Nightwish – Once

i have read many reviews regarding nightwish’s album once, from people who did not like the album to those who think that this album is the best that they have done to date. nightwish is a symphonic/gothic metal band from finland that formed in 1997. they are probably the most popular metal band in finland, and their albums have gone to #1 in greece and hungary, and were in the top 10 in germany. what stands nightwish apart from most other metal bands is the opera trained vocalist, tarja turunen. some fans may be disappointed because her vocals are less operatic, and more straight forward. her opera training fits well within the complex arrangements of keyboardist and programmer tuomos.

once is a very different album from its predessors because it is probably nightwish’s heaviest album to date, and their most symphonic at the same time. tuomos is influenced by movie scores, and composers such as james horner and john williams of the boston pops. a lot of modern classical music would fit into this catagory. thus the sound on this album is bigger, brighter, and more epic than previous albums. the background music composed by tuomos is more complex and than anything that he has written before. for the orchestration, tuomos chose the london academy of st. martin in the fields orchestra, who also did the score for the lord of the rings.

in addition, guitarist emppu seems to be more influenced by groove metal/progmetal guitarists than the neo-classical metal that is characteristic of the region. songs such as “the siren,” “dead garden,” “dark chest of wonders,” “planet hell,” and “romanticide” are really aggressive and have the heaviness of recent metallica, dream theater, slipknot, and korn.

finally, bassist marco (recently acquired from the band tarot) adds complementing vocals, similar to the male vocals of lacuna coil, to tarja’s lead vocals, singing duet on songs “the siren,” “i wish i had an angel,” and “planet hell.”

overall, this album is probably the best album that nightwish has put out to date, and will hopefully introduce them to american audiences. americans tend to be extremly critical of bands that have a sound that they are unfamiliar with, and are from overseas. recently amercian metal audiences have accepted the band lacuna coil from italy, which was a part of ozz fest this summer. “i wish i had an angel” is going to be part of a soundtrack for a movie starring christian slater and tara reid, which will hopefully give the band the exposure to american audiences that they and their label are hoping for.

track list: dark chest of wonders/ wish i had an angel/ nemo/ planet hell/ creek mary’s blood/ the siren/ dead garden/ romanticide/ ghost love score/ kuolema tekee taiteilijan/ higher than hope

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