Nightwish & Olzen through…

 From Nightwish official website

Press statement

Another chapter of the Nightwish story has ended today. Nightwish and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

Nightwish has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from The Netherlands (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the Imaginaerum world tour.We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.

We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together.

– NIGHTWISH & Anette Olzon


Indica – A Way Away

     Granted, Indica could never be mistaken for PowerMetal. More to the point, they only slightly border within the Metal realm. They are very Symphonic and much more so on this; their first all english language release.
     Yes, that Toumas Holopainen of Nightwish produced this album and invited his friend Pip Williams to do the score changed the dynamics of the songs (all but one previously released on earlier albums sung in Soumi). Still, they remain the same.

     What interested me in Indica was that vocalist, Jonsu, had recorded with Nightwish during the Dark Passion Play sessions. She sang the song titled Last Of The Wilds, an instrumental track on Dark Passion PlayErämaan Viimeinen (The Last One In The Wilderness) was released on the Platinum edition of Dark Passion Play

     The thing is, while not being Metal, the heavier songs are chunky sounding and the lyrics are poignant, as are those on the slower, more mellow songs, but the heavy music is laden with a sharp sarcasm that Jonsu expresses as well as Dave Mustaine of Megadeth does.
     To say that this is a PopMetal laden album would not be doing it any justice since those songs that are not faster have a melancholy mood to them, yet, I would be hard-pressed to call it Gothic.
“Little sister, playing hide and seek
Even though mama told you I’m really gone
If you miss me, sneak a peek at my diary
Or read the peek-a-boo sky that lights the night…”
from In Passing)

     A bit melancholy, but not Gothic dark in any way. Even if the music is not to your musical palette, the lyrics and the way they are offered to you shows a mature band with strong writing and storytelling skills.

Indica is:
                    Jonsu – Vocals & Violin
                    Heini – Bass
                    Jenny – Guitars
                    Laura – Drums
                    Sirkku – Keyboards & Grand Piano

Track listing for A Way Away:
01: Islands Of Light
02: Precious Dark
03: Children Of Frost
04: Lilja’s Lament
05: In Passing
06: Scissors Paper Rock
07: A Way Away
08: As If
09: Straight And Arrow
10: Eerie Eden
11: Outside In*

     Metal? Not so much. Good? Definately.
     Those that I have played the album for tend to like it despite what their musical taste is. Also, when people are over, it is one album they most want to hear again.
     Hailing from Finland, unknown in the United States but for those that seek out new music; give these ladies their due and give this album a few listens – it will grow on you.

* – Bonus track.

Nightwish – Imaginaerum

 Four years is a long time between albums unless your name is Def Leppard and you have a drummer that was in a bad car wreck costing him an arm so that he had to relearn how to play his drums with only one hand. Now there is Nightwish to add to the list.
     Don’t get me wrong, Imagenaerum is a fantastic release that shows the versatility of Toumas Holopainen‘s songwriting abilities and he wears his influences on his sleeve rather than underlying within the music’s background.
     Like many Nightwish fans, I too pine for the days of Oceanborn, inasmuch that I wish there was just more metal to the album in the form of guitar leads, runs, and fills… But damnit, that the songs on Imaginaerum are very good and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen admits that after the extended touring that came with the release of Dark Passion Play he was so burnt-out with playing his instrument that he did not touch it for any reason for months, hence, there is good reason that lead guitar work is minimal in the extreme on Imaginaerum.

     The video for Storytime introduced what the album would sound like and yes, it is evolved from Dark Passion Play. There is a darkness to the songs but because of how the album reads it is more in the vein of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas / Corpse Bride than the standard Gothic melancholy. There is a reason for the darkness and it can be playful itself. That it comes off like a children’s movie should not surprise any fans of the band.

