If the symphonic metal scene has to proud of something, it is only Therion and Nightwish. Those are the only original symphonic metal bands ever, pioneers of their genre. Everything that came afterwards is nothing more than a try-to-be-like band. Nightwish is a severely controversial band, especially over the last 10 years. Strange enough if you think that they have always been about innocence.
Tuomas Holopainen, the maestro, mastermind and keyboard player of the band, gave birth to Nightwish during summer 1996 in Kitee, Finland, while sitting around a campfire with some of his closest friends. One of them, was Emppu Vuorinen, the guitar player up to today, while Tarja Turunen, the once called “Angel Of Music” and now “Finland’s most metal diva” came afterwards to complete Tuomas’s plans; a band playing accoustic folk music, music for campfires. Who knew that this early adulthood plan that had been in Tuomas’s head once, would now become Finland’s biggest band and one of the most successful European bands of all time.
Angels Fall First – 1997
“From Lapland to the Elvenpath”
It was about 1996 when Tuomas Holopainen’s ambitions grew a little bigger and wanted to do something more than just an accoustic band. Then, he decided to take the band to a heavier direction. Angels Fall First would be the key for it. Even though it was sent as a demo to the record labels, Spinefarm Records thought it is absolutely fantastic and decided to release it. Thus, came their debut album on November 1st, 1997.
Fun fact: Tuomas still does not consider it as their debut, but only as a demo.
Oceanborn – 1998
“Wanderers in Cosmic Cravan”
Since Angels Fall First was not enough for Tuomas, he decided to put a huge effort in their next release. Oceanborn is considered up to today one of the best albums of the band. Powerful, strong melodies , brilliant keys and extraordinarily beautiful vocals by the amazing Tarja, even though her voice was still in a very immature state. This album sold more than 68.000 copies in Finland during the first days of its release, on December 7th, 1998.
Wishmaster – 2000
“Young love must live twice only for them”
It didn’t take long for Nightwish’s members to start being arrogant. This was quite obvious on their 3rd album, Wishmaster. Despite the fact that contains some of Nightwish’s biggest hits, like “Wishmaster”, “She is my Sin” and “Dead Boy’s Poem”, the lyrics indicate that something has been bugging the maester’s heart and mind. In other words, and as probably a big percentage of the avid fans know, Wishmaster gloryfies a lost love among the poet and the angel of music, obvious enough in songs such as “Come Cover Me”, “She Is My Sin” and “Bare Grace Misery”. It’s the last Nightwish album that contains the pure power metal emotion that was crystal clear in Oceanborn, before it was blended with more symphonic elements and orchestral parts afterwards.
Century Child – 2002
“…I was weak, yet not unblessed”
This album marks the introduction of the extremely talented bass player and vocalist Marco Hietala in the band. Century Child was the best selling album in Finland for year 2002 and also the calm before the storm. The compositions were longer, the lyrics were more poetic and full of sadness. There’s no doubt when most fans consider it their most “gothic” release. The atmosphere is depressive and gives the image of a pitch dark, suffocating blue lake, luring the poet deeper and deeper. Also, features a “Phantom Of The Opera” cover, which is the song’s most known cover to date, making Nightwish a little bigger to a wider audience.
Once – 2004
“…this night will hurt you like never before”
The last show of the Once tour took place on October 21st 2005 in Hartwall Arena, Helsinki. This date marks the final show Nightwish ever gave with their symbolic frontwoman, Tarja Turunen, who was fired with an open letter immediately after the show. The album made international, huge success both in Europe and America that no one could have thought that there must had been disputes between the band members. However the accusations against Tarja were shocking, since she was planning her solo career already. The album gained a mainstream success with songs such as “Nemo” and “Wish I had an Angel”, however the compositions are way too simple compared to Oceanborn and Century Child, with few exceptions such as “Ghost Love Score”, “Romanticide” and “Creek Mary’s Blood”.
Dark Passion Play – 2007
“…a widowed writer torn apart by chains of hell.”
Nightwish’s most controversial release ever, came out in September 26th 2007. It was the first album to feature the also controversial singer Anette Olzon, who during her years in Nightwish has been severely judged by the fanbases, since her vocal abilities are not similar to Turunen’s. It is also the first Nightwish album to ever feature Troy Donockley on pipe instruments, before he became a permanent member in 2013. Tuomas Holopainen was composing the album from 2005-2007, his darkest years as he claimed. The band didn’t know what to expect. The lyrics were a lot darker than Century Child and the compositions definitely more mature and brilliant. It is the highest selling Nightwish album to date, despite it features the least favorite Nightwish singer for many.
Imaginaerum – 2011
“…it’s hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead”
Disney has been a great factor in Tuomas Holopainen’s songwriting process since forever. Imaginaerum was a concept album based on a movie that came out the same year. There is not a greater term to describe it other than “Disney metal”. Theatrical orchestral arrangements, great vocals by the talented Anette Olzon and Marco Hietala, heavy guitars by Emppu Vuorinen, wonderful keyboards by Tuomas and massive drums by Jukka Nevalainen, who left the band in 2013, not permanently though, because of health issues. One of the highest rating albums of Nightwish, and will always be.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful – 2015
“Write a lyric for the song only you can understand”
In 2012, it came as a great shock for the fans that Anette Olzon was also fired from Nightwish and, according to her claims, almost the same way Tarja was. But it came as a greater shock that her replacement for the rest of the tour would be Floor Jansen of After Forever and ReVamp. I can still remembers the prayers we were all doing so that they could keep her forever… Nobody could have been a better replacement and her permanent stay in the band got the band a lot of old fans back who abandoned their music back in 2005. The album also features the new drummer Kai Hahto (Wintersun, Swallow The Sun), who is replacing Jukka Nevalainen. Endless Forms Most Beautiful is also a concept album, based on evolution, earth, life and death. However, it is not a very good album. The compositions have nothing to do with earlier Nightwish efforts and definitely do not indicate Floor’s vocal abilities. There are some good parts such though, such as “Alpenglow, “Weak Fantasy”, “Yours Is An Empty Hope” before the highlight, 25-long “The Greatest Show On Earth” that makes everyone who has attended their performances during the EFMB tour (including me) cry shouting “WE WERE HERE” in the end.
After one year and a half of silence, Nightwish are back on tour in Spring 2018 for their 20th anniversary. For dates:
Also, don’t miss their “Vehicle Of Spirit” DVD!