Interview with Tuomas Holopainen
Rock Hard Valhalla: Well, let’s start with the beginning of what we call the “New Era” to Nightwish. As we know, the demo CD that Anette sent to you was one of the first ones you got, right?
Tuomas Holopainen: Yes! Actually, was one of the first twenty that we received, already on November of 2005.
RHV: We know that when you got this CD, you got really surprised with her interpretation for Ever Dream, and has even said that the way she sung it was the best that you have ever heard.
TH: Indeed, and I can say that she became a parameter for everything we would receive. I mean, she totally came out of the bushes, totally from nowhere and sent a demo with only one song, Ever Dream. I opened her pack, read her letter, put the CD to play and was totally amazed with the material, after all, I didn’t know what expect and we didn’t have any idea about what kind of singer we were looking for. Her voice amazed all the band! Everything sounded so natural, so easy and good that everyone enjoyed. More than a singer, I can say that Anette is a good story teller. She has a very particular form to give life to the lyrics, because usually, she understands what they say. Anyway, as the whole incident with Tarja happened just 3 weeks before that, we decided to take it easy and wait one more year, since the last thing we had was hurry.
RHV: This is good, because gives me the impression that even being too early for you to think in a substitute for Tarja’s place, at least you guys could relax about the quality of the material that you were about to receive.
TH: Absolutely! I can say that was exactly this way. On that moment, we had the impression that there’s lots of amazing singers around the world, so, we believed that that everything would be ok (laughs).
RHV: After all, have ever existed other singer that made your choice more difficult or Anette was like a black diamond since the very beginning?
TH: Well, to be honest, from the almost two thousand demos that we received, I can say that fifty of them impressed the band to a point that made us send to these people an instrumental copy of Once, so they could sing some Nightwish’s songs to us. So, from these fifty, we chose about ten, with whom we met and played some songs live, on the studio. In the end, the decision was really, really hard but was unanimous between us that Anette should be the chosen. And I really think that we picked the best one.
RHV: Well, after listening the new album a few times, I can only agree! (laughs)
TH: Good! (laughs) It’s that thing, you know… first we only knew the basic: that she is swedish, thirty five years old, a nice background, which is really good but we didn’t have any idea about how she was as a person. So, we had to meet her a couple of times to know her better. The problem firstly was how she would be personally. But in the same moment that we met her for the first time, we realized that she is a really nice girl and would be a lot easy for us to get along with her.
RHV: True. Particularly, I have the impression that in a few months, she had already more fun with you guys than Tarja had in almost ten years with the band. For instance, she was in parties with the band, likes to rehearse, traveled to Germany to see Tarot’s gig and has just returned from Disney with you.
TH: Yes, she was there too! As you can see, we’re getting along really well. We had great moments with Tarja too, but in the end was different. Anyway, we are living happy days with Anette, everything looks really good, although, you never know what can happen. I mean, we know her for only five months and you can’t say in such a short time that you really know a person. I know there’s secrets in her that we don’t know yet and vice versa, everything is a constant learning process for us. But yes, at the moment everything is really, really good.
RHV: It brings me to a weird and different question: are you afraid that she could not stand the routine and Nightwish’s frenetic rhythm and maybe decide to leave the band in one or two years? I mean, do you have some contract to avoid it or it’s just better let things roll naturally?
TH: Of course we talk about it, but we don’t have any kind of contract with her. You know, people usually change their minds all the time and suddenly any member can leave the band. Everybody changes mind sometimes. I don’t think that we have to do any kind of contract about that, like we were forcing her to be with the band for more five years or for more two or three albums. For now, we all agree that she is a member of Nightwish, recorded an album with us and will be touring and promoting the new songs. We hope that she stay with us for the next twenty years, but it’s better to walk day-by-day.
RHV: It’s been really touching to see the way she talks about her new band’s mates and her entry on Nightwish to the European Media. She seems to be really glad with that!
