Thrash Hits

October 2nd, 2012

Why Nightwish spliting with Anette Olzon is a bigger deal than you think

​Thrash Hits’ ​Tom Dare​ loves Nightwish. He’s barely put his memories of the Tarja Turunen era behind him and they’ve gone and shed Anette Olzon. Here’s what he made of it after he stopped crying.

Nightwish promo photo 2011 Anette Olzon Thrash Hits

Nightwish have parted ways with singer Anette Olzon. While parts of the the UK is sniggering in adolescent fashion at the very mention of these Finns, and large swathes America is looking over the water, scratching it’s head and asking “Who?”, in Europe, this is bloody huge news.

Nightwish are one of the few metal bands to come along in the last 15-odd years that sell huge numbers of records in the mass downloading era. Even Dark Passion Play, generally regarded as one of their weaker records, sold hundreds of thousands of copies on the continent. And it comes at the worst possible time – they’ve only just become truly stable after the last time they split with their singer.

The seven years since the acrimonious departure of their former lead vocalist, Tarja Turunen, haven’t exactly been a smooth ride. It took Nightwish the best part of two years to find a replacement, meaning the band’s sixth album had to be written without knowing the specific strengths and weaknesses of the lady needing to sing it.

​The Tarja tune:

Tarja’s operatic warbling was undoubtedly a key component of what made the band so distinctive on their emergence, however much that shtick has been ripped off since. By the time their fifth album, Once, rolled around though, it was obvious composing for that style was limiting them. Tuomas Holopainen (who founded the band and has written the majority of their music) seemed to be straining at his creative boundaries, but evolving a band with such a specific vocal style is not easy.

Her departure freed some of those shackles, but not knowing the range or character of her replacement imposed limits of a different kind. The result was that parts of Dark Passion Play was predictable pop metal, and had a limited replay factor. The tunes were sizeable, but much of it was a little stock and unadventurous. There were, however, vastly more ambitious tracks – most prominently ‘The Poet And The Pendulum‘, a sprawling 14-minute odyssey where Tuomas once more laid his emotions bare while hiding them in the theatricality of the music, is arguably the finest song he’s ever written – and showed glimpses of entirely unexplored territory the band could master.

Following a mammoth, gruelling two-year world tour, the band seemed to be finding their feet once more. Tarja’s replacement, Anette Olzon, was getting stronger as far as the band’s live performances went, her confidence seemingly growing in the role, and the band weren’t having to trot out old Wishmaster favourites in order to please the crowd. Then, after an elephantine gestation period, Imaginaerum happened.

​The comeback video (with 60 million views):

All of a sudden, the suggestions of a Tarja reunion (something the band seemed to get asked about every time they went out for some milk, especially given her superstar status in their homeland) seemed daft. A much more varied, beautifully constructive work with fluctuating pace, tone and intensity, that ran from gigantic, chorus-focused bombast to gentle contemplation to smooth jazz (nice) showed that Nightwish had far more options open to them with Anette – and that she could nail the variety of parts she was being asked to perform. The subsequent live shows have been great and, finally, after seven years, the band had reached a stable platform from which they could launch into a bright future.

Evening putting aside the bloody great tour they’ve now got to do without Anette, purely because we’ve no real idea how stand-in Floor Jansen (formerly of the now-defunct After Forever) will fill her shoes, the questions going forward are numerous. Perhaps most strikingly, Imaginaerum has a movie to accompany it coming out next month – a film that Nightwish have pumped €1million of their own money into making (and even if you’re Metallica, that’s a fuckton of money). Now the singer – who apparently features in the film itself – who recorded the tracks the film tells the story of isn’t there.

But that’s not so much what I am concerned about as a fan. I’d dealt with my feelings over Tarja’s departure to the point I barely listen to those old records anymore – what they’ve done since, even if it’s only two albums, has become Nightwish in my head. The last album and the highlights of the one before were so bastard good, I no longer miss the “good old days”.

​Where they nailed it:

My worry isn’t that Nightwish won’t be able to find a singer good enough. They know what they’re doing, and a band that size won’t struggle for more-than-qualified applicants. I’d expect half the adult female population of Finland to have already emailed their CV to Nightwish’s management along with a links to their YouTube performances. My worry is that it’s another period of instability and uncertainty, that it’ll take another two-year search to find a successor, that the next album will have to be a little compositionally restrained while they sort things out – and, inevitably, that if lightning can strike twice, that it could strike a third time.

 

Bands

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/Colinholio Colin James Salt

    meh

  • Jabba

    Epica has been making this band look absolutely ridiculous ever since Tarja left. If I was Nightwish I’d be throwing all kinds of money at Simone Simmons…the last few Epica albums haven’t been particularly dazzling anyway, despite being a much better band

    • Within Nadun Temptation

      Oh.. Epica sucks after The Divine Conspiracy.. They are trying to be more Symphonic-melodic death than being good old Epica… :P

    • Goldfish

      Some time ago, Simone Simons revealed in an interview that she was good friends with Tuomas, Tarja, and everyone else in Nightwish during its first era. When asked if it was true that Tuomas had asked her to replace Tarja, Simone said that he did not, however she would have declined if he had for two major reasons. One, she wished to remain a neutral friend to both parties after the split. Two, she did not want to be the recipient of harsh criticism from fans who were disappointed that she was not Tarja. Given how Anette was bullied, I think Simone was very wise to remain with Epica.

      • Biggle Piggle

        Epica fans would not have been very happy either.

  • Nan

    Im actually very excited. In my opinion Floor is the best female metal singer out there (yes even better than Tarja) and I always had a secret hope they’d do a co-op of some form. Now desperately trying to find a cheap flight to see this concert!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lucas-Nascimento/1476076677 Lucas Nascimento

      Tarja is better than Floor. My oppinion.