     So what is painstakingly different about Imaginaerum from Dark Passion Play? What makes the album shine and stand out? Tarja fans close your eyes. Anette Olzon makes this album work. If you don’t believe me give it a few spins.
     Anette‘s voice and how she uses it per song, sometimes squealing like, sometimes normal (or abnormal), sometimes with mock accent, Anette is the stand out performer.
     I don’t know that the songs were written more geared toward Anette’s voice but her voice fits comfortably to the songs. There is a song where, at first listen, it sounds like Marco Hietala singing but it turns out to be Anette. Huh? Who knew? Maybe that the turmoil of the early days of Nightwish is finished and that Anette‘s trial by fire (so to speak) is also over with, she has found her niche in the band and for those that still don’t believe, again, give this album a few listens and you too will decide that she has a very versatile, bluesy, soulful vocal range that goes well with Nightwish‘s music. 
 A kind of concept album much like Iron Maiden‘s Somewhere In Time was, every song dealt with the same subject: Time. Imagenaerum’s concept is loose and not storylike either yet you can tell that the songs tie together to form an entire. That the songs also stand well on their own (you don’t have to listen to the album from start to finish to get the meaning) is different than say Avantasia‘s Metal Opera‘s where coming into the album in the very middle can leave you wondering what the hell it means.

Track listing for Imaginaerum:
01: Taikatalvi
02: Storytime
03: Ghost River
04: Slow, Love, Slow
05: I Want My Tears Back
06: Scaretale
07: Arabesque
08: Turn Loose The Meramaids
09: Rest Calm
10: The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove
11: Last Ride Of The Day
12: Song Of Myself
13: Imagenaerum

     Pine for the days of Oceanborn, yes, yes, yes, we all do. The blog for the Oceanborn album has always been the most popular article on my site here and I do wish for a complete PowerMetal release from Nightwish again but this album is just so cool and there will be a movie that ties into it too, double down on the cool factor, aye?
     Like Within Temptation‘s Black Symphony, where does Nightwish go after this? WT went to a more hard rock sounding album, but c’mon, how could they top the performance of Black Symphony but by not trying to. As well, Imaginaerum is a pinnacle that could be easily repeated because it is so infectious. And just how much more symphony does ToumasMetal have within it? He is definitely a Maestro in this modern world of ours that leads us all back to childhood remembrances and makes us lonely for the days of childish innocence where everything was a wonder and nothing was short of amazing.
     As with every Nightwish release, I simply enjoy it and the pathways it takes me down. Imaginaerum put a smile on my face and this band, sans certain orginal members, still makes magic.

Tarja – Henkäys Ikuisuudesta (Breath From Eternity)

Walking In The Air

     This is not a metal album in any way. It is Tarja‘s first solo album after her tenure in Nightwish was revoked (she was unceremoniously and publicly dumped). The version I own is the original 2006 release. It was re-released in at the end of 2010 with a different track-listing.

    With the background Tarja has in classical singing, it is no surprise that she made an album geared more toward vocals and words than music. But then, let’s face the truth; without Nightwish, when you go to hear Tarja perform live, the music playing in the background is incidental. It is all about that beautiful voice.
     With the exception of the first song, “Kuin Henkäys Ikuisuutta“, this is a CD full of holiday/Christmas songs written and previously recorded by other musicians.
     I cannot say, but for one song, whether or not they have some personal meaning in Tarja‘s life. The song “You Would Have Loved This“, originally written and performed by American folk-singer, Cori Conners, is performed here as a reflection and tribute to Tarja‘s mother, who passed away in 2003. It is a very good, and moving version of the song.

     For anyone who is a fan of Tarja‘s, or a fan of excellent vocal abilities, both the original and new release of this album are must haves.

