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  • Once
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4.7 out of 5 stars86
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 October 2005
If you had to sum this album up in one word that word would be 'Epic'. From the moment you press play on the CD player and hear the first few words 'Once i had a dream...and this is it!' you know you're in for one hell of a ride as the first riff practically tears you out of your seat sends you on a journey that even Frodo would break a sweat at! This is an extremely well produced album from start to finish with segments of orchestration working to awesome effect with the heavy riffing of the guitars. I'm a massive Metallica fan but this makes their S&M album (Metallica performing with an orchestra) sound like a garbage can being beaten with a stick! Yes I know that they're two completely different types of heavy metal but you feel that the orchestra sound didn't actually do anything for Metallica's music.
Once is an incredible achievement for Nightwish and there isn't a single track that disappoints or feel you want to skip. Particular stand out tracks are Planet Hell, which starts off with an orchestration piece that sounds like the sound track to a battle from Lord of the Rings. You can almost imagine two armies coming together bristtling with weaponry and then the guitars kick in and all hell breaks loose!! After this track you have the emotional Creek Mary's Blood, which tells the tale of the plight of the Native Americans. This track builds at one segment to a point where you can almost hear the medicine man dancing and calling us to war! The albums grandest track though is saved until track 9. Ghost Love Score is a song of pure technical brilliance. At ten minutes long, for me personally, this track alone deserves to be the reason to purchase this album. The orchestra pieces on Ghost Love Score are the best to be found anywhere on the album, at times taking the song off on inspired and breathtaking tangents, and then bringing you right back from this journey to the where the song started. I don't lie when i tell you that when you listen to this song the hairs will tingle on the back of your neck and arms. After this track we are treated to a track sung in Tarja's native Finnish language, which although you might not understand the lyrics, still proves an awesome showcase for Tarja's incredible voice. This version of the album ends with the track Higher Than Hope, which is also a brilliant track. If however you purchase the limited edition UK version, you are treated to a further two previously unreleased tracks - White Night Fantasy and Live To Tell The Tale, which are equally as good as everything else on the album. If you are looking for an album with amazing vocals, insanely dynamic riffs with a film score esque edge then look no further. Once awaits you with open arms!
'old loves they die hard, old lies they die harder...'
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on 9 June 2004
The only song I had heard before I put the new opus into my DVD player yesterday was "Nemo" which I had caught on TV.
Incidentally, I regard "Nemo" as one of the less interesting songs on the album since in my opinion it lacks some of the depth present on most of the other tracks. My expectations were therefore mixed. I think I was expecting something like a watered-down, "softened" version of Nightwish's music. "Nemo" is a very catchy, chart compatible piece, after all.
So when the CD started to play, I was totally blown away by a heavyness that I actually hadn't associacted with Nightwish in general up to that moment. I immediately knew that I was in for something very, very special.
Many listenings later I can now say with all sincerity that the CD I bought on that sunny but slightly boring Monday will probably become one of the few titles that make it into my "all-time essentials" list of albums. I'm talking about roughly 10 CDs out of hundreds from all kinds of genres. That list includes names like The Cure, Pink Floyd, Bach, The Sisters of Mercy, Autechre (errm, yes I listen to a wide range of styles).
I could go into the individual elements that contribute to the greatness of "Once". The crystal-clear production. The flawless songwriting and composition. The unstoppable energy of a more powerful than ever bass/drums/guitar battery. The way this is perfectly juxtaposed to keyboards and live orchestra. Tarja's voice that has never been more multi-faceted, seductive and, well, beatiful. The way ethnic influences enrich the compositions and arrangements without ever being preposterous. The urgency, the poignancy, the larger-than-life drama.
But trying to describe the experience of this album seems almost futile.
The level of refinement and sophistication Nightwish have reached on "Once" is something that a vast majority of artists never achieve during their whole career. This is not about being "symphonic metal", "power metal" or any kind of genre, sub-genre or sub-sub-genre anymore. This is a musical milestone that plays in the same leage as the most semimal works by bands like Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden or Metallica, who transcended a genre and created something that stood apart from (and possibly above) everything else that had been there before.
At least this is the impression "Once" has made on me. Let me add maybe, that my approach to this wonderful music was not that of a "metal head". Yes, I like metal, and I listen to almost all styles from power to black, but I am primarily a music lover. Music is one of the most important things in my life, and I don't really care if people call it metal, house, jazz, classical, techno or noise - as long as it provides me with a medium for my mind to travel in, moves me, gives me goose bumbs and brings tears to my eyes.
Every Once in a while I find something very, very special in my constant search for such music. Thank you, Nightwish, for having created one of those gems.
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on 3 March 2005
Finally, an album where the production quality and orchestration are a match for the bands obvious ambition.
Nightwish's previous albums have all had their fine moments and they have been making great music for many years. Century Child was a really good album and this one builds on the best elements and takes the further.
Unlike many contemporary rock bands which focus on the radio friendly 4 minute formula, there is a huge range of songs within this album.
With the opener 'Dark Chest of Wonders' Nightwish charge out of the traps, playing heavy, progressive metal of the highest order .
Wish I Had an Angel, Dead Gardens , Romanticide and the excellent The Siren all follow in its wake alongside the less heavy but equally progressive, Higher than Hope
Nemo is about as commercial as Nightwish get and it provides both a catchy signature tune for the album and an easy in for new listeners.
Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan is a lovely ballad sung in the bands native Finnish and proves that understanding the words isn't always as important as appreciating the beautiful sounds a vocalist can make.
The epics 'Creek Marys Blood' and the stupendous ' Ghost Love Story' show Nightwish at their most orchestral and operatic.
Only Planet Hell disappoints, sounding like a throwback to some of the less successful tunes on Wishmaster .
Overall this is an album that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys progressive metal. Its one of the best works in the genre .
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on 4 June 2006
This was the first Nightwish album I bought & it is still my favourite [although Oceanborn is a close second]. I have to admit that when I first got it, it didn't appeal to me that much, but as I kept playing it I fell deeply in love with everything about it!

