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Nightwish's Rocka Rolla - 73%

TrooperEd, December 4th, 2013

And when you really think about it, while the album has a flaw or two, the fact is Nightwish had their shit together in 1997 more than Judas Priest did in 1974, so this might actually be a bit better than Rocka Rolla.

Elvenpath, Beauty & The Beast, Astral Romance, Know Why The Nightengale Sings, and the vastly underrated Tutankhamen are all fine perfectly metal songs on their own. Of these songs, three are the same tempo, so if you are a stickler for tempo, know that they are spaced out between each other. Which is great for variety, but not so much for consistency. The beginning of the album almost makes me think of A Farewell To Kings only with a female singing whatever Geddy Lee would be speaking. The most shocking thing about this album is for all the claims that this band were rough around the edges, is how much it rocks! Tuomas's singing isn't even that bad. The only mistake he made was allowing himself full lead on Carpenter, which might have actually turned out a bit better if it had been a duet like Beauty and Astral.

Still, no one will disagree that the smartest thing Tuomas ever did was stop singing. I must admit I do enjoy the re-recorded version of Astral Romance with Tony more than the original. I also wish they re-recorded Beauty & The Beast with Marco singing Tumoas's part, especially since they did that live on the Century Child tour. It would have made a damn good B-side to one of the Century Child or Once singles.

The albums weirdest moment is definitely Lappiland. Whatever you do, don't walk in to this song thinking it's gonna be 9 minutes of riffs like Hallowed Be Thy Name or Satan's Fall. You'll be setting yourself up for massive disappointment. This is where the album has that Lonesome Crow/Winter Retreat vibe to it the most, despite psychedelia being dead for almost two decades at this point. Man, what the hell was Tarja thinking when she decided to bring this one back live on her solo shows? Nightwish would go on to make much stronger epics, most of which are shorter than this.

Then there's the title track, and for what it's worth, this song actually seems like it was conceived for the so called "moody acoustic" project. It's also completely unique in that it's more or less the only acoustic song in the whole Tarja catalogue. Even for Nightwish ballads, it stands out in that regard, as the rest of the time ballads were conceived with keyboards and symphony elements. By the way, for those of you critics of Tarja's later years of her "breathing problem," I hate to break it to you, but she does that here as well. The only bad thing about this song is just as it starts to fade out is when it seems to be building to it's most interesting point.

It's a damn shame Tuomas looks upon this album with scorn, as there's a hell of a lot more inspiration to be found in this album then anything they've done past 2001. Still, Nightwish would get much, MUCH better after this album.

Did I miss anything? Oh yea, Nymphomaniac Fantasia sucks. But you knew that.