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Ethereal - 78%

WhiteSwan, March 14th, 2014

I confess that when I heard about this album for the first time, I thought it would be merely a joke. After long time talking about a possible side-project by Tuomas Holopainen, come to think that the field of fantastic composition of Nightwish could stoop so low to subjects like a cartoon character as Scrooge McDuck was simply implausible. Then I saw the official cover. I almost fainted. What was Toumas presenting us as an alternative project to Nightwish? Was really an album about Scrooge's life?

Yes, the cover was nice: the terrible character, perfectly detailed and animated, watching reflective towards the sky as he's slipping his valuable gold coins with disdain. Although probably the song contains deepest issues than just narrate this duck's adventures, I could not help but think it was a mockery to those who expected a magnificence after seeing so many transcendent successes in Nightwish's trajectory.

As expected, when the single was released I ran to listen it to have a more accurate appreciation of Tuomas' ideas captured in his album. The only song contained in this EP, "A lifetime of adventures" (and its alternative version), did not seems to be disappointing. Although I wasn't come predisposed, I don't expected anything memorable after the terrible disappointment to see where Tuomas' inspiration was aimed this time.

The song, which exceeds the six minutes, obviously moves away from the grounds of the Metal to introduce in an ethereal environment, with a barely perceptible rock past middle. Great part of the melody is based on a key repeat as background, with some mixture of synthesizers that cast a mysterious but beautiful environment to the ear. The absence of drums during the first part, is noticeable replaced by slow and rythmic hits as certain bells which make it a fantasy's feature and perfect animation.

I think the strongest point of Tuomas' album was having the collaboration of a vocalist such Johanna Kurkela, of which we already had prior knowledge by having cooperated with Sonata Arctica few years ago. Her voice is so delicate and ethereal that it seems to be a whisper crawling by the melody. So it reach the goal introducing a singer who is well placed in the role knowing that she has to turn a fantasy tale in a song.

The big problem of the lines sung by Johanna is they are too spaced out. Seriously, too much. This makes the song to have a really exceptional and unnecessary length. The weakest point of the song is the pre-chorus, where the storytelling becomes so slow that comes to despair. What's more, it is so forced that the method comes to doubt about how to separate the sentences to fit them with the tempo, giving rise to ridiculously cutaway verses: “To… still… re… member…”. That's really annoying to listen.

It is understood that the intention is to give mysticism and illusory appearance after the melody, but those spaces only cause the song to be prematurely tedious, and the wonderful bridge between the last two choruses (“All the strangers on your path…”) becomes too expected and very short compared to the rest of the structure.

There is also a problem with the choruses, it is much repetition. They are relatively long, and without any variation in the verses, except once in “hope and many miles to go…”, which gets to bore us. Then we have a quite vague and very extended solo with a horrible distorsion to my taste, but fortunately it closes the song for good. It was a wise decision to not repeat the chorus, as if we didn't memorized it already.

Because of the length of time in the verses, they are not very plentiful, and those six minutes can be compressed into four strophes (probably at a rate of a minute per stanza) although the lyrics are not bad. It is poetic and beautiful, as a reflection of Scrooge himself that, well contextualized, still looking towards the horizon shedding his coins without realizing what he really does.

Tuomas shows again that he can take advantage even from the most unlikely subjects and raise it with absolute seriousness and reliability. And of course, I'll be waiting the release of the complete album, and I guess it goes to my list of possible acquisitions.