What is Nightwish? Nightwish is the prototypical Symphonic Power Metal band. Symphonic Metal, in general, is a unique fusion of power metal
and symphony orchestral elements. Although many symphonic metal bands base their style solidly on classical music, Tuomas Holopainen,
principle songwriter for Nightwish, follows a theatrical, more epic approach by including or basing the band's style in Film Music or movie
soundtracks. "Ghost Love Score" is the paradigm of the genre on "Once". This song follows the epic scope and extended formal structures
characteristic of power metal while making extensive use of orchestral elements.
One reviewer's complaint that Nightwish was simply rehashing the Rock Opera of the 70s is invalid. For one, Rock Opera is a misnomer.
Rock 'Musical' might be closer. I found those attempts of the 70s to be clumsy and more than a little pretentious, much like the reviewer
who called them such. This is far superior. The origins of 'symphonic metal' are more recent. 'Believer' forshadowed it in 1991.
The gradual incorporation of a live orchestra and the influence of classical compostion became more important in the music of 'Therion'
than their death metal roots. Nightwish (and Within Temptation) formed on their heals.
Another reviewer suggested that the vocalist could not sing. Well....delivering the vocals is the virtually incomparable Tarja Turunen.
Tarja has studied singing at the prestigious Sibelius Academy and the Hochschule fur Musik Karlsruhe. She gained a professional qualification
as a classical soloist (and has performed with a full orchestra and choir throughout her career as a classical vocalist) with further
specialization in art song (German lied--singer accompanied by a pianist and a couple backup vocalists--toured South America as such twice
last decade). She began touring her native Finland in December playing Christmas Concerts in a classical style before 'Once' was recorded
and has turned it into a much anticipated annual event over the last several years. (See my review of "Tarja Turunen & Harus In Concert
Live at Sibelius Hall"). Her classical fans and Metalheads rub shoulders in the churches all across Finland.
Tarja is a full lyric soprano and has a vocal range of three octaves. (Classic Rock Magazine, August 2009, p. 92). This rare talent places
her, despite the drastic differences in genres, in the exclusive company of Sarah Brightman ("Phantom of the Opera") and Julie Andrews
("The Sound of Music" fame). Now...the respective genres of Julie and Sarah are not to my taste, but I would never display my complete and
utter ignorance by suggesting that they 'could not sing'.
Tarja's vocals are perfectly in sync with the power metal and symphonic accompaniment. Her talent is on full display; powerful, dramatic,
mesmerizing, hypnotic, melodic, harmonious and a lot more adjectives than I can come up with. In a word: passionate.
Marco Hietala, the bass player also provides vocals, too. Marco is probably one of the best male heavy metal vocalists in the Finnish metal
scene. He does not disappoint and provides a rich counterpoint to Tarja's classical/rock style.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra provides the orchestral element on the CD (their recent credits include providing the soundtrack for the
"Lord of the Rings" trilogy and recording the national anthems to be played at the 2012 Olympics in London). They are featured on 9 of the
11 original tracks. Top quality and very professional workmanship by all members. When the final note was played in the London recording
sessions, Tuomas Holopainen left the sound booth to personally thank the orchestra for their participation, the orchestra members gave HIM,
the composer, a standing ovation.
The choral arrangements are not 'computerized' but provided by 'Metro Voices' choir. Metro Voices has quickly become recognized as one of
the most flexible and accomplished singing groups currently available to music and film producers, whether for jingles, classical and pop
recordings or film soundtracks, its style ranging from medieval to, in this case, heavy metal. This choir often works closely with the LPO.
The bottom line is that the vocal, orchestral and power metal elements are in near perfect harmony. There are plenty of hooks to sing to and
the melodies will have you whistling or humming them while you work (at least I do).
Since music is a personal choice, do some homework before buying. Meaning: there are videos, official and fan made, on the net of the songs
on this CD. Watch and listen to them and if you like the fusion describe above, buy "Once" like I did. If not move on. But if you buy this
unheard and don't like it don't blame the reviewers or the band. Do your research or else look like a fool and there seems to be plenty of
them here. As such, you'll get what you deserve.