     My own mother was half Italian, half Ojibway (Chippewa) and I grew up listening to Opera like Enrico Caruso singing Ave Maria. Tarja performs the song on this album and upon first hearing it I stopped doing anything and listened and remembered my own mother.
     What I am getting at is Tarja‘s singing on this album is very beautiful. So beautiful I believe even angel’s stop and listen when it is being played. It is not metal but that is okay; it is still music sung by the true First Lady of Metal.

track listing for Henkäys Ikuisuudesta:
01:  Kuin Henkäys Ikuisuutta (The Breath of Eternity)
02: You Would Have Loved This (Cori Conners)
03: Happy New Year (ABBA cover)
04: En Etsi Valtaa, Loistoa (I Seek No Power, Glory)
05: Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (John Lennon)
06: Varpunen Jouluaamuna (A Sparrow On Christmas Morning)
07: Ave Maria (Hail Mary)
08: The Eyes Of A Child (Air Supply)
09: Mökit Nukkuu Lumiset (Cottages Sleep Under Snow)
10: Jo Joutuu Ilta (not sure about translation: It’s Already Evening)
11: Marian Poika (Mary’s Boy Child)
12: Magnificat: Quia Respexit (literal translation: Magnificent: He Regards Humility)*
13: Walking In The Air (Howard Blake)
14: Track listing for 2010 re-release
01: Kuin Henkäys Ikuisuutta
02: You Would Have Loved This
03:  Heinillä Härkien
04: En Etsi Valtaa, Loistoa
05: Varpunen Jouluaamuna
06: Ave Maria
07: Maa On Niin Kaunis
08:  Mökit Nukkuu Lumiset
09: Jo Joutuu Ilta
10: Magnificat: Quia respexit
11: Kun Joulu On
12: Arkihuolesi Kaikki Heitä
13: Walking In The Air
14: Jouluyö, Juhlayö (Silent Night)

     Again, it is a Christmas album. Tarja has stated she is Lutheran, as are many from Finland (Soumi). In December, Tarja does Christmas performances of these songs at churches in Finland. The shows are always sold out.

* Magnificat was written by Johann Sebastian Bach for orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists. The words are The Canticle of Mary from The Gospel of Luke.
The song is the second Aria from Magnificat entitled: Quia respexit humilitatem.

Tarja – My Winter Storm

     The second album (as described in the review of NightwishDark Passion Play) that I just didn’t want to like but did despite my greatest effort to despise it.

     I have read various reviews of My Winter Storm; be they written by Metal critics or by John Q. Public listeners, and, to a degree, I can agree with some aspects of the negative reviews – but I do not agree with the main one, that the album is not heavy enough.
     If you purchased the CD and chanced to look at the pictures that are part of the inlay card, you would see that there is no reason for this album to be musically heavy at all times because the content of the lyrics is heavy enough.
     Taking a learned lesson from Tuomas Holopainen, Tarja goes a little schizophrenic and a whole lot multiple personality on us. Not for real but in that she plays various characters, pieces of her, if you will, that make up the entire. Doing this brings a depth to the songs on this recording that many musicians would never, ever dare to go.
     Anger and love are strong emotions, Tarja digs deeper and gets to the bottom of them, the underlying feelings that make up the emotions and what she experienced that caused them. She does so by playing four seperate roles; The Dead BoyTuomas Holopainen‘s character that is him (I sometimes refer to this album as The Dead Girl album). The Doll – herself in the role she has been put (the other’s are referred to as toys, and she is too when speaking of herself in the third person – find out the history of Nightwish and you will understand). The Phoenix – Again, herself, but becoming. The Queen Of Ice – herself, but not in the truest sense (could be what she has been portrayed to have been; imagined – false, real – but exaggerated to fantastical proportions).

     There is nothing wrong with this album musically. It is very personal. Whether she is singing about herself, someone else, or using a storyline (Lost Northern StarCiarán’s Well), the music reflects the lyrics, which are all over the place. Hence, the album is eclectic, reflecting the many moods that fell upon Tarja while writing the songs.
     Even the seeming out of place cover of Alice Cooper, Poison, is, in Tarja‘s voice, saying something that permeates most of the album, and, one read through the lyrics you come to understand that, like Nightwish‘ song, Bye Bye Beautiful, Tarja is singing her sadness and feelings of being betrayed to Tuomas. The song Boy And The Ghost is an example:

wake up, wake up:
there’s an angel in the snow
look up, look up:
it’s a frightened dead boy

     In the passage above, the 2nd line is a refernce to the Nightwish song Sacrament Of Wilderness, in which the lyrics describe Nightwish and its members oath to each other:

Naked in midwinter magic
Lies an angel in the snow

a sacrament by a campfire

     By comparing Tarja‘s lyric to that of Nightwish, you can see the cause of her sadness and why she may feel betrayed.

