2 years ago Tarja Turunen was kicked out from Nightwish. I had not really followed the band nor the genre for many many years but old instincts still immediately told me that this was a major catastrophe - not just for Finnish metal and music industry but internationally as well. I felt something big move then but could not really tell what that was - other than the obvious grief of loss caused by the end of something great. But it wasn’t really just that. The whole setup was so weird. All those bizarre public letters by Tuomas and Tarja, such an outburst of emotion! The sheer energy and apparent authenticity of the events was quite unique. I have watched break-ups of crazy artists also earlier but this seemed out of all proportions.
This explosive separation remained a deep and complete Nightwishian mystery until this autumn when both Tarja and Nightwish published their new albums following the break-up. The meaning of those events two years ago are now unfolding: For both artists these events gave rise to remarkable creations of deep and beautiful metal art which I try to shortly cover in this post. And me … I was brought back to metal after many years, a truly enriching experience of recall. And for many of us … the riddles of the Nightwish drama are getting decoded at last - but luckily not demystified
Dark passion play of one brought the winter storm on another. Both robbed of their innocence. Tuomas’ songs: Beauty and the beast, Wishmaster, Dead boy’s poem, Ever dream, Bye bye beautiful, Eva, Poet and the pendulum. These very old and new songs and lyrics now open and lay plain his prophetic vision, his dark passion play, his kingdom, his twisted solitude, his willing pain. Tarja’s My Winter Storm is a touching yet overly anxious response to Tuomas’ wicked play and mind scenery which has come to possess her. Her songs: (The dead) Boy and the ghost and Ciaran’s well clearly manifest this hook. Sing for me, Poison, Damned and Divine, and Our great divide are pure love-hate. I walk alone, Lost Northern Star, Little phoenix, Oasis, and Calling grace reach for atonement. At first they rang very phony to me. Shriek of phoenix sounded rather like proud swan song. Over some listenings and getting a feel of the album as a whole the hollow prima donna feeling of these songs, however, vanished and was replaced by authenticity through incompleteness of a kind. I guess this is the winter storm. It is never gone.
Tarja’s Die alive and Tuomas’ Amaranth are most intensive and unyielding sources of positiveness and hope. Overwhelming love in living to die alive and never-fading Amaranth flower. These songs are the keys that finally turn the otherwise very heavy, even gloomy albums into balanced works of art and probably also reflect the human growth of their creators. So depressing were the propositions of the rest of the songs alone that without these two I would not dare to wish for another production from these people. But these two songs easily purify the rest. And Anette’s voice gets shivers on my back :-).
There is one more anecdote worth writing here: I never buy new records when they are published, nevertheless I went and bought My Winter Storm on an impulse. I guess exception makes the rule? This is how it happened: I had heard the ‘I walk alone’ track played and for some reason it just stuck. The song and its lyrics resonated strongly on me. Also, I could not get this 2 year old incident and these people out of my mind. And there I was accidentally after work on the date of MWS publication at Stockmann in Helsinki killing time and waiting my train home. There was an interview with Tarja Turunen taking place just right there. I went and bought the album and followed the interview, remotely interesting. Afterwards I went to pick up her autograph for my album and actually told her that this is the first ever new album I bought. She was amazed and immediately asked why did I buy it then. I was not able to tell. Now I know.