TH: Yes, she is a very kind person, a true genuine character. This is what I respect the most in her. She is totally ordinary, humble and simple person, as the guys are. She’s not a star at all! She is simply a nice girl, nice to hang with and sings very well. And that’s all we need at the moment.
RHV: Just to make It clear: Did the band, somehow, ever thought that only an already known singer would have chance to get the job?
TH: No, not at all. Actually, it was as simple as this: we didn’t care about who she would be, we just wanted a nice voice and a really good “guy”! (laughs) We never looked for a famous or not famous person. It’s so true that we ended up with a Swedish girl! Even with this historical love and hate thing between Finland and Sweden, we got a Swedish. (laughs) Good that 99% of the people don’t care about these things, just the way it should be.
RHV: Talking a little bit about the songwriting process of the new album, Dark Passion Play. You always said that you imagined Tarja’s voice to compose the vocal lines. How was these time, to compose vocal lines for the new songs? Has something changed or you already had an idea about what you wanted?
TH: The process was exactly the same. I heard that voice in my head, but didn’t know what kind of or who’s voice was. I stayed there, thinking in the vocal lines and hearing that voice in my head, as a guide. Actually, doing these songs was extremely easy for me. I wrote fifteen songs in only four months, which is the easier songwriting process for me until now.
RHV: It scares me in a good way, because the album is so huge in many aspects that’s hard to understand how such thing can be written in such a short time (laughs).
TH: Yeah, I know, but that’s it! (laughs) It was a really emotional moment to me, when good and bad dramas were around me, and that affects you in a certain way, makes you want to write songs. That is what happened this time. This is how I explain that.
RHV: Getting a bit back to Anette, how was the firsts rehearsals with her, singing old and new songs?
TH: The first rehearsal with her was actually the first time we met either. She came to the studio, we talked a little bit and rehearsed with her six old songs, as we agreed. The songs were: Higher Than Hope, Nemo, Wish I Had An Angel, Ever Dream, Sleeping Sun and The Siren. When she started to sing, everything sounded so good, we all felt convinced about her qualities. After that, we were just jamming for more two hours. Only on t he next day, when she back to the studio, where we had already recorded the basis of the new album, that she tried to sing three new songs: Sahara, Bye Bye Beautiful and Eva. She has done a great work on these tracks too and we felt really satisfied since that.
RHV: Straight about Dark Passion Play now. Obviously, all the problems between the band, Tarja and her husband, Marcelo, was the inspiration source to write this album. How was to compose about all that stuff?
TH: Was incredibly easy. Songs are emotion’s manifestations, from different feelings. You can’t write songs when you’re empty inside, when nothing is happening around you. That time I was suffering of the worst pains and feelings you can have in your life, but on the other hand, when all the problem was gone, I felt the uppermost relief. So, I was feeling good things too. Those feelings mixed and all that influenced me in a natural way. All this can be noted on the album, all these problems. Of course is not only a concept album about what happened between me and Tarja, there are other themes too, but definitely this affected me a lot.
RHV: One can hear and feel that on Dark Passion Play. It’s not even necessary to read the lyrics. The album actually transmits this bombastic and tragic air many times, since we have this so massive sound with a beautiful and dramatic voice of Anette’s. I would even say that the album doesn’t sound like an ordinary album, but like a score to a tragic theater’s play sometimes.
TH: Hmm, yeah, you are right. This was a good term! Theater play. Sometimes even I think that some track is not a single music, but is a theatre play theme. It fits perfectly, for example, on the first one, The Poet And The Pendulum. Although the whole album is, actually, ridiculously huge (laughs). In every aspect. And it can be a sign that maybe it’ll become a timeless album, because there no chance to understand the entire album after one single listening. You have to listen repeatedly to start to understand everything and really see some sense on that, which is good, because you not only create, but give to the public something more challenger.
