NIGHTWISH — Once (review)

NIGHTWISH — Once album cover Album · 2004 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Although Nightwish was fairly well known as it was, this album burst them into the mainstream, likely with the backing of Roadrunner to throw them into more well known repute. Unfortunately, there seems to be a general dip in quality once a band becomes more popular. However, the dislike for the new era of this band comes a bit warranted, as this is still a good album worth getting, especially for fans of melodic and symphonic metal.

Fans hoping for more power metal oriented Nightwish a la Oceanborn and Wishmaster are ultimately the people who complain about the record. Once is more straightforward in composition for the most part, and obviously have pop radio type content, as evidenced in the soft "Nemo" and the danceable "I Wish I had an Angel". But there are still songs that are among the top of the Nightwish catalogue.

For one thing, the opener, "Dark Chest of Wonders" is an energetic power infused song with enough epic strings that it stands with many other modern power type songs. "Planet Hell" is excellent as well, with an excellent bombastic intro, possibly their darkest song to date. But the real meat and bones of the album comes midway through in the forms of the longer tracks "Creek Mary's Blood" and "Ghost Love Score". The former is an emotional track with beautiful melodies and Native American instrumentation, along with a well placed monologue at the end of the track to cap it all off. "Ghost Love Score" is epic in every sense of the word, and quite well written. It is structured and develops like a progressive rock song, and contains many different moods. This is one of the best songs in metal period, and having this song on it makes the purchase of the record worthwhile.

Of course, the rest of the songs pretty much ruin it. With the exception of "The Siren" most of the rest of Once is unmemorable. You will look back on the tracklist and think "Dead Gardens? I think that track had synth in it?" or "Higher than Hope? Was that a ballad." Which, along with the mainstream styles at the beginning of the track generate the hatred for the album.

So this album has some great songs, a couple fantastic songs, and the rest is filler. That is why a lot of hate gets built upon this album. Though to be honest it's a good pop metal album with some great metal songs on it, which makes it all worthwhile.
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