Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic/power metal band, formed in 1996 in the town of Kitee, in eastern Finland. Nightwish is considered one of the bands responsible for the development and rise in popularity of symphonic metal at the end of the 1990s, as well as the creation of the subgenre symphonic power metal.
Although the band has been prominent in their home country since the release of their first single, "The Carpenter" (1997) and debut album Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn and Wishmaster, which were released in 1998 and 2000 respectively. Their 2004 album, Once, led to Nightwish video clips being shown on MTV in the United States and inclusion of their music in U.S. movie soundtracks. Their biggest U.S. hit single, "Wish I Had an Angel" (2004), made it onto three U.S. film soundtracks as a means to promote their North American tour. The band produced three more singles and two music videos for the album, as well as "Sleeping Sun", from the 2005 "best of" compilation album, Highest Hopes, prior to vocalist Tarja Turunen's dismissal.
Former Alyson Avenue frontwoman Anette Olzon was recently revealed as Turunen's replacement, and soon after the band released a new album, Dark Passion Play, for which the band is now (January 13, 2008) touring.
Even though Nightwish mainly record and play their music in English, they've also produced several songs in their native language Finnish, including the singles "Kuolema tekee taiteilijan" and "Erämaan viimeinen.
Nightwish demo (1996)
Nightwish was the brainchild of Tuomas Holopainen (keyboards), conceived after spending a night around a campfire with friends. The band formed shortly after, in July 1996. Holopainen invited guitarist Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen, who was a fairly new acquaintance, and vocalist Tarja Turunen to the project, as she was renowned around the school they attended for her excellent vocal skills.
Angels Fall First (1997)
In early 1997, drummer Jukka Nevalainen joined the band. At the same time the acoustic guitar was replaced by an electric guitar. Both the decision of including a drummer and for Vuorinen to change into electric guitar was of course part of Holopainen’s idea of changing Nightwish's original style into a new take on metal, forming what Nightwish is today.
In April 1997, the band went into the studio in order to record their second and last demo, this time including seven songs; including an improved version of "Etiäinen" from the Nightwish demo. The demo was entitled "Angels Fall First", and their future debut album with the same name includes these songs and four more in a different order.
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 the Finnish album charts. A previously released single, "The Carpenter", reached number 3 on the Finnish singles chart. "The Carpenter" was a split with the two metal bands Children of Bodom and Thy Serpent.
"Angels Fall First" wasn't until 2007 release "Dark Passion Play" the only non-compilation album to feature keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen on vocals. On "Angels Fall First" he sang on "Once Upon a Troubadour", "The Carpenter", "Beauty and the Beast" and "Astral Romance", and he growled on the "Dark Passion Play" song "Master Passion Greed".
The critical reception of Angels Fall First has been mixed. All Music Guide rated the album 2 out of 5 and sources like The Metal Observer stated that Nightwish's debut album paled drastically in comparison to their later work. However, on Encyclopaedia Metallum, which features listener reviews, the album scored an average rating of 91%.December 1997 marked the band’s very first concert, after over a year of existence, which was played in their hometown Kitee in Finland. During the winter of 1997–98, the band performed only seven more times because drummer Nevalainen and guitarist Vuorinen were fulfilling their obligatory military service and Turunen had not yet finished her studies.
By this time, Spinefarm Records had realized the band's potential, and extended their contract from two albums into three.
In 1998, the band got further extension when bassist Sami Vänskä, an old friend of Holopainen, joined the band. After shooting the band's first video clip ever, for the song "The Carpenter" from the debut album, they released Oceanborn, the successor of Angels Fall First. This album was more technical and progressive than their first release in terms of songwriting and arrangements. The album also featured Tapio Wilska (ex-Finntroll) on two songs ("Devil and the Deep Dark Ocean" and "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion"), meaning much to Nightwish as this was their first guest vocalist. "Oceanborn" reached number 5 on the Finnish album charts and the first single from that album, Sacrament of Wilderness, went straight to number 1 on the Finnish single charts, where it stayed for several weeks.
The second single to come out was "Walking in the Air", a cover of Howard Blake's piece, part of The Snowman's soundtrack. It had been Holopainen's dream since he first saw "The Snowman", seven years old, to record a cover of it.