RHV: Some days ago (Note: this interview was made on 6th june) Eva leaked before its release date on the internet. By one side, I was positively surprised with most people reacting to the to the voice changing, on the other side, being honest, I should say that the song doesn’t fit even a little with the reality of Dark Passion Play, because...
TH: (interrupting) Yes, it’s true! One of the things that I really don’t like on the music industry nowadays is the fact that you have to release singles. You end up putting the music in some kind of altar, and in the end it doesn’t make justice to the whole album or the song itself. I really hate the fact of being necessary to release singles on the market. Eva doesn’t represent in any way the content of Dark Passion Play, but, as always happens, was chosen to be the first hit. But, as you said, after all was a relief, because we felt a huge support from media and fans. And it was time to stop hiding Anette as well, that was a hell of a work! (laughs)
RHV: Talking about that, what did you guys do to keep her in the shadows for such a long time?
TH: We always avoided to be seen together at the airport. Inside the plane we were sitting totally apart and distant from each other. When she needed to come to Finland, we booked different hotels, with different names and all these kinds of things. We took a lot of care with these details and I think we got a good result.
RHV: Indeed! Yet about our previous question, there’s one “funny” thing about the leaking of Eva. A lot of people insists on judging an album and even the whole future of a band based on one single song. I’d say these people will so burn their mouth after hearing the whole album! (laughs)
TH: (laughs) Yeah, and those people should be ashamed! I can’t just believe there’s still people this dumb, judging an album based in one single song or even a 30 seconds sample of it. What a shame! I couldn’t care less. At least we know the most part of the fans, liking Eva or not, understands that’s just a first single, a nice ballad, and will definitely give the whole album a chance. Just the way it should be.
RHV: So let’s back to The Poet And The Pendulum, the first track. It is, by far, in my opinion, the best Nightwish’s song ever made. As I said before, this one sounds like a theater’s play, since it seem to have five different songs in it. Also there’s a lot of movie-like sounds, giving a tragic atmosphere to the track. Tell me a bit more about this song.
TH: It’s a song… (stop and think). It’s a very personal song, about the uppermost self hate and self disgust you can feel. The feeling that you’ll never stop doing wrong things in your life. On this song, I actually killed myself. There’s a line that goes like: “Today, in the year of our Lord, 2005, Tuomas was called from the cares of the world”.
RHV: Oh, now it’s clear that this heartbeat fading is yours then...
TH: Yes, exactly. The heartbeat fades away. But after that comes the resurrection! (laughs) The last tree minutes is like my ressurection. Jesus-like! (laughs) But seriously again, it was something that I really had to do. Is the most ugly and disturbing lyrics I’ve ever wrote, but I needed to do it. Now I feel a certain relief with that.
RHV: Since we’re talking about bombastic things, how was working with London Session Orchestra and with Pip Willians again?
TH: It was so fantastic, just like the first time, but in certain way even better now! (excited) I know I’ve said this when we recorded Once, but these people are such musical and passionate at what they’re doing. I can only say it’s a great honor to see them playing our songs. It’s fantastic! And this time wasn’t just the orchestra and the choir, but a gospel choir too, which was very cool to record, some celtic instruments and the “boys sopranos” singing in The Poet And The Pendulum. We ended up being eight days at Abbey Road Studios. So cool!
RHV: The gospel choir did a wonderful job in Meadows Of Heaven! It’s a very strong song and will impress a lot of people. How did you come with the idea for this song? After all, mixing heavy metal with this groovy choir voices isn’t a thing that people expect.
TH: THAT’S where it came from! (laughs) I intend to always raise new things, try and experiment new elements in our songs. After Once, I started to think: what kind of music could exist in the world and we didn’t try to do yet? (laughs) Or what kinds of instruments, things, we could use. Suddenly, I realized that the gospel choirs are amazing, because it has a very strong sound, people sing in a very genuine way! Then I said we would need to have one of these choirs in the new album. I told Pip Willians about the necessity of a gospel choir in a song and he booked one of these, which made a wondeful job in Meadows Of Heaven. But you can listen to the choir on the chorus of Eva as well. They ended up doing some stuff in this song too.
