|Operatic Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
June 7th, 2004
Release length: 50:15
But, that’s not to say the music on Once is poor. That would be a dramatic understatement at times. Following the success of the release Century Child, the band decided to really focus on the orchestral arrangements, and relying greatly on the guitar work as far as the band’s music goes. The drumming and keyboards are great as well, and the vocals show greater range then they have on previous albums. While some may say the singing on this album is more commercialized, it’s hard to deny that Tarja has put more effort into this release then on previous albums. Just a quick listen to “Dark Chest Of Wonders” and “Wish I had An Angel”, two of the heaviest tracks on the release, will showcase a brilliant album.
While there are some jaw dropping moments on this release, there are, unfortunately, some tracks on here that just sound like filler. Aside “Nemo”, the lead single off the release, which says way too commercial for this band, and the male vocals that sometimes clash with the music on “Planet Hell”, the song “Creek Mary’s Blood” is a beautiful song with a long introduction and a drawn out feeling by the end. The same can be said for “The Siren”, which you will likely skip on future listenings. Of course, we can’t overlook the mind numbing idiocy of the “Oh my god the CD is scratched and skipping!” outro to “Dead Gardens” (an otherwise catchy song). But, the saddest of filler-sounding tracks would be the last song, “Higher Than Hope”, which sounds like something you would expect Rogers & Hammerstein to put out for mainstream radio air play.
Really, the most amazing thing about the album is what so many people bitch about: The orchestral arrangements, which we performed by those who did the score for the Lord of the Rings films. While sometimes they are very small contributions, such as on “The Siren” and “Romanticide”, many of the more spectacular tracks on the album have what could be considered near epic arrangements on the tracks “Dark Chest Of Wonders”, “Wish I Had An Angel”, and the astounding “Ghost Love Score”. The guitar work on this is pretty good as well, mostly on the heavier tracks, as well as the solo on “Romanticide”, and the vocals and orchtrated elements of “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan” are simply breath taking.
For the fans in the States, Roadrunner Records released this album with two bonus songs, “White Night Fantasy” and “Live To Tell The Tale”, as well as the “Nemo” music video in MPEG format. However, these two songs are not US exclusives, as “Live To Tell The Tale” was included on the Japanese release of this album, and “White Night Fantasy” is also available on the “Nemo” single. Since this is the only version readily available in the States, just look at these as two bonus tracks. For anyone else who feels compelled to buy this version for these tracks, just know that “White Night Fantasy” is nothing special, but “Live To Tell The Tale” is a very well crafted track worth tracking down.
Once is not going to be loved by all. The release shows great promise from the band as they continue to mature and explore their abilities. The addition of the orchestral parts definitely help out the band’s sound, especially given the operatic vocals and the range available here. But with a few filler-sounding tracks and moments that make you cringe thanks to male vocalist Marco, this isn’t the bands best album but still worth checking out if given the opportunity to hear it.
01. Dark Chest Of Wonders – 4:28
02. Wish I Had An Angel – 4:06
03. Nemo – 4:36
04. Planet Hell – 4:39
05. Creek Mary’s Blood – 8:30
06. The Siren – 4:45
07. Dead Gardens – 4:28
08. Romanticide – 4:58
09. Ghost Love Score – 10:02
10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan – 3:59
11. Higher Than Hope – 5:35
12. White Night Fantasy – 4:04
13. Live To Tell The Tale – 4:58
14. Nemo (Music Video MPEG)
|Overall Score: 5.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.