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There was a good deal of upheaval in the Nightwish fan base over the “Once” album, and most of it was centered on this particular song because of some elements that had not been present in previous works. It speaks to the general viewpoint that when an established band keeps a regular sound for a while and then begins experimenting, those who are used to the original sound don’t take it well. The problem is that if you do a comparison between the 4 albums before this one, there was a good deal of evolution in sound, especially between the first and second album, so the resentment seems a bit enigmatic to me.
“Wish I Had An Angel” is sort of a techno groove metal variation on the symphonic style that Nightwish has exhibited fairly consistently since “Oceanborn”. The drums in particular go back and forth between a standard kit and a beat-box sound that almost seems unnecessary as the beat scarcely changes feel to hint at some sort of dramatic interlude that would call for it. The melodic line is where the song derives its strength and cancels out any negative aspects in the arrangement, particularly a bass part that is just a little bit too loud. Marco Hietala’s vocals at the end are a little over the top as well.
The other stuff on here is fairly solid. The orchestral/instrumental version of “Ghost Love Score” is a great listen if you like classical music or film score. The keyboard alone sections in particular are incredibly serene, although they do seems to beg for Tarja’s voice to give it a melody, and I found myself doing the same. The “Where were you last night” cover is the highlight of the single, basically a re-made 80s pop song that has been re-arranged to sound like a Malmsteen/Stratovarius interpretation with a really heavy sounding guitar punching through the ambient keyboards. The demo version of the title track of this single is pretty good for a demo; the drums sound a little less processed, Tarja’s backing vocals drown out Marco during the chorus (a good thing in this case) and the guitars sound a little distant but otherwise it’s exactly the same.
Although the only thing exclusive to this single is the demo version of “Wish I Had An Angel”, it is probably a good pick up for bargain hunters and completists, especially the kind who have a fetish for album art featuring photos of Tarja. This one will likely have a bright future collecting dust on my shelf, but I’m a bit attached to it so I don’t plan on trading, so happy hunting finding your own copy if this appeals to you.