Released an improbable seventeen years ago, Once (Nuclear Blast), the fifth album from symphonic metal pioneers Nightwish saw the band catapulted from relative obscurity and into the eyes and ears of a much wider audience. With lead single ‘Nemo’ being given regular airplay on radio and music television channels, everything seemed to be falling into place for the Finnish act.
As things transpired, the album turned out to be singer Tarja Turunen‘s last for the band before leaving in a well-documented and less than amicable split. The breakthrough release which laid the groundwork for the bigger things which were soon to follow, Once still remains a favourite of many fans to this day. An epic, expertly crafted record which captures the band at the top of their game.
From the opening duo of ‘Dark Chest of Wonders’ and ‘Wish I Had an Angel’ through ‘Nemo’ and the Marco Hietala assisted ‘Planet Hell’, the first four tracks are an absolute statement of intent before taking a hard left turn with the slower but no less powerful Native American influenced ‘Creek Mary’s Blood’.
‘The Siren’ and ‘Dead Gardens’ remain underrated by many but only because they simply happen to fall before the powerhouse that is ‘Romanticide’ and, of course, undisputed album centrepiece ‘Ghost Love Score’. In ten short minutes, composer Tuomas Holopainen explores every area of his band’s sound to absolute perfection. Orchestral bombast, delicate melodies, muscular riffs, a magnificent performance from Tarja and the most perfectly executed and irresistible crescendos, this is the song by which Nightwish should be measured. So how do you follow that? With ‘Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijana’ of course, a gentle ballad sung entirely in Finnish which precedes the climactic drama of ‘Higher Than Hope’.
Remastered and repackaged, Once sounds nothing short of sensational and comes with three bonus discs. The first containing instrumental recordings, the next a collection of bonus tracks featuring single edits, video edits, demo cuts and live versions, and a final disc which boasts a live soundboard recording from Germany’s Taubertal Festival in 2005.
Buy Once (Remastered) here: : http://nblast.de/Nightwish-Once
9 / 10