     My Winter Storm had three releases: a standard release (however, the U.K. and U.S. editions are different), limited release (has comes with a DVD of two versions of I Walk Alone video and a making of the video and making of the album), and a fan collector’s edition. Of these, the limited edition is the most comprehensive version to get and also the one you will most likely have to bid on on EBay, same goes for the fan edition.

track listing for My Winter Storm (U.S. Edition):
01: Ite, Missa Est
02: I Walk Alone
03: Lost Northern Star
04: Seeking For The Reign
05: The Reign
06: The Escape Of The Doll
07: My Little Phoenix
08: Boy And The Ghost
09: Sing For Me
10: Oasis
11: Poison
12: Our Great Divide
13: Sunset
14: Damned And Divine
15: Die Alive
16: Minor Heaven
17: Ciaran’s Well
18: Calling Grace
19: You Would Have Loved This (live)
20: Damned And Divine (live)

     Other songs released as singles and on the limited and/or fan edition:
Damned Vampire & Gothic Divine*
I Walk Alone (Artist version)*
I Walk Alone (In Extremo Remix)*
The Seer**
The Seer (Featuring Doro Pesch)***

     I for one like the outpouring of emotion in the vocals and lyrics. That they are mostly about (in influence), and speaking to her old bandmates is of no consequence since the mood of the songs does not mask the emotion conveyed in the vocals. And, this should come as no shock to anyone, this is an album done by a lady who is known as The Voice Of Finland; the music is entirely incidental. Agree or disagree as you may, but, the vocal expression as an instrument is so much stronger than the instruments behind it.

* released on the Limited Edition.
** released on the U.K. Edition.
*** released on Fan Edition.

Nightwish – Dark Passion Play

     This was one of two albums I honestly say I wanted to dislike. Tarja was no longer in the band and new vocalist Anette Olzen has a voice better suited to Pop or Rock; it has a bubbly, almost perky, upbeat sound to it.
     That Anette sounded nothing like Tarja, nor did she try to (ala Blayze Bailey and Tim “Ripper” Owens, the two that took over vocals for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest) was a saving grace. Anette had some big shoes to fill and rather than try to fill them with ersatz sound, she worked her own sound into music that, lets face it, was written with Tarja‘s vocal style in mind. Old habits die hard, eh Tuomas?

     However, vocals aside, the music became fatter sounding. Whether from palm muting or track overlaying, the rhythm guitar playing, coupled with the bass, sounded chunkier that it had ever sounded on previous Nightwish releases. This lent the music a more ThrashMetal style edge while still holding onto the symphonic elements that are synonymous with Nightwish.
     Bassist and male vocalist, Marco Hietala, took a more prominent role in singing. Two songs on the album have Anette singing back-up to Marco‘s lead, while other songs have him singing lead alongside Anette rather than just back-up. He does sing backing vocals to.

     One other thing about the music… It is dark. However introspective the lyrics get, the music finds its niche surrounded in darkness. Even the slow, more ballad type songs, have this darkness within them. It is not GothicMetal. It is Nightwish just, as Chuck Schuldiner once said, “Let the metal flow”, writing what was inside them. There are many elements and aspects to the music and what is peculiar about this is their ex-vocalist, Tarja, the same thing can be said about her second solo release, My Winter Storm.

Track listing for original release of Dark Passion Play:
01: The Poet And The Pendulum
02: Bye Bye Beautiful
03: Amaranth
04: Cadence Of Her Last Breath
05: Master Passion Greed
06: Eva
07: Sahara
08: Whoever Brings The Night
09: For The Heart I Once Had
10: The Islander
11: Last Of The Wilds
12: Seven Days To The Wolves
13: Meadows Of Heaven

All special editions had instrumental/orchestral versions of all songs. They are a bit different.