RHV: The end of Meadows of Heaven, with the choir’s singers doing some solos is absolutely amazing! This is for sure one of the best songs of the whole album.
TH: Yes! And that part with the solos was totally improvised! Those people never heard the song before starting recording it, actually. They just started to sing those “Heaven, heaven” in every possible ways. I told them they could do whatever they wanted, except to mention the words “Jesus” and “halleluia” (laughs). Then they started to laugh, and that made me realize that they have a good sense of humor. It’s one of my favorites too. At the moment, I’d pick The Poet And The Pendulum, Sahara and Meadows Of Heaven as my favorites.
RHV: I don’t know if you have already heard it, but some fans of Nightwish usually joke and say that they always burn their mouth, because when they think you can’t come with something better and bigger, you actually do that. Do you think that the fact of you are always growing on the music, in a certain way, makes some pressure on you to always write better songs?
TH: (laughs) This is cool, but I see that more like a matter of personal opinion. I know that we are in a constant evolution, from one album to the other. I really don’t know what to say to the word “bigger”, but it is being better all the time, although I really don’t have any idea about what will happen in the future. Dark Passion Play is so big that I don’t know what we’re gonna do next, if we will keep this line or if we will sound totally different. I really don’t know.
RHV: Even being a huge album, in Dark Passion Play you can notice a lot of moments where Anette’s voice stands out a lot in the middle of that mountain sound. It’s the case of songs like Amaranth, Candence Of Her Last Breath, Whoever Brings The Night and also Meadows Of Heaven. Besides For the Heart I Once Had, with a very high chorus. That songs suffered some kind of change on the studio or they ended up on the album exactly the way they were written?
TH: To be honest with you, Anette was able to sing all the vocal lines I’ve wrote. There isn’t anything that we had to change and that impressed us a lot. Of course that some songs were harder, like For The Heart I Once Had, but this song is difficult for any person to sing. But she recorded it perfectly. There was nothing written by us that she couldn’t sing.
RHV: Eva is just a single for download. Firstly, you wanted to put an edited version of The Poet And The Pendulum as the first real single, with video and everything else, but Amaranth was chosen in the end. How was all that and why this changing?
TH: It’s true. There was so many things happening at the same time. I really wanted The Poet And The Pendulum as the first single, but then we started to discuss it and all kinds of problems started to appear. They were saying that nobody would play the video of the song, etc. And the obstacles kept coming. So, somebody suggested that we should put Amaranth as the first working single and I just agreed, for me it’s just fine. As I said to you previously, I don’t care about the singles, is the total content of the album that really matters to me. And I think Amaranth is very good, because it has less than four minutes, is very catchy and works very well as a single.
RHV: What makes it very interesting is that even having a comercial appeal for being a single, at first Amaranth would be just a bonus track from Dark Passion Play! (laughs)
TH: Yes! (laughs).This is quite funny, actually! It was the last song in my list of preferences among the fifteen I’ve wrote! And even after recorded, without the vocals, it was still like a bonus track for us. Only after Anette recorded her vocals we felt that this track gained a lot of life, and then we started to like it a lot. Now it’s here, first single! (laughs) I don’t want to sound repetitive, but I hope people understand that is just a single, because this song doesn’t represent the whole thing either.
RHV: Something that the band brought back in Dark Passion Play, after some albums, was an instrumental track. In the case, Last of the Wilds, that makes you feel like dancing around a bonfire (laughs). Why have you decided to record a track like this again, after all these years?
