In With The New

By Alexa Sedgwick

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Despite some apprehension regarding their sixth studio album release,
Nightwish has once again left our senses tingling.

Dark Passion Play[1] is the Finnish symphonic metal[2] band’s first
album with new lead vocalist Anette Olzon, who replaced the beloved
Tarja Turunen after she was given the boot in 2006.

Lead songwriter Tuomas Holopainen called it “the album that saved
[his] life”.

With large shoes filled, Olzon quickly impressed skeptical fans and
the album was awarded double platinum in Finland within just two days
of its release. It is their most successful work to date, having sold
over two million copies. The thirteen track album combines their new
heavier style with softer orchestral ballads, likely caused a shift in
their audience.

Olzon’s voice also brings a new feel to the group as she leans more in
the pop direction than Turunen, whose operatic vocals had become one
of Nightwish’s identifiable qualities. This is definitely one of their
most adventurous albums, and a surprising success given the strained
circumstances of its release.

While the opening track at fourteen minutes long was a brave step,
listeners aside from the underground lace-corseted die-hards, would
most likely give up on it halfway through. The full orchestra adds
incredible depth to “The Poet and the Pendulum” but there is only a
certain amount of time that one can sit content to be carried away to
a Narnia-inspired dream world, before being tempted to move on.

Easy-listening tracks like “Amaranth” and “The Escapist” cater for a
more commercial audience, being upbeat, while “Bye Bye Beautiful” and
“Master Passion Greed” demonstrate the heavier, darker tones of the
work. Allegedly, Holopainen wrote these about Turunen and her manager
after their scandalous dismissal[3], which is believable with the
aggressive lyrics.

Softer folky-type ballads on the album, such as “Last of the Wilds”
and “Meadows of Heaven” are enchanting, and would make fitting
background music on your next stroll through medieval woodlands. “Eva”
is the one track which fails to capture attention in its decided
dullness, albeit with a few pleasing riffs.

With so many different moods across the tracks, it is fairly
impossible to listen to them in one seventy-five minute sitting and be
completely satisfied, although they do complement one another fairly
well.

Under the circumstances, Dark Passion Play was a grand effort and
definitely worth waiting for. The difference in mood adds some spice,
while the ethereal imagery and instrumentals are in keeping with the
classic Nightwish style.

Links:
——
[1] http://www.nightwish.com/en/band/releases/details?id=27
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphonic_metal
[3] http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Open_Letter_To_Tarja_Turunen

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