In 1999, they recorded the single "Sleeping Sun (Four Ballads of the Eclipse)", for the solar eclipse in Germany. This single sold 15,000 copies during the first month in Germany, and included the songs "Sleeping Sun", "Walking in the Air", "Angels Fall First" and "Swanheart". The song "Sleeping Sun" also led to the band's third music video. It is still known as one of Nightwish's greatest and most listened songs, together with the later releases "Nemo" and "Wish I Had an Angel". For the last half of 2007, it has remained Nightwish's third most listened track on Last.fm.
Oceanborn was a certified gold in August the year after the release.
The next year, in 2000, Nightwish participated in the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Sleepwalker" (later released on the Spinefarm special edition of their next album). They finished the contest in second place, winning the public televoting, but overruled by the jury (sample), and Finland was instead represented by Nina Åström. In 2006, as Lordi, another metal band won the entire competition for Finland with their song "Hardrock Hallelujah", Holopainen was asked in an interview if he thought that Nightwish could have done better if they have only gotten the chance. He answered that he didn't, instead, he was proud of Lordi.
In May they released their highly anticipated third studio album 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. Despite long-awaited releases from Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi, which happened simultaneously, Wishmaster was declared album of the month by the German magazine Rock Hard. The album was succeeded by a promotional single, "The Kinslayer". The song features a dialogue between Turunen and guest vocalist Ike Vil (of the band Babylon Whores).
With "Wishmaster", Nightwish started a line of longer, epic songs to follow, one on each studio album. On Wishmaster, this song was "FantasMic", on Century Child, it was "Beauty of the Beast", on Once it was "Ghost Love Score" and on Dark Passion Play "The Poet and the Pendulum". All of these songs are around or at least ten minutes, which sticks out as Nightwish's songs usually are around five.
Over the Hills and Far Away EP (2001)
In 2001 Nightwish recorded a cover of Gary Moore’s "Over the Hills and Far Away" together with two new songs ("10th Man Down" and "Away") and a remake of "Astral Romance" (from the Angels Fall First album). This was released as their first, and so far only, EP "Over the Hills and Far Away".
The record included guest performances by Tony Kakko (from the power metal band Sonata Arctica) and Tapio Wilska (ex-Fintroll). 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.
Nightwish's version of "Over the Hills and Far Away" was well received by fans, being a repeating part of the band's live performances and featuring on several compilation albums as well as the "End of an Era" DVD (in 2006). However, the other new songs never had a great break-through nor has been re-released in any way, as of January, 2008.
Shortly after the release, bassist Sami Vänskä was asked to leave the band, and Marco Hietala (Tarot, Sinergy) joined the band, effectively leaving Sinergy. Hietala would, apart from playing his instrument, also perform male vocals. Earlier, when needed, either Holopainen (on the Angels Fall First album) or a guest musician performed the male vocals. Holopainen has afterwords said that he and Vänskä still keep in touch, killing off rumours saying that they haven't met since. Though, they are not interested in making another project together. The reason of Vänskä's dismissal was that he and Holopainen were too different as musicians, and this was seen as a threat to the band.
Century Child (2002 - 2003)
In 2002 Nightwish released "Century Child", along with the singles "Ever Dream" and "Bless the Child". The main difference from 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 fans, though, is the band's version of "Phantom of the Opera", from the famous musical of the same name by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The song was repetedly played on concerts till vocalist Tarja Turunen was replaced with Anette Olzon, wheras the band announced that they would never play the song again.
"Century Child" was certified gold two hours after its release, and platinum two weeks afterwards. It set a record on the Finnish album charts as well; never before had the second been so distant from the first place. After the "Bless the Child" video, a second one was recorded, without any single support. The chosen track was "End of All Hope". The clip contains pieces from the Finnish movie, Kohtalon kirja (English: The Book of Fate).
In 2003, Nightwish released their second DVD, entitled "End of Innocence". The DVD 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.
Vocalist Tarja Turunen also got married during the summer of 2003, and there were rumours that the band was about to be dissolved. These rumours were, at the time, proven to be false, as the band continued on to play concerts for another year and released another album. The marriage later meant a great part in Tarja's dismissal from the band in the autumn of 2005.