TH: To tell the truth, I don’t even remember if this song was born like an instrumental track. We just let it roll to see what would happen with it in London, in the additional records. Then we heard the performance of Troy Donoclkey and Nollaig Casey with their Irish instruments. They was there, jamming this song so delightfully that made us really impressed and then we thought that It had to be instrumental! It is like a cool war between Ireland and Finland, you know? We have Emppu on the guitars and Senni Eskelinen playing the kantele, a typical finnish instrument, and they have their Irish instruments. And everybody keeps dueling for five minutes, all the time, which I think it’s a great idea. Everything works on this music, I love the final result. It really makes you want to be drunk and start do dance around (laughs).
RHV: Well, a bit about the polemic side of the album. I even think that you’re already waiting for this question. Are you prepared to deal with some people, both media and fans, that will probably not understand lyrics like Bye Bye Beautiful and Master Passion Greed?
TH: I don’t even think about it, to be honest. And I truly don’t care. Strong themes like those make me write songs, that way I can get rid of my bad feelings. That’s what made me a musician. There is no way in the world that I would just hold what I feel and avoid this kind of subject. And this is the result. If it offends someone, what a pity, but I had to do that. When you listen to these songs, when you read their lyrics… (pause) Maybe people will understand that they were not made to offend anybody. For example, Bye Bye Beautiful was made in really good terms, with sense. It’s a sad song, I’d say and it’s not about blaming someone, it only tells what I was feeling.
RHV: Yes. If I understood correctly the meaning of Bye Bye Beautiful, I’d say that it’s much more about everything that the person lost when she couldn’t see what Nightwish was all about, what the band’s essence.
TH: Yes, exactly. And like the lyrics says: “you chose the long road, but we’ll waiting”, it’s a way to bring at least half of the guilt to myself. It’s not a mocking song, it was never my intention to mock people with it. No one of them, actually. It’s just about writing to feel free of those bad strong feelings I had at the moment, nothing else.
RHV: And even with a strong theme, Bye Bye Beautiful it’s a extremely exciting and catchy song, so much that I can guess it will be the second sing of Dark Passion Play, with a videoclip and everything else, right?
TH: Yes, that’s correct. At the moment we’re here in Los Angeles (USA) shooting our next two videos, for the songs Amaranth and Bye Bye Beautiful. I cannot say anything about them yet, but it’s gonna be GOOD! (laughs)
RHV: Lyrics apart, Master Passion Greed scares in a good way, because it’s so heavy. And only Marco sings on this track.
TH: It’s a simple thing actually. I do the things the most natural way possible and this song had to be like that, heavy. Anette don’t sing on it because would be unfair to put her inside one subject she have nothing to do with. That’s why only Marco sings Master Passion Greed. It can even sound selfish, I know (laughs), but we cannot think on fans’ reaction when we’re doing music. We only do what we like and what we want to, if someone don’t like Master Passion Greed, then just skip it and don’t listen to the song.
RHV: Marco wrote an entire track singed by him, called The Islander, and so did Emppu, with Whoever Brings The Night. How was to you to work for the first time with tracks totally made by other members?
TH: It’s totally clear to everybody that all of them can bring songs to Nightwish. If these songs are between the best ones and fit the whole thing, of course they’ll be used on the band. Marco just appeared with this acoustic melody e during the rehearsals that turned to be a very interesting track. We could add some nice celtic and Irish touches on it. On the other hand, Emppu showed us this bunch of different riffs and it was a rough work to find a proper vocal melody to fit this song (laughs)! It’s a typical guitarist-song, lots of riffs and Anette sings really well here. But just for the record, I still keep doing all the lyrics (laughs).
RHV: About the upcoming tour, you’ll start it on USA and Canada, and I believe that one of the reasons for that is the fact that Nightwish and Tarja’s name aren’t that big there yet, so it’d be easier for the band. Tell us about it.
TH: Yes, this is one reason. But the main reason is because we had to cancel two tours there in the past years, so I believe that we owe this to the fans. Besides that, we have a brand new singer and I would be scared to death if we needed to start the tour playing in some big European arenas. It’s gonna be good to put things in their right place with Anette, you know? Nobody knows us there, we’ll play in venues with capacity between 400 and 2000 people and it will be a good warm-up for her too. After five weeks, I believe we will be ready to face our already known and traditional public.
