Nightwish - Once review
|Release date:||June 2004|
01. Dark Chest Of Wonders
02. Wish I Had An Angel
04. Planet Hell
05. Creek Mary's Blood
06. The Siren
07. Dead Gardens
09. Ghost Love Score
10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan
11. Higher Than Hope
12. White Night Fantasy [bonus]
13. Live To Tell The Tale [bonus]
14. Where Were You Last Night [Ankie Bagger cover] [bonus]
+ Nemo [video]
Before hearing the 'Nemo' single, I was looking forward to this new album of Nightwish (one of my favourite bands by the way). After hearing this single I was even more looking forward to the full-length. After listening to Once a good dozen times, I realize I was so better-off before. I hate saying that, like almost all the fans it twists my bowels to criticize Nightwish, but Once is to me terribly disappointing. Maybe I've heard too much about it, about the use of an orchestra, about the heavier riffs, Tarja's best performance ever…
Though, the album starts off really well with 'Dark Chest Of Wonders' that ressuscitates a certain heaviness that was absent since Wishmaster. 'Wish I Had Angel' sounds a bit like Century Child's songs, but shows an excellent use of the vocals duet of Tarja Turunen and Marco Hietala. This song is a bit common but good anyway. 'Nemo' after that is a real killer, the kind of song that grows on you after twenty seconds and decides to live in your head forever. Undoubtedly this is the best song of the album, along with the following, 'Planet Hell', a really aggressive one, in the vein of Oceanborn. To keep going with the positive points, the use of the orchestra is brilliant. They were probably expected to fall in the trap of overusing it, as most bands do when they are given this chance, but no, the bits are cleverly dispatched here and there, without covering the rest of the music, without taking too much importance, actually the orchestra is here only to enhance the quality of some instrumental parts. It's all the contrary compared to the last Dimmu Borgir for example, and it's an excellent surprise, as I was expecting something like a new Therion-wannabe.
So you're gonna ask me, if I like it so much, why the hell do I say that I'm disappointed? Well, the answer is: reread the previous paragraph, and you'll notice I'm only talking about the first four songs. After these ones, the high standard of Once suddenly collapses. 'Creek Mary's Blood' is certainly the worst and lamest song they've ever dared record: it's supposedly an epic song… well, ok, then why, if it's epic, is it so cheesy and mellow? And what is with this Amerindian guy reciting his poem for two minutes without music? The whole song is based on good intentions and the will to create something different, but it's just so long… The rest of the album is better, but without real interest. I mean indifference quickly settles down, and the only thing that makes you realize Once is over is this strange and unusual feeling that your house is too quiet without loud music. I'm being nasty here, actually one song among the last seven caught my attention, the ballad 'Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan': I don't know whether I noticed it because of the singing in Finnish or the real quality of the song, but it's a nice ballad overall.
Finally, I hate sounding nostalgic, but when you hear Oceanborn and Wishmaster, admittedly their two masterpieces, and then this Once, don't you dare tell me it's the same level... Actually the best parts of Once are when Hietala sings. Brings out a bit of change, especially since I am also slightly disappointed with Tarja's voice, which doesn't sound as powerful as before. I have the bitter impression that Nightwish starts letting go, that they think they're the best, the leaders in their genre, so they don't have to work, in other words, I have the feeling that they've caught the Children Of Bodom syndrom. This is the reason for the low rating. You're not untouchable, so now c'mon guys, WAKE UP!
Highlights: the first four songs, plus Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan
|I would say that this is something as uncommon as a perfect (when it comes to rating) album with flaws! I used to claim that every perfect album needs to have unity, and be totally free of any letdown songs/flaws. And Once, plus a handful other albums, are the exceptions to the rule of mine.
Nightwish are one of the most professional bands out there. When I listen to 'Once', I can't find any flaws at all in the musicianship. All the good songs are perfectly completed compositions and their lyrics are tastefull and interesting. The choirs and orchestra are perfectly blended with the really Heavy Metal riffs and drums, and the piano/keyboard pieces are great. Toumas is probably the reincarnation of Mozart and I would guess that his father is Howard Shore or Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is soundtrack metal at it's finest. Since I love cheesy epic soundtracks, this of course appeals to me!
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From: The Netherlands
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