A new album entitled "Once" was released on June 7, 2004, along with their first single, "Nemo" (Latin for "nobody"), from that album. The single topped the charts in Finland and Hungary, and reached the top ten in five additional countries. "Nemo" therefore remains their most successful single release to date.
With Once, Nightwish started to produce so called orchestral versions of the most famous songs - versions where the music is more calmed down, excepting almost all drums and guitars (even though for example the orchestral version of "Nemo" includes an electric guitar solo). Famous songs that so far has been produced as orchestral versions are for example "Nemo", "Ghost Love Score", "Eva" and "Amaranth".
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 this time, choosing the London Session Orchestra. It is also their second album to feature a full-length song in Finnish, "Kuolema tekee taiteilijan" (English: "Death Makes an Artist"). Once has sold triple platinum in Finland, platinum in Germany, gold in Sweden and reached #1 in the Greek, Norwegian and Hungarian album charts. The following singles were: "Wish I Had an Angel" (featured on the soundtrack of the Alone in the Dark film), "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" (released only in Finland and Japan) and "The Siren". Besides the commercial success, Once was also accepted by critics, with many positive reviewers drawing comparisons with Oceanborn. The success of the album allowed them 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, highlighting acclaim the band has recently gained.
A "best of" album was released in September 2005, containing songs from their whole discography. The compilation is entitled Highest Hopes, also featuring a live cover of Pink Floyd's song "High Hopes" (from the The Division Bell album). This song was the first in which Hietala performs the vocals by himself (sample). Besides High Hopes, a remake of "Sleeping Sun" (from Oceanborn) was put on the album, which was also released as a single. A new video for "Sleeping Sun" was shot, featuring a medieval battle, and can be found on the German release of the single and as a separate DVD released by Spinefarm.
End of an Era (2005–2006)
After the recording in the Hartwall Areena (Helsinki) on the 21st of October, 2005, of the new live DVD End of an Era (released June 2006), the four other members of Nightwish decided that it was best to continue Nightwish without Tarja Turunen, a feeling they expressed through an open letter which was given to Turunen by Tuomas Holopainen after the concert, and afterwards posted on the band's website. It was written by Holopainen but signed by the other band members. The main justification of Turunen's dismissal given in the letter was that the band felt that both her husband Marcelo Cabuli (an Argentine businessman) and commercial interests had changed her attitude towards the band.
Turunen responded to the incident twice, at one press conference in Finland and at one in Germany, saying that her dismissal came entirely as a 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.
Dark Passion Play (2006 – 2007)
In 2006 - 2007, the band recorded their sixth full-length studio album, Dark Passion Play. The process began with drum recordings, then guitar, bass and demo keyboards. Orchestral and choir recordings took place in Abbey Road Studios. After those, the final synthesizers and vocals were recorded.
To find a replacement for Turunen as the female vocalist of the band, on March 17, 2006 the band allowed vocalists interested for the position to send in demo tapes as an audition for the spot. During this time, speculation began to emerge as to who would eventually succeed Turunen as the female vocalist for the band. In April 2007, the heavy metal magazine Terrorizer reported that Sarah Brightman would be the new vocalist, which proved false. In response to these and other rumors, the band stated on their website that fans should not believe any source other than the band itself for information regarding the new vocalist.
For the same reason, the identity of the new singer was to be published earlier, and on Thursday the 24th of May, the 35-year-old Anette Olzon from Katrineholm, Sweden was announced to replace Turunen. Holopainen has said in interviews he did not wish to reveal her identity until new material was available because he did not want fans judging her by nothing more than a picture, or past work.