RHV: The obvious question: Do you already have an idea of when Brazil will be included on the band’s schedule?
TH: God, I really don’t know yet, because there will be two years of touring! (laughs) But, as I heard from the agency dudes, I believe we will be back in Brazil in 2008, probably in the second semester.
RHV: About the plans of doing a big show with an orchestra, like was planned to happen in the end of the Once Upon a Tour. Do you still have this idea to play at the legendary Royal Albert Hall?
TH: We’re gonna try it, for sure! Last time didn’t happen, but we will try our best to make such an big event like this happen with this album. It’d be nice to do it to end the tour, which should happen only in late 2009. Then we would have the orchestra, choir, Irish instruments and even dancers if that be the case. That would be one of my biggest dreams coming true! I don’t know about making it at the Royal Albert Hall, but it needs to be done in some really beautiful, old and theatrical place like that, for sure. This is not a festival thing to do. Something big like that needs a better acoustic and everything else.
RHV: Before finishing it, what’s your feeling now, after everything happened between you and Tarja, after a long process to pick up a new singer, recordings, new album etc?
TH: I’m feeling relieved, pretty good actually. But a little sad too, cause of what happened. Even If I think now that is part of our history. I really wish all the best to Tarja and her career. And about Nightwish, I really think that the new album is really good. I couldn’t be more satisfied with it. Same thing with the new singer, we’re really happy about her and for being able to tour again. God only knows how people will react at the shows, we cannot just predict that, but let’s just hope for the best.
RHV: Well, it’s your final space now to make some final considerations. Feel free to give us a message.
TH: I just would like to say that the band is really relaxed right now. The atmosphere between the members is the best since a long time and I would like to tell the fans once again not to take single songs too seriously. Just wait for the whole album, give it a chance, listen to it a few times and them say if you like or not. I really think it’s worth getting because it’s a big work. And, of course I can’t wait to play there again. I hope to see you all soon! To know that we’re starting to book some shows in Brazil already makes me anxious! Until there, take care!
3 questions from fans to Tuomas Holopainen:
Thiago Cardoso – Curitiba/PR: Nightwish has already been in Brazil four times. What place did you like the most? And what place do you want to know?
Tuomas: It’s impossible to mention just one place, because all the shows we’ve done in Brazil were awesome! I know it sounds too corny and cliché but it’s true. And a place that I would love to play is the North, in the middle of the Amazonas, in the city of Manaus for example. This is a place we’ve never been yet and would be pretty cool to visit.
César Galvão – Londrina/PR: To the new tour, do you intent to use the same keybords set that you used on Once Upon A Tour or we should expect some changes?
Tuomas: I’ll use basically the same. I still use KORG’s keys, because they sponsor me and I really think they are the best for the kind of music we play. Maybe I can change on model or other, but the basic set to the shows will be the same.
Various: What can you say about the way Anette sings the old Nightwish songs? Do you think the fans will enjoy?
Tuomas: Everything we heard she singing so far, like Ever Dream, The Siren, Higher Than Hope, Nemo, sounded really wonderful. We really liked the result and we are all very delighted with everything she did on the songs. At the moment, this is what really matter. When the shows start, I know many people will say that they hated the way she sings, but at the same time, many people will like a lot what she have done. Only time will tell.
3 questions from fans to Anette Olzon:
01. Jonas Santana – Catanduva/SP: Every single career has pros and cons. As a singer of a famous band like Nightwish, what do you think it will be the good and bad for you?
Anette Olzon: Well, it’s hard to answer to that before start to really live it, but I think the positive side it’s the fact that I’ll be able to work with music full time, as I’ve always dreamed to, and I’ll meet many different places in the world. The negative side could be the fact of being the only woman in the middle of many men, maybe I could feel alone every once in a while. And the tight schedule could be, for sure so cruel to a singer, if she got a flue, for example.
