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There was a fair amount of mixed feeling out there regarding the “Century Child” release, much of it focusing around the addition of Marko as a vocalist rather than just a new bass player. But another source of the mixed reaction was songs like the one featured on this single “Ever Dream”, which shows the band slowing down considerably and moving towards a much less involved approach to songwriting. Up until this point, Nightwish had mostly been completely involved in balancing music with lyrics, but here there is definitely a tilt towards lionizing the vocalist and the words and downplaying the rest of the band.
This does not necessitate that the song is bad, but it does take a step down from what other songs similar to this had been. When this is measured against previous singles such as “Passion And The Opera” and “The Kinslayer”, a definite drop in the amount of intricate musical elements is observed. Tarja is doing more straight singing with less vibrato, occasional melodic or contrapuntal sections have been replaced with ambient keyboards over top of rudimentary rock beats and bass lines. There is a symphonic presence at times from the keyboards, but it reeks of restriction and limitation to the point of almost being those token orchestral lines put in pop/rock songs.
The two b-side tracks are closer to the band’s older format, but are still fairly restricted compared again to past work and also to many other songs on “Century Child”. The remake of “The Phantom Of The Opera” is the best song here, though it tends to be received with mixed reactions based on Marko’s over the top vocal interpretation. “The Wayfarer” sounds a little closer to some of the simpler songs heard on “Wishmaster”, and has a solid principle melody in between the vocal sections. Both of these songs are a good bit heavier and more up tempo than the half-ballad of an a-side leading this off.
Unless you didn’t get the fairly common edition of “Century Child” that has “The Wayfarer” as a bonus track, there isn’t too much point to getting this. Many point to “Once” or the latest album with the new singer as being the point where the band lost ground, but the changes that occurred were starting up here, though in a very subtle way and mostly limited to the ballads. I guess every band goes through this process, but that doesn’t make it any less of a shame.