89. Nightwish, 'Once' (2004)
A direct descendant of the power metal pioneered by Eighties heavyweights Helloween, Savatage and Blind Guardian, the subgenre of symphonic metal juxtaposed explosive sing-along hooks with lavish orchestration, whether produced via synthesizer or, in the case of a lucky few like Nightwish, full-scale orchestras. Fronted by classically trained soprano Tarja Turunen, the Finnish band embraced metal's operatic side, and their contrast of arias and power chords turned out to be a popular one. But on their fifth album, Once, the band achieved their most pristinely balanced blend of force and melody. Backed by a full symphony, Turunen and lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen indulged their classical and pop sides with equal success: "The Siren" and "Ghost Love Score" soar with Wagnerian power, while the gorgeous "Nemo" shows how accessible this music could be in expert hands. "I have obviously listened to my Panteras and Metallicas and you can hear it in the riffs of Once," Holopainen stated in the band's official biography, Once Upon a Nightwish, "but it wasn't premeditated. I look for new ideas mainly from movie scores." A.B.