Dark Chest Of Wonders is the first track on the album. The song grips you instantly with the words 'Once I had a dream & this is it' whispered by Tarja. The into is very upbeat & you find yourself wanting to dance around just because of it. After the amazing intro, you hear the choir belt out their lyrics & then Tarja again as she leads them. This song is awesome.

Wish I Had An Angel is one of the most commercial songs from Once. It was released as the second single & it doesn't really sound like the 'standard' Nightwish. Although, still a very heavy song & the lyrics, seductive as ever.

Nemo, the first single release from the album is next. The beginning of this song is bound to enchant with Tuomas' lovely piano solo. You are then catapulted into a mixture of different instruments & then Tarja sings. Great guitar riff in this song too by Emppu.

Planet Hell is probably of the most angriest songs on the album. Starting off with strings, drums & a choir you wouldn't believe what is going to happen. The song becomes very heavy & you find yourself wanting to headbang along. The lyrics are very hauting & quite scary for instance 'Save yourself & let them suffer!'

Creek Mary's Blood changes to direction of the album dramatically. This native Indian style ballad pulls you into the suffering that these people endured, along with Tarja's breath-taking vocals. John Two-Hawks even does some Indian chanting on this song for added affect.

The Siren has a middle Eastern feel to it. I really didn't like this song at first, but as I played it more often, I grew to love it. I love the story about the myths of the sirens in this song & Tarja & Marco's vocals go great together. Tarja even does some throat singing for The Siren.

Dead Gardens & Romanticide are my least favourite songs from Once. They just don't have the edge like the rest of the songs do. They are both very heavy & Romanticide is very dramatic, a sure song to headbang to.

Ghost Love Score is the highest point of the album for me. Just over 10 minutes of pure epicness. [Not a word but oh well] Everything about it is breathtaking! The orchestra, the choir, Tarja's voice, the lyrics. I've seen this song live too, & believe me, it doesn't disappoint. You must give Ghost Love Score a listen. You'll be completely captivated!

Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan is abouslutely beautiful. The first time I heard this song, I wanted to cry! Tarja's voice in her native language is stunning & filled with so much emotion. The title translates to Death Makes An Artist.

Higher Than Hope is dedicated to a fan & friend of Nightwish who sadly passed away. Tuomas wrote this song, but he never got to hear it. The lyrics are very emotional & sad, but a beautiful all the same. Lovely song!

