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This is literally the last Nightwish's studio album. The last from their heavy metal music repertoire. Although each release of theirs is excellent, Oceanborn, Century Child and Once belong to the trinity of their perfect studio albums. Perfect means each song is 5/5. They left heavy metal world after 10 years, but they made enough excellent songs for whole eternity. It would be foolish to think that they could go on in this world where money is what really matters, and band members change too, and become greedy. There are lots of examples where bands lose their identity and their roots in order to heave more fans who are not metalheads, more money and to secure regular appearance on tv screens, but not all of them are as gifted, talented and creative as Nightwish.
Tarja Turunen sounds great as usually. Thanks to her, these songs sound very unique and unforgettable. This time she preformed less operatic, even less than on Century Child, mainly with ordinary higher register. In ballads she preformed with softer approach. Operatic moments can be heard in Dark Chest Of Wonders, The Siren, Romanticide, Ghost Love Score and Higher Than Hope. The most impressive thing here are duets of Tarja Turunen and Marco Hietala in Wish I Had An Angel, Planet Hell and The Siren. Their powerful and divine voices took the this to a whole new level. It sounds like a symphony of angels. Amazing thing is how Tarja managed to put so much emotions in each song, as if she wrote the lyrics. Of course, Tuomas Holopainen was the one who wrote lyric about passion, lust, his thoughts about the world and a tribute to his friend who died, in Higher Than Hope.
Emppu Vuorinen created so many heavy riffs, which can cause serious whiplash. Dark Chest Of Wonders, Wish I Had An Angel, Planet Hell, Dead Gardens and Romanticide are full of intense, head-crushing riffs, and their speed depends on the song. Good thing is that he used lots of distortion to make his guitar sound notable while playing along massive orchestrations. That's perfect balance between electric guitar sound and symphonic arrangements in order to make real symphonic metal. Other songs are softer, and some are ballads, so he placed power chords well in those songs. He put nice leads wherever he could, and made amazing solos. Guitar solo in Nemo shows his incredible feel to fit that power ballad, but with technical approach too. Same thing for Creek Mary's Blood, but that solo is not technical.
Romanticide's solo shows the beauty of fast technical playing combined with guitar squeals and use of tremolo. For a change he made nice acoustic solo in White Night Fantasy. Although he had enough space for more solos in Wish I Had An Angel and Planet Hell, Tuoms filled those parts with keyboards. Emppu could have done something in The Siren and Ghost Love Score, but he followed orchestrations only. Jukka Nevalainen did excellent job too. He took care that everything sounds fantastic. He gave his maximum wherever he could. Even in the very slow power ballad Creek Marry's Blood he made sure that he makes things enjoyable to listen. He never repeats exact faceless beats throughout the song, but always changes them. Where it fits well, he uses double-bass pedal, and it's always exciting to listen to his rhythms. That makes him one bad-ass drummer, one of the best heavy metal drummers in fact.
Good sides of this release:
This release has pallet of various songs, from ballads, power ballads to mid and fast songs. Everything they did sounds fantastic, and production is really great. This killer combination of heavy metal music influenced with classical music gave birth to this symphonic metal masterpiece. The amount of talent which band members posses is infinite, and impressive orchestrations make its artistic value priceless. There's no better way to end an era of heavy metal domination than release like this one. This is the essence of true Nightwish's sound, before they started with commercial style, and abandoned their heavy metal roots.
Bad sides of this release:
Emppu could have made more guitar solos.
Whole studio album.