On the 13th of June Nightwish released the title, Dark Passion Play, and artwork to the new album on their official website, as well as the name and the cover of the second single (this time CD), "Amaranth". The single, that first was released in Finland on August 22, included a bonus track entitled "While Your Lips Are Still Red" written by Tuomas as the main theme track for the upcoming Finnish feature film "Lieksa!". Technically, it is not a Nightwish-track as it only features Marco Hietala on vocals and acoustic bass, Tuomas Holopainen on keys and Jukka Nevalainen on drums. The song’s video was officially released on June 15. "Amaranth" achieved gold status in Finland after less than two days in stores
Dark Passion Play was released around Europe in the last week of September, 2007, in the UK on October 1st, and the United States on October 2nd. There were three separate releases: 1) a single-disc standard version and 2) a 2-CD Special Edition which will contain 1 bonus track on the 1st disc and a 2nd CD comprised of orchestral versions of every song on the album and 3) a limited edition 3CD version with the two CDs from version two and a third one with some demo versions (of for example "The Poet and the Pendulum") as well as some bonus tracks (for example "Bye Bye Beautiful" CD-single's b-side "The Escapist" and the third single "Erämaan Viimeinen", a vocal version of "Last of the Wilds"
In this album, perhaps because of former female vocalist Tarja's dismissal, male vocalist Marco Hietala achieves more freedom in his vocals, singing at least back up in every single song of the album with the exception of "Amaranth", and singing exclusively in several songs, such as "The Islander", "Master Passion Greed", "While Your Lips Are Still Red" and "Reach" (both latter bonus tracks), and singing chorus in songs such as "Bye Bye Beautiful" and "7 Days to the Wolves".
Several magazines, including Kerrang! have noted how the departure of Tarja Turunen seems to have released the band from their shell and how restraint has been left to other bands. The use of some 175 additional musicians for the orchestral and solo parts of the album has resulted in the band now being described as "Epic Metal" by many people - especially in 14 minute album opener "The Poet and The Pendulum". The album was awarded 5/5 (classic) by Kerrang! magazine.
The New Era (2007 -)
On September 22, 2007, the band hosted a secret concert at Rock Café in Tallinn, Estonia, disguising itself as a Nightwish cover band called "Nachtwasser". Their first official concert with the new singer was in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 6, 2007. The Dark Passion Play tour has now visited the United States, Canada, most of Europe, and have (as of December 18, 2007) a planned tour in parts of Asia and Australia, a second tour in North America, Europe and more.
The third single of the album was first reported to be "Bye Bye Beautiful", and a music video to this song was recorded together with "Amaranth"'s, and released in September, 2007. However, changed minds resulted in the third single being "Erämaan Viimeinen", a previously unreleased vocal version of the instrumental song "Last of the Wilds". It was released in Finland only on December 5, 2007. On this song, Jonsu of the Finnish pop/rock band Indica performs the Finnish vocals.
On December 13, 2007, Nightwish opened an official account on YouTube, linked to from their official website. On this, they've uploaded live filmings from their concerts.
On January 8, 2008, "Bye Bye Beautiful" was officially revealed to be the fourth single by the band's official website. It will be released on February 15, 2008, in two versions; DVD and CD.
According to Holopainen, this will be the longest tour the band has yet attempted, and will probably last about two and a half years. As of January, 2008, tour dates are booked until May, 2008. Nightwish has confirmed that they will do a third US tour in 2008's second semester.
As of January, 2008, "Dark Passion Play" is the band's most successful album yet.
Tuomas Holopainen, writer of most of the band's lyrics and musical scores, says that he gets most of the inspiration for Nightwish's songs from film music. Songs like "Beauty of the Beast" (from Century Child) and "Ghost Love Score" (from Once) are examples of this influence. Other songs, such as "Romanticide" and "Wish I Had an Angel" (both from Once) have elements reminiscent of industrial music. Holopainen has also said that film music is the music he listens to for leisure. He likes, for example, the musical scores to Van Helsing and Crimson Tide, and practically everything written by Hans Zimmer.
Fantasy novels are also a big influence on Nightwish's music. Many of the lyrics make fairly clear references to fantasy novels, especially the Dragonlance series. Songs such as "Wishmaster" and Wanderlust seem to be heavily influenced by the novels. References to the The Kharolis Mountains, 'Shalafi' and Krynn can be found in these songs. The music of "7 Days to the Wolves" is inspired by Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.
On the other hand, Nightwish has also been noted as a source of inspiration for other bands. Simone Simons, lead singer of Epica, stated that she began singing due to Nightwish. Ex-singer of Visions of Atlantis Nicole Bogner also acknowledged that Nightwish had greatly inspired them for their first album. Sander Gommans of After Forever said that Nightwish "will certainly influence us in creating new songs". Power metal band Sonata Arctica's lead singer Tony Kakko has explained how much of an influence Nightwish is to him.