02. Flávia Lorenzon – São Paulo/SP: Your former band, Alyson Avenye, was awesome! Even knowing that Nightwish is now your priority, do you think you would find some time to them if they decided to get back to play a few shows?
Anette Olzon: The boys are already busy with another band and now I have Nightwish, so I don’t think we will see Alyson Avenye to play again. It’s been a while since we got separate ways, each of the guys is doing their own things, so I really don’t think it will happen.
03. Erika Méier – Brasília/DF: How is your relationship with the other Nightwish members now?
Anette Olzon: As every job or team work, it takes some time until you really know the people you’re dealing with. Always happens to have this kind of honey moon, when anybody have nothing bad to say about the others etc. After some time I think we will have more serious talk, as like any other group, but nothing that could become a real problem, as long as we keep a good communication. At the moment everything is fine and we’re spending a great time together!
TRACK BY TRACK REVIEW OF DARK PASSION PLAY
01 – The Poet And The Pendulum: The creativity of the eternal Kitee boy seems not to have an end. A few months ago, Tuomas Holopainen, lighted the fire to the fans on the internet, saying that the album would have a 14 minutes-long epic. Well, besides being long, The Poet And The Pendulum is the opening track of Dark Passion Play and I should say it’s not really fair and possible to put it into words. If tracks like Beauty Of The Beast and Ghost Love Score already sounded huge to the fans, to compare them with The Poet And The Pendulum is definitely a coward act. With dark, soft, somewhat horror-like passages, riffs like Pantera’s, Marco singing really angry, cinematographic sounds and a chorus that takes the breath away, this is by far the best song Nightwish ever recorded. An amazing start to Anette, although the vocals are more like secondary stuff on this track. By the way, on this track, we can hear the “boys sopranos” singing. And to finish, a nice curiosity: they something like 300 tracks in the studio to record and mix this song! Don’t listen to it on poor computer speakers, you’ll lose lots of details of it.
02 – Bye Bye Beautiful: It’s not even necessary to be that smart to guess what is the main theme on this track. That’s right, the whole incident between band and Tarja obviously affected them and all those feelings made the keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen gives life to Dark Passion Play. But, in some songs, the words weren’t used in the beautiful and metaphorical meanings, but in a really straight way, like Bye Bye Beautiful. With a keyboard melody that reminds us the classic “Live and Let Die”, really heavy guitars and Marco Hietala singing the most part of the song, we can face this one as the new Wish I Had An Angel. Future single of Dark Passion Play, Bye Bye Beautiful will probably turn into a big live classic and if it could have it’s theme shorted into a question, that might be: “Tarja, did you ever understand what Nightwish is about?”
03 – Amaranth: Do you know the “The Ugly Duckling” classic? Here it’s called Amaranth. This song, would be, at first, a bonus track, but after some time band and record company started not only to like but decided to include it on the final tracklist and release it as the first working single of Dark Passion Play. It’s a typical single-like track, not slow and not fast, with soft keys passages mixed with heavy guitars. Everybody can listen it’s chorus, catchy and cheering, available to download at the band’s official website. We can also point Anette’s versatility, singing in different ways on the whole song. Will be the first video-track for the album.
04 – Cadence Of Her Last Breath: If I need to point one song that stays in the head after the very first listening, that would be Cadence Of Her Last Breath. With a strong bass line and a guitar riff that matches the vocal melodies, it’s not possible to not to sing this melody after Dark Passion Play ends. Anette is on the first spot, singing some higher notes and giving Marco some space to put some vocal parts in the chorus. It’s not one of the best moments of the album, but it sounds good, catches you so much that it makes justice to its part on the whole thing.
