Members: Tuomas Holopainen, Marco Hietala, Emppu Vuorinen, Jukka Nevalainen
Nightwish is a Finnish musical band formed in 1996 in the town of Kitee. Nightwish composes songs that are often classified as either symphonic metal or power metal; their musical style has also been described as a symphonic metal variant, called opera metal. Nevertheless, Nightwish is considered one of the main developers of the symphonic metal genre, which encompasses similar bands such as Epica, After Forever and Visions of Atlantis.
Although the band achieved prominence in their home country since the release of their first single, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the album Once (2004), which spawned Nightwish video clips shown on MTV in the USA for the first time, and inclusion of their music in U.S. movie soundtracks. Their biggest U.S. hit, Wish I Had an Angel made it onto 2 U.S. film soundtracks, as a way to promote their first North American tour (scheduled, but then cancelled due to conflicts with vocalist's solo career). They produced 3 more singles and music videos from this album, and a final one, Sleeping Sun, from a 2005 best-of compilation, Highest Hopes, prior to their vocalist's departure.
As of 2006, the band is searching for a replacement to vocalist Tarja Turunen, who had left at the end of 2005. A replacement for the soprano singer has not yet been found, but the four other musicians of the band plan to find one in the course of 2006, so that a new album can be recorded at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, and released later that year.
The idea to put together Nightwish was the brainchild of Tuomas Holopainen, conceived after spending a night around a campfire with friends. The band formed shortly after, in July 1996. Holopainen invited guitarist Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen, whom was a fairly new acquaintance, and vocalist Tarja Turunen to the project, due to the notoriety she was gaining around the school they attended, since her vocal abilities were considered above average.
Their style at the time was based on the experimentations of Holopainen with using keyboards, acoustic guitars and the operatic vocals of Tarja Turunen. The three musicians then recorded an acoustic demo-album from October to December of 1996. There were three songs on this demo: "Nightwish" (of which the band derived its name), "The Forever Moments" and "Eti?inen".
In early 1997, drummer Jukka Nevalainen joined the band; also, the acoustic guitar was replaced by an electric guitar. In April the band went into the studio in order to record seven songs, including an improved version of the demo-song "Eti?inen". These songs can be found on the limited edition of the album Angels Fall First.
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.
Angels Fall First was not critically received very well. allmusic 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.
December 1997 marked their first concert, which was played in their hometown. During the winter of 1997?98, the band performed only seven more times because Nevalainen and Vuorinen were fulfilling their obligatory military service and Turunen had not yet finished her studies.
In 1998 bassist Sami Vanska, an old friend of Holopainen, joined the band. After shooting a video clip for the song "The Carpenter", they released the follow-up to Angels Fall First Oceanborn. 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"). It reached number 5 on the Finnish album charts. The first single from that album Sacrament of Wilderness, went straight to number 1 on the Finnish single charts. (sample).
The second single to come out was Walking in the Air, a cover of Howard Blake's piece, part of The Snowman soundtrack.
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. Oceanborn was a certified gold in August.
In 2000, Nightwish participated in the Finnish qualification for the Eurovision song contest with the song "Sleepwalker". They finished the contest in second place. They won the public televoting, but the jury overruled (sample). In May they released the 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. Wishmaster was, despite long-awaited releases from Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi which happened simultaneously, declared album of the month in the German magazine Rock Hard. The only single from this album was Deep Silent Complete.
OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY/CENTURY CHILD 2001-2003
In 2001 Nightwish recorded a cover of Gary Moore's "Over the Hills and Far Away" together with a few new songs and a remake of an old one. This was released as the EP Over the Hills and Far Away. The record counted with guest performances by Tony Kakko (from the power metal band Sonata Arctica) and Tapio Wilska. They also released a VHS, DVD and CD with live material recorded in a show in Tampere, on the 30th of December, 2000. All of these were entitled From Wishes to Eternity. Shortly afterwards, Sami V?nsk? was asked to leave the band by Tuomas, and Marco Hietala (Tarot, ex-Sinergy) joined the band, effectively leaving Sinergy. The bassist would, apart from playing his instrument, also perform male vocals.
In 2002 Nightwish released Century Child, and the singles Ever Dream and Bless the Child. The main difference from previous albums is the use of a live orchestra from Finland on many songs, to get a more present feeling of classical music. 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 a second DVD, entitled End of Innocence that tells the story of the band in Holopainen and Nevalainen's words for 2 hours. The documentary also features bits of live concerts, exclusive footage etc. Tarja 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.
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 up to date (sample).
Once contains a full orchestra throughout 9 of the 11 songs on the album. Unlike Century Child, Nightwish decided to look for an orchestra outside the boundaries of Finland this time, choosing the London Session Orchestra, also used for recording the original soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 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 The Siren. Besides the commercial success, Once was also critically well-received, with many reviewers (such as Metalfan.nl [and RockReport.be 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. An honorary performance that showed the high acclaim the band has gained in the past couple of years was the opening ceremony of the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, held in Helsinki.
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. This was due to the fact that they felt that her husband Marcelo Cabuli and commercial interests had changed her attitude towards the band. Tuomas Holopainen gave the letter to Turunen after the band ended the concert. The letter was later published on the band's website for all to see.
The replacement for Tarja Turunen has not yet been announced. Holopainen has repeatedly stated in interviews that Nightwish's new singer will be announced in 2006. He said that she will have to be talented, charismatic and in possession of a great deal of self-esteem.
Meanwhile, many sources on the internet have already begun to speculate who Turunen's successor will be. On December 6, "Lady Angellyca" of the Spanish band Forever Slave issued a statement where she said that she was one of the strong candidates to fill the vacant role, but the band itself has put up a message at their website which claims that the media who spread rumours about a new singer should not be believed.
Turunen has responded to the incident, saying that her dismissal came entirely as a shock to her. She felt that the personal attacks on her husband were unwarranted, and playing the issue out to the public was "senselessly cruel". Turunen was not consulted or spoken to before this letter was given to her. She wrote a letter saying most of this to her fans and published it on her own website. She was also interviewed by various TV-stations, magazines and newspapers and stated her feelings towards the subject.
On another subject, the band has recently (as of March 17, 2006) added, on their website, an advertisement for all vocalists who are interested in auditioning as the new lead vocalist for Nightwish. To the surprise of some fans, they are not looking specifically for a classically trained singer, but are open to a variety of styles and backgrounds ("...all kinds of styles and voices, natural and trained, from rock and pop to classical, and all that you can find in between"). They go on to say that any potential candidate should be "...prepared to sing with a lot of dynamics and versatility. From loud and high to very sensitive stuff.", seemingly indicating that Nightwish will stay on track despite the departure of Turunen.
On September 15, the band posted a notice on their official website stating that the recording process for the new album had begun. The process is set to last around six months and the new album should be ready in the spring of 2007.
On September 27, 2006, the band updated their official web site to say that media sources in Finland have been spreading more rumours about the new lead singer. The notice also said that nothing should be believed unless posted on their official site.
According to their official website, the band entered the studio on September 15, 2006 to record their sixth full-length studio album. The process began with drum recordings, with guitar, bass and demo keyboards, followed by orchestral/choir recordings to follow. After those, the final synths and vocals will be recorded. The entire process is set to last around six months and the album should be available in spring 2007.
1997 - Angels Fall First
1998 - Oceanborn
2000 - Wishmaster
2002 - Century Child
2004 - Once
2000 - Wishmastour 2000
2004 - Tales from the Elvenpath
2005 - Highest Hopes
2005 - Bestwishes
2001 - From Wishes to Eternity
2003 - End of Innocence
2006 - End of an Era