White Night Fantasty is rather strange. It's nothing like what Nightwish have done before. I tend not to listen to this song as I dislike what Tarja had been made to do to her voice. Pretty lyrics though.

Live To Tell The Tale is similar to Romanticide, a song that is heavy & deserves a good headbanging to.

As I have said, this is my favourite Nightwish album as it's the biggest they have ever done. The orchestra & choir make it exremely special & for the while you listen to it, you feel as though you have escaped the world & you can just sit & listen to some great music!

Definitely worth 5 stars.
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on 4 September 2005
A world apart from the appalling nu-metal tendencies of Evanescence, 'Once' is Nightwish's 5th full length studio album. In my opinion the Finnish posse have outdone themselves on this one! Unlike their other albums, which could take a while to get used to, Once is far more accessible.
Opening with the extremely catchy 'Dark Chest of Wonders' the album goes from strength to strength. One thing that is noticeable is that Tarja's amazing operatic voice has been toned down slightly so that it no longer dominates the music. In fact, this change, combined with the grander feel of the tracks makes Nightwish sound even more amazing. 'Wish I Had An Angel' is the first song on the album to combine Tarja's operatic vocals with bassist Marco Hietala's deep growls...and it sounds awesome! 'Nemo' is a slower song but very catchy. Follwing this is the stomping 'Planet Hell', that includes some of the most over-the-top vocals on the album! 'Creek Mary's Blood' is one of this album's highlights, with a poignant message about the fate of the North American Indian. The next 3 songs are good but the album really picks up wth 'Ghost Love Score' which is, without doubt, one of the best songs Nightwish have ever done. The slow Finnish language 'Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan' follows before the album ends on a high note with 'Higher Than Hope'.
Nightwish took some stick from certain 'fans' who called them sellouts when this album was released. These people need to listen to this album again. Nightwish have stuck to their roots but refined their sound to create a more accessible album that fans of melodic metal will absolutely adore. It's criminal that such overrated bands like Evanescence are so popular in this country when truly talented groups like Nightwish go unnoticed. Just take a look at the continental metal scene and you'll see that Nightwish are huge. If you like Nightwish then you may also like After Forever and other Finish power metal bands such as Sonata Arctica.
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on 29 December 2006
I didn't like Nightwish...but I heard this album and I said: "WOW!"

and yes...this CD is absolutely amazing! I think their best album by far.

(but I also like "Wishmaster" and "Century Child") Every song on this album is a masterpiece.

1. Dark Chest of Wonders 10/10 (One of the best songs on the album,awesome)

2. Wish I Had an Angel 9/10

3. Nemo 100/10 (One of my favourites, awesome song,too^^)

4. Planet Hell 9.5/10

5. Creek Mary's Blood 10/10 (One of the best songs)

6. The Siren 100/10 (Another favourite for me...Tarja's voice is AWESOME in this song)

7. Dead Gardens 8.5/10

8. Romanticide 10/10 (The hardest song on the CD.)

9. Ghost Love Score 10000/10 (Ohh my GOD! This is my absolute favourite song of all-time!The best song on the CD. AMAZING!!!Phenomenal!!!)

10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan 8/10 (very nice ballad)

11. Higher Than Hope 8.5/10

This CD is one of my favourite albums of all-time...