05 – Master Passion Greed: Now we’re talking about heavy stuff! If you followed the whole thing that happened between band and Tarja/husband-manager, you must know Nightwish reasons. Then, if Bye Bye Beautiful is more about the thing with Tarja, Master Passion Greed would be about the thing with the second half of the couple. As it should be, this is the heavier track of the album and the whole career of the band so far. By it’s lack of female vocals (only Marco sings this one!) sometimes it’s hard to believe this is Nightwish (in a good way, of course), due to the violent riffs, drumming, bass-playing and so on. The orchestra goes really intense on this track, especially at the scary heavy end. This is for sure an born-classic tune and will kick some buns live!
06 – Eva: Don’t cheat yourself with Eva. Despite its beauty, it’s great to introduce the new singer but doesn’t have anything in common with the content of Dark Passion Play. It’s the traditional ballad, short, easy going and listening kind of song and that’s it. Of course it’s a good ballad but doesn’t represent the album itself.
07 – Sahara: After the ballad, this is an impressive track. Sahara stands out especially because the different passages and the fantastic choir. It’s that kind of music that changes all the time: starts fast, then have some mid-tempo moments, heavy stuff, one moment that reminds us Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers etc. And all that with a powerful chorus that makes you want to sing along! One of the best songs of the entire album, for sure.
08 – Whoever Brings The Night: And the small giant Emppu puts his mark on a Nightwish album. For the first time signing an entire track, Emppu brought to Dark Passion Play what we can call a typical guitarist song. But, you’re dead wrong if you think this is about virtuosi-stuff and never ending solos. I’m talking about riffing! He brought a bunch of nice guitar riffs and now, with some different vocal lines from Anette, we have a great song, with different parts too. For a little taste of this one, you should check Marco recording his bass lines at the band’s official Video Blog. Remember that heavy riffing where Marco plays bass on? That’s Whoever Brings the Night.
09 – For The Heart I Once Had: This song will clear up lots of people that doubts about Annete’s vocal range. Starting with a lead with guitar and piano, the song grows with soft melodies and a VERY high chorus. Based on the way that the chorus is sung, one could say there isn’t a better name for this track.
10 – The Islander: The bassist and vocalist Marco Hietala signs this acoustic track. And you can see his touch here, if you know a little bit oh his great work with Tarot, his other band for more than 20 years. However, instead of the sci-fi influence, The Islander has a celtic sonority, with an amazing Irish touch in the way he sings. In the chorus we can hear a nice combination between Marco and Anette, who makes the second voice. An acoustic moment in the stage, with those high bar chairs, would be fantastic to this song!
11 – Last Of The Wilds: If you already had some moments of fun with friends around a bonfire, or if you can at least picture that situation, here’s the new soundtrack for that kind of thing. Last Of The Wilds is basically that, a happy instrumental song, with lots of pipes, guitars, flutes, kanteles (finnish instrument) and all that. The typical happy song that will make your old relatives to dance around and spend the rest of the weekend ashamed about it. Amazing tune!
12 – 7 Days To The Wolves: As usually happens with Nightwish, we can expect special tracks in the end of the album. 7 Days To The Wolves is just one step far from the end of Dark Passion Play, and brings the bassist Marco Hietala singing the lead vocals in the chorus while Anette shows us an aggressive side of her voice sometimes. The curious fact here is that the keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen was inspired by Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” to compose this song (not the lyrics).
13 – Meadows Of Heaven: Fortunately, Nightwish isn’t a band who fears to try new things. Meadows of Heaven is a unbelievable combination of heavy metal ballad and a gospel choir, with black music’s touch. The production is absolutely amazing and brings tears to a rock’s eye! With a huge orchestration in the end and the gospel choir, the song brings to the listener some vocal solos from the choir people, making this song a lot special and touching just a few seconds before Dark Passion Play ends. Judging for how many cold shivers I had during this song, it’s one of the best new Nightwish songs too, closing an awesome album in a very awesome way.
By Estevão Camargo
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