Nightwish – Once

     Once, the fifth (or 4th or 6th, Over The Hills And Far Away E.P.) studio album from Nightwish, reminds me of Wishmaster. There are mini-epic’s on Once and there are a couple on Wishmaster also; although Once is not a guitar orientedalbum, the symphony took precedence over lead playing.

    The opening line to the album, “Once I had a dream and this is it.” Could have just as easily have been, “Once I had innocence, where is it?” I say this because within the album entire the question is asked in a couple of different ways.
     Most notable on the album right away is the songs do not seem as stiff as those on Century Child, (whether this is due to the band being more comfortable in the studio setting with a newer member or that the song were just simpler for them to play, Once finds its groove quickly and never loses it).
Epic’s aside, it is the shorter songs on this album that make up most of the magic that was Nightwish during this era.

     From the 1st sound of Dark Chest Of Wonders (which, when listening to the song, reminds me of starlight for some reason) you just know that each song is going to be spilling over with its own personality. There is no concept here; only 11, 13, or 15 songs, depending on the version you have, that stand out on their own.
     Tuomas Holopainen has genius for songwriting that very few have. His songs rarely sound exactly alike and each album progresses to a next level without alienating his listeners.
     Once has tunes delving into other genres ranging from industrial/techno sound to epic movie orchestration scores. The song Higher Than Hope has a chorus reminiscent of the 1980’s (to tell you the truth, it sounds like a song from the 80’s and I cannot remember what it is called but I think it was a Dokken song. I’ll edit into this post when and if I figure it out because it is not important). The sound is updated and Tarja nailed the chorus in exemplary fashion. The song is another one of those that Tuomas refuse to perform live because of the meaning behind it and how personal that is to him.

     Once is a symphonic metal feast, yet it is also a masterpiece of metal music itself. The mood of the music changes drastically (sometimes a couple of times during a song) but remains light of sound and very admissible.

Track listing for Once:
01: Dark Chest Of Wonders
02: Wish I Had An Angel
03: Nemo
04: Planet Hell
05: Creek Mary’s Blood
06: The Siren
07: Dead Gardens
08: Romanticide
09: Ghost Love Score
10: Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan
11: Higher Than Hope
12: White Night Fantasy*
13: Live To Tell The Tale*

(* = bonus songs  on certain versions. There is a remake/cover of Ankie Bagger’s Where Were You Last Night that was released on the Finnish/Japanese only single: Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan.)

     This is Tarja Turunen’s last studio album with the band prior to her dismissal from Nightwish after the last concert of Once Upon A Tour. That concert took place at Hartwell Areena in Helsinki, Finland and was filmed for the live DVD End Of An Era.

     (On a humerous note, when I returned from the West Coast (where many have never heard of Nightwish) to Missoula, Montana; while walking behind a homeless man I recognized the tune he was whistling to himself. I asked him if he knew the song he was whistling and he replied, “Nemo by Nightwish. It’s a badass song.”
Nightwish is very well known in Missoula and Montana. When the rest of the States were into grunge and alternative music, Montana stuck with metal.)


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