Musical Joy

Nightwish

Nightwish

Nightwish

Nightwish is a Finnish Symphonic Power Metal band formed in 1996 in the town of Kitee. Nightwish is considered responsible for the rise in popularity of the symphonic metal genre, and the foundation of symphonic power metal. Nightwish was the brainchild of Tuomas Holopainen, conceived after spending a night around a campfire with some friends. The band formed shortly after in July of 1996. Holopainen invited guitarist Erno “Emppu” Vuorinen and vocalist Tarja Turunen to the project. Their style at the time was based on experiments by Holopainen with using keyboards, acoustic guitars and the operatic vocals of Tarja. There were three songs on their first demo, Nightwish. The songs were Nightwish, The Forever Moments, and Etainen. The first idea of the band was to create music much alike to the music played around campfires. However, Holopainen decided that Tarja’s voice was too powerful for a project like that and decided to add metal elements to their music. In early 1997, drummer Jukka Nevalainen joined the band. At the same time the acoustic guitar was replaced by an electric guitar. In April the band went into the studio in order to record seven songs including an improved version of their demo song, Etainen. These songs can be found on the limited edition of the album Angels Fall First. In May of the same year they signed with the Finnish record label Spinefarm Records for two albums. Angels Fall First was released in November and reached number 31 on Finnish album charts. A previously released single, The Carpenter, reached number 3 on the Finnish Singles chart. In December of 1997 they played their first concert in their hometown. During the winter of 1997-1998 the band performed only seven more times because Nevalainen and Vuorinen were fulfilling their obligatory military service and Turunen had not yet finished her studies. In 1998, bassist Sami Vanska joined the band. He was an old friend of Tuomas Holopainen. After shooting a video clip for the song The Carpenter, they released Oceanborn the follow up of Angels Fall First. This album was more technical and progressive than their first release in terms of song writing and the musical arrangements. The album also featured Tapio Wilska formerly of Finntroll on two songs, Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean and The Pharaoh Sails to Orion. Oceanborn reached number 5 on the Finnish album charts. The first single from that album, Sacrament of the Wilderness went straight to number 1 on the Finnish Single Charts. The second single to come out was Walking in the Air, a cover of Howard Blake’s piece, part of The Snowman’s soundtrack. In 1999 they recorded the single Sleeping Sun for the Solar Eclipse in Germany. This single sold 15,000 copies in Germany during the first month of it’s release. Oceanborn was certified gold in August. In 2000 Nightwish participated in the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Sleepwalker. They finished the contest in second place, though they won the public televoting. In May of 2000 they released Wishmaster which went straight to number 1 on the Finnish album charts and remained there for three weeks. During those three weeks it was certified gold. Wishmaster was despite long awaited releases from Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi, which were released at the same time as Wishmaster, declared album of the month by the German magazine Rock Hard. In 2001, Nightwish recorded a cover for Gary Moore’s Over the Hills and Far Away, together with a few new songs and a remake of an old one. This was released as the EP Over the Hills and Far Away. The record sported guest performances by Tony Kakko from the power metal band Sonata Arctica, and Tapio Wilska. They also released a VHS, DVD, and CD with live material recorded in a show in Tampere, on December 29, 2000. All of these were entitled From Wishes to Eternity. Shortly afterwards Sami Vanska was asked to leave the band by Tuomas Holopainen and Marco Hietala joined the band, effectively leaving his former band Sinergy. Holopainen and Vanska remained friends, and their friendship quickly squashed rumors that Holopainen and Vanska did not part amicably. In 2002, Nightwish released Century Child and the singles Ever Dream and Bless the Child. The main difference from the previous albums is the use of a live orchestra from Finland on Bless the Child, Ever Dream, Feel For You, and The Beauty of the Beast, to get a more present feeling of classical music. An enduring favorite of many fans though is the band’s version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, The Phantom of the Opera. Century Child was certified gold two hours after it’s release and platinum two weeks afterwards. It set a record on the Finnish album charts as well. In 2003, Nightwish released a second DVD, entitled End of Innocence that tells the story of the band in Holopainen and Nevalainen’s words for two hours. The documentary also features bits of live concerts, exclusive footage, etc. Tarja Turunen also got married during the summer of 2003 and there were rumors that the band was about to be dissolved. These rumors were proven false as the band continued to play concerts and released yet another album. Once was released on June 7, 2004 along with their first album single, Nemo. This single topped the charts in Finland and Hungary and reached the top ten in five additional countries.