Platinum Edition had the single b-sides on a third disc
01: Erämaan Viimeinen*
02: Escapist**
03: Meadows Of Heaven (Orchestral)
04: The Poet And The Pendulum (Demo)
05: Bye Bye Beautiful (DJ Orkidea Remix)

There were also different versions of the songs in the demo process that were released on singles and as digital only downloads:
Reach (Amaranth demo)
Escapist (Instrumental/ Orchestral version)
While Your Lips Are Still Red***

     It is not that the album grew on me, but that it was so different in sound while remaining familiar too.
     Some of the astrix noted songs are bonus track or extra recordings. All are very good and worth getting.

* – Erämaan Viimeinen is the song Last Of The Wilds with lyrics sang in Soumi (Finnish) by Jonsu, the vocalist for the band Indica. The music is a bit different from the original instrumental release.

** – Escapist was originally a bonus track on the Japanese release of Dark Passion Play.

*** – While Your Lips Are Still Red is not, technically, a Nightwish song. It was written by Holopainen and performed by Holopainen, Hietala, and Nevalainen (3/5 of the band) for the Finnish movie Lieksa!
     Later, the band released it on the live release Made In Honk Kong (And Various Other Places).
     The music for the song is very simple, cut and dried. Lyrically, it is… I sing this song (cover) because it is such a great song and the lyrics are moving (only reason I would sing music by another band).

     Some of the songs are directed at Tarja and/or her husband.

Nightwish – Angel’s Fall First

     While I do believe that Oceanborn is, musically, the best release by Nightwish, so to do I believe that Angel’s Fall First is a special album, especially in the day and age it was made.

     How many performers now days put out an album that sounds like a first album? Almost none.
     Angel’s Fall First has a lackluster production sound and the album is better for it.

          I mentioned before that I only listen to Mötley Crüe ‘s first release, Too Fast For Love, and the reason I still do is because of the raw sounding energy not hidden behind glossed over production. Angel’s Fall First has this energy.
     This is the epitome of a first album – thrown together from a bunch of demo’s, made with little or next to nothing cash for studio and production time, guitars that sound un”effect”ed… but for all that, it still sounds like they did the best they could do with what they had before them.
     Energy, youth, eagerness and naiveté. You can’t get that from a pop performers first release!

     Yes, Tuomas does state that he feels this is more of a demo, but Tuomas, why? Especially when most demo’s are not packaged and released as full length albums. So maybe it didn’t live up to your expectations years after it was released, and comparing it to later releases, yes, it seems unfinished, nevertheless, it is still a great album that is better for its imperfections.
     The music is gritty, grainy, and coarse and sometimes sounds like it is recorded using small practice amps, the vocals falter at times… It is still an unrealized ambitious and magical album. Production hinderances aside, it could have been Oceanborn.
I could praise this album to no end. For a first release, it is better than most.

Track listing for Angel’s Fall First:
01: Elvenpath
02: Beauty And The Beast
03: The Carpenter
04: Astral Romance
05: Angel’s Fall First
06: Tutankhamen
07: Nymphomaniac Fantasia
08: Know Why The Nightingale Sings
09: Lappi (Lapland)
        I.     Erämaajärvi
        II.   Witchdrums
        III. This Moment Is Eternity
        IV.  Etiäinen
10: A Return To The Sea*/**
11: Once Upon A Troubadour*
12: Nightwish (Demo)**
13: The Forever Moments (Demo)**
14: Etiäinen (Demo)**

     The sound is not a huge as their later releases as much of the album was recorded prior to the band being signed by Spinefarm Records. Essentially, it is comprised of demo recordings with a few songs recorded after being signed.

* – Denotes bonus tracks on early pressings.
** – Denotes bonus tracks on later pressings.

For whatever reason the song Once Upon A Troubadour was removed from later pressings.
I have never encountered the song Nightwish or The Forever Moments in any form other than the demo versions.