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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Image RoadRunner Records 2004

Image Spinefarm Records 2004

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(18 October 2004) The Finnish operatic-heavy band Nightwish has become a worldwide success during the latest years, selling millions of albums and constantly having sold-out concerts around the world. Both album and concert ticket sales have proven that their unique blend of heavy metal and opera is indeed popular, and that the genre has some kind of longevity.

It is easy to find reasons for the recent boost of success, especially when listening to Nightwish's latest studio album Once (Spinefarm Records (FI) 981890-4; Nuclear Blast (DE) 27361 12912; RoadRunner (USA) RDRF 1011302). The familiar Nightwish elements have been enriched with an almost megalomaniac usage of money, hiring extra musicians such as a huge symphony orchestra (London Session Orchestra) as well as the large Metro Voices choir. The fusion of heavy rock and classical music elements has leapt a giant step further, and the results can be heard indeed.

In fact, the sound on Once is at least a lot fuller than before, thanks to all kinds of cleverly chosen and made musical elements such as cascading, almost filmic strings on "Ghost Love Score" and so on. All these elements do Tarja's voice significant justice--she is an opera singer anyway--and gives her chances to use her voice more versatilly than before. For example, the oriental flavour of "The Siren" require a great deal of skills, and Tarja surely has used them superbly!

One of the most interesting and outstanding pieces from this album--in addition to the single "Nemo" which has been shown on at least MTV Europe constantly--is "Creek Mary's Blood" where the main role is led through by a genuine Lakota tribe American Indian, John Two-Hawks. His narration in own tribal language and ethnic flute playing certainly appeal even those who usually do not like to listen heavy rock music. Also, the very beautiful ballad sung in Finnish, entitled "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" (Death Makes An Artist) deserves a special mention here, although it is almost acoustic and not so heavy, it is surely one of the gems on the album. Regardless of the comments about the track being not suitable for a heavy rock album!

Currently Nightwish is on their world tour, and one of the reasons for sold-out concerts is the latest album Once. Although it is a bit difficult, if not impossible, to bring the full symphony orchestra and the choir onto the stage at the same time, there is always means to avoid the budget to burst too early without letting the audience down. As one of the best albums by the band thusfar, take the time to explore Nightwish's Once further.--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu Finland and Russ Elliot in New York

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