Nightwish

Nightwish

Nemo, therefore remains their most successful single released to date. Once utilizes a full orchestra in nine of the eleven songs on the album. Unlike Century Child, Nightwish decided to look for an orchestra outside of Finland for Once. They chose the London Session Orchestra. Once is also their second album to feature a full length song in Finnish, Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan (Death Creates an Artist). Once has sold triple platinum in Finland, platinum in Germany, gold in Sweden, and reached number 1 in the Greek, Norwegian, and Hungarian album charts. The overall success of the Once album allowed the band to perform the Once World Tour, which enabled them to play in many countries the band had never visited before. Nightwish performed at the opening ceremony of the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, held in Helsinki. Highest Hopes was released in September of 2005 and it contains songs from their whole discography. They also performed a live cover of the Pink Floyd song High Hopes from the Division Bell album. This song was the first in which Hietala performs the vocals by himself. Besides High Hopes, a remake of Sleeping Sun was put on the album which was also released as a single. After the recording in the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki on the twenty-first of October in 2005, the four other members of Nightwish decided that it was best to continue without Tarja Turunen, a feeling they expressed in an open letter which was given to Turunen by Tuomas Holopainen after the concert and afterwards was posted on the band’s official website. The main justification of Tarja Turunen’s dismissal as given in the letter was that the band felt that her husband Marcelo Cabuli, an Argentinan business man, and the other commercial interests had changed her attitude toward the band and it’s goals. Turunen herself responded that the dismissal came as a complete shock to her, given that she had not been notified before the letter was given to her. She felt that the personal attacks on her husband were unwarranted and that playing the issue out to the public was senselessly cruel. She expressed these feelings through her own open letter, which was published on her personal website and through various tv, magazine, and newspaper interviews. Nightwish entered the studio on September 15, 2006 to record their sixth full length studio album. The process began with drum recordings, with guitar, bass, and demo keyboards, followed by orchestral/choir recordings. After those, the final symthesizers and vocals will be recorded. To find a replacement for Tarja Turunen as the female vocalist of the band, on March 17, 2006 the band allowed vocalists interested in the position to send in demo tapes as an audition for the spot. The band stated that it was looking for a vocalist with the ability to sing with good dynamics and versatility. However, to the surprise of many fans, the band did not specifically ask for a classically trained singer but were open to a variety of styles and backgrounds. By the time auditions were over on January 15, 2007 the band had received over 2,000 demo tapes. During this time speculation began to emerge as to who would eventually succeed Tarja Turunen as the female vocalist for the band. In response to these and other rumors, the band stated on their official website that the fans should not believe any source other than the band itself for information regarding the new vocalist. Eva, was the first single released for their 2007 album Dark Passion Play. On May the 28th it was announced that Anette Olzon had become the lead singer of Nightwish. The Nightwish album, Dark Passion Play was released on October 2, 2007.

Discography (That I Own)

