Once – Nightwish

  • With Once, Nightwish builds upon classical orchestration and embraces the harder facets of heavy metal. Yes, the symphonic and harmonic elements are still a force on Once, as is the captivating and magnificent voice of Tarja Turunen, but the guitars and the percussion also come to the forefront, as do the harsh vocals of bassist Marco Hietala (Dead Gardens and Romanticide are perfect examples of this more straightforward approach). The sound of Nightwish is progressing, and I for one am excited about this new direction.

    The standout track on Once is Wish I Had An Angel (also a video included on the CD's multimedia section). Turunen's beautiful voice clashes with the gravely croons courtesy of Hietala while drummer Jukka Nevalainen pounds on the skins, and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen breaks down a solid array of catchy riffs. Keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen continues to astound, particularly on tracks such as Nemo (the piano is enthralling) and Dark Chest Of Wonders (great supporting stings and interludes).

    The 'classical' feel is clearly evident on tracks such as Planet Hell and the epic-length Ghost Love Score, but the band also presents more experimental material on compositions such as Creek Mary's Blood, which incorporates Native American chants and flutes (as well as a narrative piece performed by John Two-Hawks in his native language), and Kuolema Tekee Taiteijlian (Finnish for 'death makes the artist'), a rousing ballad sung in Finnish.

    Lyrically, Nightwish continues to explore beauty and sadness. The aforementioned Creek Mary's Blood laments the loss of nature and warns about the fragile dominance of manifest destiny. The Siren uses precious few words to chronicle obsession and Ghost Love Score attempts to explain the essence of love. Although the words on the page are far from startling, they make for great songs.

    Once comes with two bonus tracks and a video. Fans of Nightwish already own this CD. You should, too.


    review by Michael LohrI am going to go on the record and say that Nightwish are not only the most talented rock band in Europe, but they are musically, the most talented rock group in the entire world. With the soaring, crystal vocals of Tarja Turunen (who studied at the prestigious Sibelius Academy of Music in Finland where she focused on classical music and opera), and the superb musicianship of guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, Nightwish set themselves head-and-shoulders above the rest of their peers. Unlike American heavy music which is either still in the stunted throws of nu metal's eclipse or attempting to imitate Green Day's two and a half chord ability, Nightwish's musicianship is simply stunning. Keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, bassist Marco Hietala and drummer Jukka Nevalainen round out this talented unit. Every song on Once exudes first class talent. From the majestic heaviness of Dark Chest Of Wonders to the commercial, almost Scorpions - Rock You Like A Hurricane rhythms of Wish I Had An Angel to the Native American anthem, Creek Mary's Blood the quality of the songs are impeccable. Nightwish even do a song in their native Finnish language, Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan. And Nemo, the first single taken from Once, has already topped the European charts and earned them rave reviews.

    Even though some critics may categorise Nightwish as a heavy metal band, or worse, a gothic metal band (which is furthest from the truth), the band's symphonic arrangements and acoustic interludes as well as Turunen's vocals will find Nightwish appealing to a much wider audience. Nightwish's signature sound, from Euro metal anthems to operatic ballads, all demonstrates significant virtuosity and musical range. Their music is very original and has brought them much deserved international acclaim.

    I cannot recommend this record enough. Along with Black Label Society and Lacuna Coil, Nightwish is one of the top hard rocks acts recording today and Once has become a quintessential record in a catalogue of creative genius.