Thank You Nightwish!
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on 4 July 2004
To put it simply, this is the best Nightwish release since Oceanborn.
After Wishmaster it seemed that Tuomas and his band had taken a new musical direction. With 'Over the Hills' and 'Century Child' it seemed the songwriting had taken a leaner, more direct approach. The beautifully complex song structures had been simplified in favour of a collection of more straight-up metal anthems. Whilst this new material was almost all excellent, it simply wasn't what Nightwish do best.
Now it's gone even further the other way.
This album is closest to Oceanborn in it's style, each song going through complexly interwoven melodies and time changes before rising up to a chorus sure to leave it's imprint on your heart. But everything on this CD is simply bigger and more epic than anything this awesome band have done before. Whatever their musical limits once were, everything on here smashes through them.
Opener 'Dark Chest of Wonders' is a piece of soaring metal genius. The first minute is almost a song itself, a deluge of power metal riffing overlayed with Tuomas's wonderful keyboard genius (not to mention the addition of an entire symphony orchestra and choir) before Tarja's voice, possibly the greatest in metal at this time, sweeps you away. It's hard to explain how much the vocals on this have improved since the early days of the band until you've listened to each diverse track and every mind-blowing chorus.
The addition of a choir and orchestra has given this CD a richness and texture that was sadly lacking on earlier releases (although this will undoubtedly create difficulties when it comes to performing the songs live, a pity as this album has just the kind of rousing, fist-pumping action that works so well live) and, as always, the musicianship is superb. Tuomas's arrangements sound like the soundtrack to the best Hollywood epic ever and every instrument fits together beautifully to create a single, flowing entity. The song 'Ghost Love Score' is a perfect example of this. This track, perhaps more than any other, demonstrates an incredible band at the height of their powers. Tarja's vocals float angelically above the backing choir whilst the music rolls and blasts below.
Whilst the epic material is wonderful, theres plenty here that takes a more direct approach to your ears. 'Wish I Had an Angel' is a fast-paced 'Dead to the World' style anthem whilst single 'Nemo' is a beautifully crafted masterpiece. 'Wish I...' is also one of several tracks that use bassist Marco's gruff voice to counter the ethereal Tarja (fans of Century Child will remember how much he added to the sound). 'The Siren' in particular will blow away all fans of dual vocals in songs.
If there is a criticism of this album, it's that the songs can occaisionally get a little bit TOO indulgent. 'Creek Mary's Blood', with it's native American chants and ethnic instrumentation, is perhaps pushing things slightly. However this is a minor gripe since 'Creek...' is as awesome in parts as anything Nightwish have ever done. Also, Tuomas has yet to explain why he chose to portray himself as a nemo.....
Aside from that, this is genius. Sheer genius.
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on 27 May 2007
listening to this as I write, the other reviews pretty much cover this, but I just had to write, how can such class go un noticed. Maybe it's better to keep this from the mainstream dross. This is too good in it's whole. I will be getting more of their stuff, emmotional, epic, awesome beyond words, maybe just maybe better than Within Temptation. Just got into these guy's as well, it's close. Ahh what the hell I'll listen to that next and enjoy. Everyone who pretends to be a music fan should be made/ forced to listen to this... nuff said. Top class!!!!
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on 4 February 2005
First I'd like to say thanks to all the reviewers here ... you inspired me to listen to this album ... WOW, am I impressed!
This band takes a wee while to get used to - Tarja has a strong accent and a powerful voice which I only truly appreciated after a few listens, if you see what I mean. But I love it now!
My favourite song has to be the FABULOUS 'Ghost love score' ... so haunting and beautiful. Really, no review can do this song justice, it has to be heard to be believed! I also like 'Dead gardens' and the powerful 'Planet Hell'. And 'Nemo' is so catchy! 'Higher than hope' and 'Creek Mary's blood' are also worth mentioning ... that's not to say that the rest of the album isn't!
I love the imagery they conjure up; sirens and angels, heaven and dammnation. I wish Nightwish would tour the UK, so I could hear them live - oh, well, will just have to listen to the album some more!
Once you've heard this album, you won't be the same, anyway.
''My fall will be for you ...''
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on 18 November 2004
I'd say this is one of the best albums Nightwish have done. But I could say that about almost all of them! I thoroughly love their work, and having this new album is very exciting for me! Admitedly, I am quite a new fan, but have been soaking up everything I can get a hold of, Once being one of them.
The album opens with an absolute cracker of a song, Dark Chest of Wonders, with orchestra, band and Tarja belting out melody and lyrics grand style. It then moves swiftly and smoothing into Wish I Had an Angel, followed by Nemo. Most of the tracks on this album are very strong and fantastic to listen to (v. loudly!).
I think there is a good balance between heavy guitar/band and orchestra on this album, but have to admit that one of my firm favourites of Once has to be the 10-minute epic Ghost Love Score. If you bought the single Wish I Had an Angel, you may have noticed that there was an instrumental of Ghost Love Score, which was thrilling to hear, but cannot compare to hearing the full thing, with vocals and band. It is truly an amazing song.
But this is a truly amazing album, and would strongly advise any fan of Nightwish to buy this, but even if you're generally a fan of [symphonic] metal, you should at the very least borrow a copy to listen to: it'll blow your mind.
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