  1. Angels Fall First 1997 – The debut album by Nightwish. It was released in 1997 by Spinefarm Records. The limited edition of five hundred copies features only seven tracks , two of which were not on the regular edition. Their first song, Elvenpath uses audio clips from the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings, directed by Ralph Bakshi. Every band needs to improve upon their first work and Nightwish as great as they are was no exception. The production of their first album is poor in quality in comparison to the albums that would follow. Tarja’s voice is beautiful, a true siren, while the lack of bass on Angels Fall First is really felt in certain songs. Still, for a first album it is very good and worth listening to.
  2. Oceanborn 1998 – This is the second album by Nightwish. It was released in October of 1998 Oceanborn is one of the band’s darker albums, making use of the harsh male vocals of Tapio Wilska in songs like The Pharaoh Sails to Orion. The entire album is fantasy oriented and the band seemed more comfortable with their own skills. The vocal arrangements allow Tarja’s voice to soar and the playing of Holopainen and Vuorinen is thorough and magnificent. They play their instruments with patience and don’t fall into the unnecessary and wasteful habit of unneeded tricking. The production quality of the album is better than their first and this album was the first to bring them worldwide attention.
  3. Wishmaster 2000 – The third album by Nightwish. Released on July 18, 2000 by Spinefarm Records. More so than it’s predecessor, Wishmaster has a very clear fantasy element. The song, The Kinslayer was written about the victims of the Columbine High School Massacre. Wanderlust and Wishmaster were influenced by the Dragonlance series of fantasy novels. FantasMic is a song about the Disney animated movies, particularly their fantasy and fable elements. Though the lyrics are dark and cover at times rather terrible ground, Nighwish manages to do this without being thoroughly depressing and hopeless. Instead they perform with great depth and feeling without giving way to the excessively nihilistic or even satanic sound that was far too often found in such music when Wishmaster was produced.
  4. Over the Hills and Far Away 2001 – The first EP by Nightwish. It was released under the Spinefarm label and later in 2005 in the US through Century Media. Tarja’s operatic vocals are incredibly lovely on this album, leaving no one in doubt of why her fans often call her a siren. The heavy guitars are a marvelous compliment and once more Nightwish sounds to be doing their best, better still, I walk away from this album with the feeling that they had a great deal of fun with it.
  5. Century Child 2002 – The fourth studio album by Nightwish. It was released in 2002 by Spinefarm Recrods. This album is a definite departure from their previous endeavors. It contains orchestral backing, which added and ethereal feel to the songs. Tarja’s voice is far more streamlined on this album, lacking in power due to the styling arrangements of the songs. The music is still superb and despite missing Tarja’s usual power and strength, this is still a great album.
  6. Once 2004 – The fifth studio album by Nightwish. It was released on June 7, 2004 by Nuclear Blast Records. Spinefarm Recrods also released a platinum edition of this album on November 24, 2004 containing the original tracks in addition to Live To Tell the Tale, White Night Fantasy, and the video for Nemo by Antti Jokinen. The North American version of Once contains the video for Wish I Had An Angel instead of Nemo. Once is a magnificent album. Those who had been living under a rock and thus had never heard of Nightwish before the release of Once, could not escape Nightwish afterward. Nightwish managed to get an entire orchestra to assist with this album. The first song begins with a pounding metal riff unolike anything else on the album. Soon afterward trademark Nightwish power riffs kick in with their infectious energy, invigorating and following on it’s heals is a parading symphony. The whole album is a beautiful merging of metal and symphonic sound at it’s best. Tarja shines with her lovely operatic vocals, which are stunning on songs such as Nemo, Creek Mary’s Blood, and Dark Chest of Wonders, to name a few.
  7. Tales of the Elvenpath 2004 – A best of release by Nightwish. It was released on October 18, 2004 by Drakkar Entertainment. Elvenpath, another of Nightwish’s beloved songs is not on this album, despite that the album was named for that particular song. It isn’t bad for a best of album, though ther eare several song that I would have put on there that simply did not make the cut. Tales from the Elvenpath contains songs from Oceanborn, Over the Hills and Far Away, Wishmaster, and Century Child alone.
  8. Highest Hopes 2005 – The third compilation album by Nightwish. Their first, Tales of the Elvenpath was considered incomplete by many fans, myself included. This album takes it’s name from a Pink Floyd cover High Hopes. This is a great album to recommend to anyone who has yet to listen to Nightwish.
  9. Sleeping Sun 2005 – A single by Nightwish. Sleeping Sun is one of my favorite songs and thus I had to get my hands on the Single which held different versions of the song. The song was written by Tuomas Holopainen and dedicated to the Solar Eclipse that arose in the European Sky in 1999. It was rereleased on CD and DVD Single in late October/early November of 2005.
  10. End of an Era 2006 – A DVD and CD from Nightwish. It is a recording of their live performance at the Harwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland on October 21, 2005. It was teh final concert of a long worldwide tour for their album, Once. The band was joined on stage by Lakota musician John Two-Hawks, who performed Stone People from his album Honor as an introduction to Creek Mary’s Blood which featured his voice and cedar flutes. End of an Era is the final Nightwish production to feature Tarja Turunen on vocals, since she and the band parted ways shortly after the concert.
  11. Dark Passion Play 2007 – The latest release by Nightwish. This is the first album with Nightwish’s new singer, Anette Olzon. It starts off nicely in a progressive nature with The Poet and The Pendulum which is an unusual but dynamic opener. The orchestra’s potential is immediately brought to the fore with the very first track. Anette has a lovely and dynamic voice that feels very right with the lyrics and dynamic choirs and orchestra.

In Conclusion
From the first moment my sister in law introduced me to the band I fell in love with their music. I became very fond of Tarja Turnen as the lead vocalist of this band, yet my natural curiosity and love of the other musicians of Nightwish have compelled me to buy their next album to discover if I can like a Nightwish without Tarja Turunen as the vocalist. It seems that I can! Their new singer Anette, sings with a power and versatility that’s far different from Tarja’s style and it has added a new dimension to the band. My husband actually likes her voice better than Tarja’s and so he prefers the latest album by Nightwish to their older work. While I still enjoy their older work, particularly the Once album, I cannot disagree that this new album is probably the best to date.

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