the impression is that.

Report this review (#745258)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Goddamn batman, how could it be so popular between teenagers and young girls t-shirts around here? Poor children of today.

First of all, Tarja voice was incredible. I like her. And it had some nice keyboards sometimes. But I just can't understand the hype. The compositions are not special. They are all great musician, but hell, I thought that "Can I Play With Madness" (Iron Maiden) had the worst boring intro ever until I Wish I Had An Angel.

Nemo is the most commercial and well known song here, and the media is right, this is the only good track of the album.

Report this review (#967755)
Posted Friday, May 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Nightwish, the Finnish band that uses a hard-riffing combination of power metal, opera, and stage musical delivers a solid but not outstanding release with Once.

Nightwish is that kind of band that sort of takes a special person to really love, mostly because they combine not one... but two power metal gimmicks: female-led vocals, and use of symphony to support the aggressive guitar- driven riffing. The result is a lush, sweeping, romantic, heavy metal, and incomparably cheesy experience. Once pulls this off better than a lot of other bands that use these two gimmicks, but doesn't do so without a few yawns in the mix.

First off, the good stuff: the musicianship on this album is first rate, and the symphony inclusions are actually quite smart. Unlike some metal bands which sort of just have the violins provide a counter-melody for the guitar players, Nightwish finds very creative and organic ways to make use of the full symphonic experience. The result is an exciting and very full sounding experience. At times, it really does feel more like the guitar and drums are accompanying the symphony. This gives the best parts of Once a feeling of gravitas that is unique and a lot of fun. There aren't much in the way of stand-out instrumental soloing, but the result of the compositions is strong and sweeps you up.

The writing is very hit and miss though. A few standout tracks like the massive opener, Dark Chest of Wonders, the highly nuanced and evocative Creek Mary's Blood, and the cinematic spectacle of Ghost Love Score are the clear standouts. The other tracks are largely forgettable, though their powerful melodies and moments are fun while they last. A few songs feel directionless when taken as a whole, or make easy choices and become more standard, 4-minute head bangers.

Finally, let's talk about the vocals. This is the last Nightwish album to feature vocalist Tarja Turunen. Read the reviews above and you'll see adjectives like "angelic," "beautiful," or "elegant," used to describe her voice. In my opinion, this is fanboy gushing. Her voice is demure and largely inflectionless, especially during the powerful moments. I'd take a less classically trained singer who could at least emote genuinely any time. Her voice is a unique part of the album that gives it a nice charm, but is definitely not a selling point, nor are the eye-rolling lyrics she sings. The male backing vocals, which are gruff and aggressive, are more appealing. Vocals are the second gimmick that just doesn't work for me here.

So even with a few marks against it, Nightwish's Once remains a worthy purchase for fans of power metal, and especially those seeking something especially theatrical and artsy. This isn't the place to begin listening to Nightwish though, I recommend the band's following two albums for that, which feature more interesting songs and better female vocals.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#1496483)
Posted Friday, December 4, 2015 | Review Permalink

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