Nightwish & Olzen through…

 From Nightwish official website http://nightwish.com/en/

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

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.

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.

Nightwish – End Of An Era

A few things about this DVD bug the ever-living-hell out of me.
 
The Editing – There is absolutely no possibility within the human realm that someone can get from one side of the stage all the way across to the other side of the keyboards in a single moment, the batting of an eye. BUT, it happens on this DVD an awful lot. There is also the angle of the cameras that make the band look as if they are moron’s, albeit talented moron’s. And, coinciding with the photo gallery, one could be easily led to believe that two concerts were actually held.

The Music – Seems a bit on the perfect side… I don’t go to a concert to hear exactly what is on the CD. If that were the case I would save my money and just stay home and listen to the CD. I know bands, even the best of them, make mistakes while playing live and vocalists never sound too damn good. WOW! This is almost too damn perfect. I would rather have all the imperfections of trueness than over-editing.

The Music – Yes, I repeated myself (read on).

Track/Set list for End Of An Era:
01: Dark Chest Of Wonders
02: Planet Hell
03: Ever Dream
04: The Kinslayer
05: Phantom Of The Opera
06: The Siren
07: Sleeping Sun
08: High Hopes
09: Bless The Child
10: Wishmaster
11: Slaying The Dreamer
12: Nemo
13: Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan
14: Ghost Love Score
15: Stone People
16: Creek Mary’s Blood
17: Over The Hills And Far Away
18: Wish I Had An Angel

There is not one song from Oceanborn or Angel’s Fall First. Granted, it is their set and they can do what they want, however, aside from Tarja Turunen, all the other members know it was to be her swan-song performance with the band. There are three songs from Wishmaster, four songs from Century Child, and eight from Once, plus the odd songs High Hopes (Pink Floyd cover), Stone People, Sleeping Sun (not originally on a Nightwish album), and Over The Hills…
     Where are Elvenpath, Sacrament Of Wilderness, Beauty And The Beast… Yes, it would have been a long show but it was her last show with them and it would have been a treat to hear what those songs sounded like after originally being recorded years ahead of this concert. Would they be reinterpreted? Slowed down, sped up?
It was Once Upon A Tour but it was also her last show with them and I don’t believe Tarja will ever return since she stated so on her latest release in the song Falling Awake.
     So, we are left to hear these songs sung by Annette (who will not sound like Tarja – Kudos for that Annette) and by a band that cannot bring forth the same emotion/feeling that Nightwish does when performing these songs. Both situations can be summed up like this: It is like hearing Vince Neil’s band perform Mötley Crüe, or taking Colonel Sanders out of Kentucky Fried Chicken (you take away the Colonel and you are doing nothing but frying just another piece of chicken). Sorry guys and gals, I did say I was honest.
     If you only just now discovered Nightwish and their back catalog, you may feel like you missed one hell of a magical moment in music and metal since you are finding out after the fact. There are many bands now that are similar in direction to Nightwish, but there is only one Nightwish.

As for the DVD itself, the concert, it is what it is. The last show we are able to see a glimmer of the aforementioned magic with a very large crowd of people before we are left wondering what happened less than twenty-four hours later.

In the bonus material, we do get to see the documentary “A Day Before Tomorrow” that does show animosity in spades – everything from sideways glances to barbed remarks to uncomfortable silences broken up by meager attempts at civil conversation.
     I think one of the more poignant moments in the documentary is at a festival like show in South America where the band is gathered to take a picture. Before this, Tarja is seen warming up her voice and the band enters her dressing area, she playfully begins to banter back and forth with Jukka who returns her banter with about as much emotion of a dead body on a battlefield.
     The next scene is the band prepping to go onstage. Marco is warming up with a few yells, group hug, and then nerve’s. The players head up the stairs for their intro with the camera following them until whoever is manning the camera abruptly stops and pans back down to where Tarja is left alone. The shot does not last long but it speaks more words than the band knows. It is a solitary, fearful display of uncertainness that seems to permeate the entire documentary and all of the band members who hide it behind anger, false-smiles (smile pretty the cameras on) and silence.
     Throughout the documentary is Nightwish’s very own Yoko Oh-No; Tarja’s husband Marcello Cabuli. My gawd, when they are all in the same room together the silence is deafening. It should be noted that whenever he is alone with the band members Marcello does make attempts to defuse the situation, some so damn goofy even they cannot help but laugh, but when Tarja returns the silence and downcast eyes begin anew.

The documentary also has pop-ups with questions answered by band members. What stands out is that Tarja has the most rock-star answers for the questions though she seems the least rock-star type.
     Another thing is the lack of Tarja’s presence when you feel she should be there standing besides the other band members but she mysteriously is there later in the shot. Is she there? Is she not there? What?
     The documentary does not reveal what really tore the band apart, just the slow build-up to an imploding end that no one within the band did a damn thing to stop.

The bonus material is small but the impact of it is huge. The concert is good aside from the editing that insults the watcher’s intelligence. I would rather see the entire performance without the cuts, mistakes be damned!