Sound — 10
Nearly the same sound as every year, less heavier, but nevertheless Metal, with keyboards and operatic singing and sometimes with nearly screamed trash/power styled vocals. New are the orchestra and the choir, which create a good bunch of mystic atmosphere, and the more poppier sound. It is not pop music, neither are Nightwish sellouts, it's just more poppier, but old fans won't be that annoyed. The sound overall is brilliant. From the heavy opener, to bad-intoning-on-purpouse to church keys to long orchestral interludes, the sound never gets boring. There is nearly no repetitive harmony, neither are the lyrics repetitive. This is once again great work from a great band. The only exception is the song, which is sung in Finnish. It's nice, too, but it doesn't fit into the CD very well, consisting only of the orchestra and Tarja. Singing is awesome, though Tarja could use her operatic vibrato-voice more frequently. The guitaring consists pretty much of powerchords and great solos. The bass is great, too, drums and keyboards are excellent, though you'll miss the amazing technical keyboard solos from "Oceanborn," for example. Nevertheless 5 points, because it still rocks as hell with these flaws. Best songs: "Dark Chest Of Wonders," "Planet Hell," "The Siren" (phrygian modes rule), "Dead Gardens" and the wonderful "Ghost Love Score".
Lyrics — 10
Brilliant for most of the CD. The lyrics have some wonderful lines like "Beauty always comes with dark thoughts" or "If you'd be the one to cut me I'd bleed forever" and so on. No repetitive lines or stupid "Life is s--t"-moaning. The only weak points are the lyrics of "Ghost Love Score" because they are a bit over the top, save the citate further above. "Creek Mary's Blood" has lyrics in a native american language! Best songs: "Wish I Had An Angel," "Creek Mary's Blood," "The Siren," "Dead Gardens," "Romanticide," "Higher Than Hope."
Overall Impression — 10
To all Nightwish fans or people, who like metal, symphonic metal or movie soundtracks: get this! This CD is one of the best that I know, it's not boring after over two months and it's simply brilliant. "Once" was on #1 on German charts, smashing such stupid pop bitches and the like. It's gone platinum here and it deserves it. It's really great. But I'm repeating myself.