Dark Passion Play

In the end of 2005, at the height of their popularity, Nightwish kicked their iconic lead-singer, Tarja Turunen, from the band. Many people, including me, thought that it would be the end of them. It seemed obvious that the band could not recoved from the ordeal, even though they put on a brave face. They started looking for a new lead-singer, but it seemed like re-arranging deck-chairs on the Titanic.

Fast forward over 1.5 years: Nightwish just released their new album, featuring their new vocalist: Anette Olzon. The album has been talked and talked about for months before the release. This is the album that will tell whether the band has future after Tarja.

If this album is of any indication, Nightwish will be with us for next 20 years. They deliver. They really do. "Dark Passion Play" is a truly great album by any measure.

The album starts with a 14-minute tour de force: "The Poet and the Pendulum". It seems that the intention was to start the album with a bang, and they succeeded. Although it must be said that it's quite risky to subject the listener to a 14-minute song right at the beginning. Luckily the song is one of the finest songs Tuomas Holopainen has created, if not the finest. While being a very personal song, it also seems that the band wants to tell the nay-sayers that "No, you are wrong". The opening-track is an indication that the band has confidence in themselves and on their new record.

The album is also used as a tool to work on the splitting of ways between the band and Tarja Turunen. "Bye bye beautiful" is aimed squarely at Tarja, although the song is not really malicious. It would be extraordinary if the split between the band and Tarja would not show on the album, and "Bye bye beautiful is one of the two places it shows in". The other is "Master passion greed", which is targetted at Tarjas husband Marcelo Cabulli. The band blames Marcelo for the split, and it shows:

Who the hell are you to tell me
What to do, why to do, why bother
Leech in a mask of virtue
Such waste, to ever think of you again.


Not only are the lyrics aggressive, the whole soundscape of the song is very menacing. It's propably the most aggressive and dark song Nightwish has ever released. It's also interesting that Anette does not appear in this song (apart from some backing vocals), it's performed by Marco Hietala. It seems like they want to keep Anette outside of their fight with Cabulli.

All in all, those tracks are very effective tools of underlining the fact that the music is not created by "a band", but by real people why just happen to form a group called "Nightwish". Bands do not have feelings, people behind bands do.

What about the album as a whole? The songs cover wide area stylistically and thematically. But it still doesn't seem confusing or undetermined. There is a method behind the madness. Well, "Last of the Wilds" seems like an odd song, since it's instrumental. It's a good song, but it's a strange song amidts songs with strong vocal themes. Well, I got the double-CD version which contains instrumental version of the entire album, so it might sound perfect on that version.


dr witmol said...

I must congratulate you on your analogy "seemed like re-arranging deck-chairs on the Titanic". That's gold.

I've not heard much Nightwish - they don't get mainstream airplay over here but the instrumental version sounds like the kind of thing I'd listen to.

Janne said...

I'd like to say that I came up with that analogy by myself, but I didn't. I heard it somewhere else.

No Nightwish over there huh? Well, if you like Apocalyptica, you just _might_ like them as well. Have to see what we can come up with...