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The irony of American cynicism. - 70%

hells_unicorn, December 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digisleeve)

The first inclination one tends to have when hearing the concept of a Disney concept being set to a serious musical score is towards a dismissive laughter, at least insofar as the U.S. and much of the U.K. would be concerned. Disney, after all, is locked in competition with Warner Bros. for the honor of producing the most slapstick infused animated shorts, replete with gags and ridiculousness galore. Scrooge McDuck fits into this present scheme, albeit in a less overt way, via the popular 1980s animated series Ducktales where a mixture of comedy and homage to more serious cinema fair would cross paths. But the series in question only tells part of the story, and in a less serious way that is more sensitive to the "sensibilities" of younger viewers, when squared with the original graphic novel to which Tuomas Holopainen has sought to pay homage, utilizing most of his usual tricks from his Nightwish arsenal, minus 95% of the metallic elements.

While at first the seemingly over-emphasis on nostalgia and depth appears to be misplaced, the musical elements of A Lifetimes Of Adventure, the lead off single to what would later be Tuomas' first solo LP outing Music Inspired By The Life And Times Of Scrooge, are actually fitting. The story of Scrooge's life at the point of the song is as an old man, reminiscing on his accomplishments and sacrifices while seeking after material wealth. The closing line of the song's refrain "To be rich is to seek, to relive a memory" is particularly poignant, underscoring the irony of Scrooge as a man of action, always chasing after the distant horizon and never stopping to see where he stands. The lyrics don't focus solely on regret, but also with a degree of gratitude for the experience, and perhaps even a stubborn refusal to accept that the journey is coming to an end.

The various moving parts of the song and the arrangement that breathes it to life are captivating, though also a bit too predictable for their own good. The lead vocalist marks a departure from the Nightwish format by opting for an angelic, airy voice closer to Sharon Den Adel than the dramatic soprano character of Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen, giving the song a sort of child-like character, as if the lyricist is speaking from the perspective of a nephew of Scrooge's, reflecting on one of his grand tales of adventure in the Klondike. The game of notes surrounding the words is largely a repetitive symphonic ballad that is fairly close to what would pass for a Nightwish ballad, minus the heaviness and bluster of course. The song hits a zenith in the last couple minutes when a lone electric guitar begins wailing away in a rocking manner, arguably a sign that Tuomas remembers who his audience is while he steps out of the metal realm. It's more of a driving, melodic solo after a 70s progressive rock band and restates a lot of familiar territory from the song's orchestral backdrop, but it's definitely a stronger of a solid yet middle of the road symphonic number.

The easiest thing to do when encountering something out of character is to either ignore or mock it, and sometimes the easy road is actually the correct one, but this is not one of those instances. While Tuomas' formulaic approach to telling a different kind of tale ends up in territory that most will recognize from his day job, he makes a good point musically about a genre of art that has long been pigeon-holed into a "kids only" or solely comedic box. While it is obvious that an ensemble cast of anthropomorphic ducks has little to do with the real world in the literal sense, there is something quite real about the characters and their exploits when taken figuratively. The best fiction points back to the world that we live in, and while perhaps not the most spellbinding of musical interpretations out there, A Lifetime Of Adventure is a solid reminder that there is a bit more to our beloved animated characters than just a passing chuckle.