The Finnish are quite an odd group of people. Aside from having the ability to consume more alcohol than a college frat party, their country is home to some of today’s best modern metal bands, including Sonata Arctica, Children Of Bodom, Sentenced, Kalmah, and the ilk. These bands have had a tremendous impact on the metal scene, influencing countless new bands, yet they still manage to pull it off the best.
However, one rises above them all. One band managed to kickstart a revolution, of metal with female vocals. One band has released 5 albums, each of them a stunning work of musical nirvana and originality. One band has managed to sell a extraordinary amount of records, and sell out shows, without sacrificing a single thing. Their music is just as good and original as the day they started, and is some of the most unique in all of metal.
Who is this band (I think it should be pretty obvious)?
For those of you who don’t know, it will be the first word to a whole new world of music:
- From Wishes To Eternity
- April 2001 on Spinefarm/Century Media records
Tarja Turunen - Vocals
Tuomas Holopainen - Keyboards/Synths/Pianos
Emppu Vuorinen - Guitars
Sami Vanska - Bass
Jukka Nevalainen - Drums
Tony Kakko - Guest Vocals (Beauty And The Beast)
Wilska - Guest Vocals (The Pharaoh Sails To Orion)
As most Nightwish fans know, Tarja was kicked out of the band. However, when she was with them, they made some absolutely amazing music. This DVD (or VHS, or live album, which is rather hard to find considering it was only released in Finland) captures the band on one of their dates of the Wishmaster tour, their third album.
Nightwish plays a unique (well, when they started, at least) form of metal. They combined power metal with folk and symphonic elements, and put opera vocals over the whole thing. It may take some time to get into, but once you do, it’s some of the best music you’ll ever hear.
Coming from a Nightwish fan, the DVD, simply put, is superb. Nightwish is known for being quite spot on with their music live, and aside from a few changed riffs (and the fact that only 1 guitar is playing; on many of their songs, the guitar is overdubbed a few times) they sound like they do on their albums, except with the energy and intensity of a live concert. Some of the instrumentation the band plays is absolutely jawdropping, thanks to master composer Tuomas, and Tarja’s vocals are absolutely phenomenal. For those of you who haven’t heard her voice, you’re in for a real treat. Tarja is an opera soprano singer. Yes, I realize they’re all over the place in metal now, but she is an actual opera singer. Her voice never goes into the “poppy" style found in bands such as Within Temptation, Evanescence (most people associate them with female leads) and Lunatica, it is always very powerful. Her voice is beautiful, haunting, melancholic, and uplifting, all at the same time. She commands respect, and deserves nothing less than your utmost attention. True, it does take a bit to get into her vocals, but once you do, you’ll be hooked forever.
Of course, the rest of the band aren’t slouches either. Some people criticize the band because they aren’t very technical, which isn’t true. Yes, they aren’t technical ALL the time, but you’d be suprised at how hard some of their music is. Emppu can solo (and demonstrates his excellent ability in quite a few tracks), but most of his duties involve playing riffs. The catch? A lot of his riffs are as hard as solos; Emppu is a brilliant riffer (for lack of a better term), filling in spaces that would normally be played by a second guitarist.
Tuomas is a great keyboardist as well, a good match for Emppu. He usually doesn’t solo, but his keyboard riffs are also at technical as quite a few solos. He has duets with Emppu, standalone riffs that command attention, and lots of atmospheric work as well. His keys add tons to the music, and make the band even better than they would normally be. Actually, the band wouldn’t be anything with out him, considering he formed it and writes all the music. :P
Vanska...well, what can I say? He’s the bassist. Almost nobody gives a crap about the bassist. He does his job, and not much else. He’s turned down rather low in the mix as well, so it makes it harder to hear him. He has since been replaced with the excellent Marco Hietala, who surpasses him in every way possible IMO.
And finally, Jukka. The skinmaster. Some people criticize Jukka of being an average power metal drummer, but he is beyond that. He alternates drums at a furious pace, switching beats quite often, and keeping the audience interested. One gripe I have with him though is he relies too much on the bass, snare, bass bass snare style of drumming, especially in their ballads. The rest of the time, he’s quite good.
From Wishes To Eternity has quite a good setlist as well, encompassing most of Wishmaster, with the rest of their songs being their big hits from their 2 previous albums, Angels Fall First and Oceanborn. As said before, the music is spot on, aside from some changed riffs here and there. Their stage show is decent as well; the band makes a good effort of getting the crowd into the music, there’s some pyrotechnics and other effects, lighting show is decent, and so forth. What may be most important, though, is how rooted the band seems in the music. They seem to be emotionally attached to what they are playing, as if it’s more than just a career. That, for me personally, means a lot; it shows the band really cares about what they are doing. They put their hearts and souls into the music, and it comes back as this great, great experience.
Two of their songs also feature guest singers. The first, being The Pharaoh Sails To Orion, one of the best tracks off of Oceanborn, features Wilska, who recorded the vocals for that song and another, Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean, on the album. He’s pretty spot on, if a bit funny; his facial expressions are quite amusing, as if he’s trying to belch up the words. However, the real treat comes in the form of Beauty Of The Beast, which features Tony Kakko (yes, THE Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica) on Tuomas’s vocal part. Again, Tony is an excellent singer, one of (I think) the best in the power metal genre. Powerful voice, and a great match for Tarja.
The band also does some interesting things throughout the concert, such as in Wanderlust, the part where it pauses, they make the pause longer, and the song Elvenpath goes straight into the third part of their epic track off Wishmaster, Fantasmic (that sentence was a bit hard to read, yes, but it would sound weirder and tedious broken up).
In addition to a 14 track concert (which is worth the price of the DVD alone), the band throws in some extras. Pretty standard extras: 2 music videos, Sleeping Sun and The Carpenter, both skippable (Nightwish was never really good at making music videos) unless you’ve never heard the songs (Sleeping Sun especially is Tarja at her most emotional), 2 extra live tracks (both of which were in the original concert) recorded at other spots on their tour, a photo gallery, and what the band calls “deleted scenes". This translates to off stage footage, of the band screwing around at all the different spots on tour. While they are pretty standard drunken moments (bothering people late at night, causing mayhem, etc etc), they will have you cracking up. Nobody does drunken rampages better than the Finns. Other famous people make guest cameos, including all of Sinergy (which Nightwish does some absolutely messed up, yet absolutely hilarious things to when they go out on stage), and select others. The “deleted scenes" are quite extensive too, encompassing 20-30 minutes. Also included are 2 interviews, one with Tarja (who’s shirt you can see down the whole time) and one with Tuomas.
- Considering that you won’t see the original lineup of the band anymore, this is your best bet to catching Nightwish in concert. A great setlist full of some of the best music you’ll ever hear, along with some hilarious moments, makes for a superb DVD (or live album, whichever you may get).
- For Nightwish fans of any level, this gets at 10/10. For the rest of you, a 9/10.
Astute listeners will hear Jukka screw up during one part of a song. I’ll leave it up to you to find out where (or you can visit the Nightwish thread and find my post about it).
Some say the audio doesn’t match up with the video, which I haven’t noticed. That may be a deciding factor for some though.