It certainly has been another Monday, in the sense that it was the start of a new work week and full of all sorts of god-awful stress! Boo. Hiss. However, that’s all the more reason to sit back, curl up under some covers perhaps, and listen to some good music. It is indeed time again for Music Mondays! As the title might have indicated, tonight’s post is about Nightwish.
This is one of those situations where I don’t remember exactly who got me listening to an artist, but I know that it was immediate love of the music. There’s an overwhelming air of theatricality present in every song, making it feel less like listening to one track or another than it is like listening to a story. A story with amazing musical accompaniment that makes for great listening on, say, extended road trips when Red Bull isn’t an option.
I can pinpoint when I really started listening to Nightwish, which wasn’t quite after when I was given a sampling to listen to (a friend burned a CD and I forgot what artists were on it; womp womp). Back in college, a friend’s significant other (sort of?) at the time had brought their laptop over to my apartment. They were listening to “Amaranth”, one of the songs from Dark Passion Play, and I immediately decided I needed the entire CD. The reason I wasn’t able to identify Nightwish from when I’d previously heard them is they’d changed lead vocalists since then, with their previous one going off to pursue a solo career. I should probably look into that music some day, but that’s not really the focus here.
Quite a few of Nightwish’s songs listen like epic stories. A cursory glance at what music I have from their overall library reveals sixteen songs that are over five minutes in length. Three clock in over ten minutes. It sounds daunting, but the beauty of tracks like “The Poet and the Pendulum” is that not a second is wasted; they weave impressive, captivating narratives using lyrics, spoken word, and jaw-droppingly good instrumental music (I’d say face-melting guitar music, but even typing it in explanation makes me feel like a jackass).
Loathe as I am to say this, Nightwish’s albums are pretty hit-or-miss from track to track. All of the music is good, but a lot of it comes down to being in the right mood for it.
A quick-and-easy primer to get started with their music for the uninitiated: Dark Passion Play is a great starting point, as well as “Wish I Had an Angel” from Once. “Last Ride of the Day”, “Song of Myself”, and “Arabesque” are all strong tracks as well, all from Imaginaerum.
The only major complaint I have with Nightwish is that I’ve found it’s easy to grow bored of their music after a few listens, which is a common enough issue with any music…except it seems to be a boredom with a quicker onset here. Don’t let that discourage, however, as their music is well-worth checking out. Overall arbitrary rating of 3.75 out of 5 shiny whatchamacallits.
BONUS: For similarly awe-inspiring music, check out Apocalyptica. I can’t dedicate an entire post to them, sadly, as I only have “Path”, “Path, Vol. 2”, and “I Don’t Care”. From this sample, I can say at least a little about why they’re worth giving a listen (and why I need to actually remember to buy more of their music). Apocalyptica blends cello music with metal. Those are two things I would have never considered together in a million years, but one listen to “Path” or “Path, Vol. 2” should prove enough evidence that this is a blend that was meant to be. No rating, if only because I’ve not listened to nearly enough to form a stronger opinion.
It always surprises me when someone else says they like Nightwish – fun to find a fellow fan. Tarja was far more evocative and fascinating than the new girl, that’s for sure. My first experience was with “Sleeping Sun” which now I’ve listened to far too much. Although the new group doesn’t have the power house soprano it had I do love the music they are making. “The Islander” and “Kiss While your Lips are Still Red” are current favorites.
My usual music preferences tend to have more Alternative leanings, so I feel that may be why songs like Amaranth resonate with me more. Many of the tracks I listed by name have also earned favor as they were, at least in part, inspiration for some idea or another.
Based on what little I have heard with Tarja, I’ve got to agree she has one really powerful voice indeed. I’m curious to see how their new album, due out at the end of the month, will turn out.