I can’t believe we haven't written anything on Nightwish yet! Though the frontwoman has changed over the years, this Finnish symphonic metal band has always had a lady singing lead. (Tarja Turunen was the lead singer until 2005, when she was replaced by Swedish singer Anette Olzon.) The sound has changed a bit over the years; Anette’s voice is not as operatic as Tarja’s octave-defying vocals, and the music has grown more and more orchestral with each album. Nowadays, Nightwish’s songs are an epic experience, with imaginative fantasy-based lyrics, complex instrumental arrangements, and vocals that balance the rough quality of standard metal with choral accents and Olzon’s pipes, which alternate nicely between breathy and belt-y.
I’m not exactly the prototype for the typical metal fan, and I wasn’t when I discovered them at age 14, either. If I—with my blonde hair, unpierced anything, and pastel-colored clothing—went to a Nightwish concert, I'd stick out like a sore thumb among my fellow fans. But I do love their music—contrary to my original perception of metal, there's substance to this besides screaming, and the instrumentation is jaw-dropping. (I was excited to get my special edition of their album Dark Passion Play, because it came with a second disc containing orchestral versions of each track.)
I've only heard their new album, Imaginaerum, via Youtube (it doesn’t come out in America until December 27), everything I've seen is fabulous. The single “Storytime” displays the band’s usual ostentatious stylings; “Last Ride of the Day” showcases Anette’s excellent vocals; “Turn Loose the Mermaids” (what a great title!) is almost Celtic, as are several of Nightwish’s songs; and “Slow, Love, Slow” is as close to a metal jazz fusion as we’ll ever get. In a musical genre where women (both as performers and fans) are not the prime demographic, it’s a welcome change to see such badass, powerful female representation!