A precise definition for Nightwish's musical style is disputed. The band has been suggested as being part of the genres gothic metal, symphonic metal, and power metal. Tuomas Holopainen once described their music as "melodic heavy metal with a female vocalist".
In the beginning of Nightwish's career, in 1996, Holopainen's idea of the band was to create a new but still old genre; the kind of acoustic music played by the open fire on hiking events, to confront radio and CD scene. As he in 1997 realized that Turunen's voice would be much too strong for such a project, though, he abandoned it to instead focus on metal. Since, Nightwish's music has been very experimental, focusing on mixing genres and using material that is old, but new to the scene.
The definition symphonic metal is based on Nightwish's inclusion of instruments and vocal styles of classical music and film scores, as well as the massive use of keyboard effects (Holopainen). Bassist / vocalist Marco Hietala has also called their music "film score metal" similar to the music of Rhapsody of Fire. The uplifting fantasy themes, epic atmospheres, high vocals, guitar and keyboard solos and fast melodic musical style of Nightwish's music, especially the first three albums, place them in the power metal genre similar to other Finnish bands such as Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. The gothic metal tag is usually used by magazines such as Kerrang as many Nightwish songs have gothic elements, such as the lyrics, the simple guitar riffs and piano, and Beauty and the Beast lyrics. However, the gothic metal elements are not used frequently enough to mark the entire band's genre, but only a few songs / albums; for example "Phantom of the Opera and "Beauty and the Beast".
A new era for Nightwish's musical style began with "Century Child" and was developed further with the next albums, "Once" and "Dark Passion Play". The guitars were downtuned and simplified to a lower rhythmical sound closer to modern hard rock than the old melodic power metal style leads and Tarja Turunen's vocals lost some of their operatic edge, becoming closer to standard rock female singing. As Turunen was replaced with Anette Olzon in 2007, practically everything of the operatic vocals were lost, for the Dark Passion Play album. Male vocals from new bassist Marco Hietala added a new, rougher dimension to songs like "Planet Hell" and "Wish I Had An Angel".
Demos and EPs
- "Nightwish Demo" (1996)
- "Angels Fall First Demo" (1997)
- "Wishmastour 2000 EP" (2000)
- "Over the Hills And Far Away EP" (2001)
- "Angels Fall First" (1997)
- "Oceanborn" (1998)
- "Wishmaster" (2000)
- "Century Child" (2002)
- "Once" (2004)
- "Dark Passion Play" (2007)
- "The Carpenter" (1997)
- "Sacrament of Wilderness" (1998)
- "Passion and the Opera" (1998)
- "Walking in the Air" (1999)
- "Sleeping Sun (4 Ballads of the Eclipse)" (1999)
- "The Kinslayer" (2000)
- "Deep Silent Complete" (2000)
- "Ever Dream" (2002)
- "Bless the Child" (2002)
- "Nemo" (2004)
- "Wish I Had an Angel" (2004)
- "Kuolema tekee taiteilijan" (2004)
- "The Siren" (2005)
- "Sleeping Sun" (2005)
- "Eva" (2007)
- "Amaranth" (2007)
- "Erämaan Viimeinen" (2007)
- "Bye Bye Beautiful" (2008)
|Tuomas Holopainen||1996 -||Keyboards, composition, vocals on Angels Fall First, backing vocals on Over the Hills and Far Away and Dark Passion Play||Founder of the band.|
|Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen||1996 -||Guitars, bass on Angels Fall First||---|
|Jukka Nevalainen||1997 -||Drums||---|
|Marco Hietala||2001 -||Bass, vocals||Replacement of Sami Vänskä.|
|Anette Olzon||2007 -||Vocals||Replacement of Tarja Turunen.|
|Tarja Turunen||1996 - 2005||Vocals||Kicked out in an open letter after the Once tourings.|
|Samppa Hirvonen||1997||Bass||Only live. Singer and bassist of Division 19.|
|Marjaana Pellinen||1997||Backing vocals and second keyboard||Only live.|
|Sami Vänskä||1998 - 2001||Bass||Replaced by Marco Hietala.|
|Tapio Wilska||1998||Deep Male Vocals||Sessonal member on Oceanborn.|
|Years||Name||Albums / songs||Instrument||Other bands|
||London Session Orchestra||