      • Jessica S.

        Tarja sounded so awful covering ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. It’s like she was trying to turn Kurt Cobain into opera…Floor’s the type to better cover a song like that. And this is the style that Nightwish is head towards; Tuomas no longer wants the whole ‘opera metal’ thing back.

      • tAllyssa Cinquina

        Technically Tarja is the better singer of the three, but as much as I love her she is more limited the Floor. Floor can break away from the classical vocals and be heavier, Tarja has never been very good at that.

    • Within Nadun Temptation

      Hell Yeah….!!! even better than Tarja… Best match for NW. I really wish Nightwish make her their permanent vocalist.

      • Music-Freak

        I’m hoping that Floor will be permanent. Although it’s a bigger responsibilities for her, since she’s also with ReVamp. But I wish all the best for the band! m/

  • nightfish enthusiast

    the only good thing about nightwish is that they have a boat called nightfish

  • http://www.facebook.com/eyesonu91 Keith Thumb Tobin

    I’l see ya later son

  • RadioGuy

    Given that I just watched Nightwish tear the Ogden up with two backup vocalists replacing Anette onstage (lyric sheets in hand,) I’m not worried about the band. That Ogden show was a triumph over adversity in the best “the show must go on” tradition. We got a great, interactive show that, as disappointed as I was when they announced the news before the show, ended up being one of those concert moments you will always remember. We all left feeling like we lucked out in being at that particular show.

    Anette was wrong, though I can understand her disappointment when she heard the rest of the band going on and on about it. Still, there’s really no excuse as a professional musician for suggesting that they cancel the show once the crowd voted that they carry on. At the end of the show, Troy, who had completely torn the place up playing the entire last half of the show on the pipes, said, “Thank you. You’ve taught us something tonight.”

    I’m guessing that was that we support the BAND, not necessarily it’s current members, which may have made a decision they’d had nagging at the backs of their minds (or not) easier.

  • gressa

    I was waiting for an interesting, profound analysis, judging by the title of your article. I could have saved my time if I knew this was only going to be a fan rant.

  • http://twitter.com/TheMetalPigeon The Metal Pigeon

    I’m not so sure about another period of instability, certainly not a year to two year long vocalist search. I think that this time Nightwish will know exactly what they need and want in a new vocalist and thats primarily someone who can deliver the goods vocally for both eras of the band, handle the rigors of the touring lifestyle, and be a teamplayer. They’re already on the right path having Floor Jansen onboard as the replacement vocalist for the upcoming shows.

    I give my take on this whole situation here if you’re interested: http://t.co/7fax4Pjr

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lucas-Nascimento/1476076677 Lucas Nascimento

    You just stopped listening to the old songs? How can someone prefer this new Anette’s crap instead of the real music Nightwish made when Tarja was the singer. Im not a crazy fan of Tarja but Nightwish has terribly fallen in quality since Anette Olzon appeared. I hope they find a real good singer this time. No more Anette, please!

    • Music-Freak

      It’s okay that you don’t like Anette, but her time with NW are even great! Her contribution to the band has been underrated just because she’s not Tarja.

      Well she doesn’t need to be Tarja anyway. She has her own style and that’s why she has been chosen by the band.

  • http://twitter.com/erbo Erbo

    Like RadioGuy, I was also at the Denver show, and Elize and Alissa did great work filling in for Anette up there. And we in the audience were singing the songs out there, too. The result was something very much like a religious experience.

    Any future lead singer for Nightwish will have to keep one thing very clear in her head: SHE is not, and will not ever be, the center of the band. That honor belongs to Tuomas, and his music. The Denver show proved that the music has its own magic, no matter who’s singing it. (That said, I’ve heard some of Floor’s performances, and she’s VERY, VERY good. On the pre-DPP material, it’s almost like Tarja never left. She doesn’t “belt out” the newer material the way Anette did, but, for instance, her rendition of “Amaranth” is very sweet.)

  • ashford

    Nightwish has just proved Tarja right all along, they didnt care about either singer and were just using them for their own gain,
    horrible people indeed.

  • Within Nadun Temptation

    Floor is the best match for Nightwish. She is even better than Tarja.
    I really wish Nightwish make her their permanent vocalist.

    • Biggle Piggle

      She isn’t better than Tarja, when I listened to her for the first time a few minutes ago on Youtube, I wasn’t expecting her to be as good as she was though.

  • jjoro

    Nightwish with TARJA – FOREVER , Nightwish with Anette – NEVER

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.steuben Kyle Steuben

    I’m gonna say this as a Nightwish fan who discovered the band in 2007-ish, thereby being exposed to mixed music done by both Anette and Tarja and had no preconception for either one of them, or even their names or those of the other band members or even that the band had changed singers at some point. To me, Tarja’s voice just sounded unusual for the band. I agree that the music seemed to bend over to be able to match with the operatic style Tarja was known for. Granted, there was nothing wrong with that style, but it was just exhausted to death and just didn’t fit in a lot of their songs. And any time they tried a different song style and/or Tarja had to sing more…normally, the result was just jarring. Her opera thing would either drag the song down, any non-opera sounded okay sometimes but often sub-par, or the song would cater to her singing style and the songs would get repetitive as a result. Not to say I don’t like any songs with Tarja in them; Ghost Love Score was epic, but that’s jsut the diamond in the rough for me. I would hear songs like Escapist and Poet and the Pendulum and they made me wonder why the music suddenly got better. One quick look at years released and a wiki article later, and it all made sense. I can listen to Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum front to back over and over agian, maybe with some older stuff in between, but when I try playing a full run of Once, I find myself skipping to the good songs. Anette could absolutely take off with all the things that Tarja was okay at at best. There was a connection between her and the music that lacked in Tarja’s time. I never thought that Tarja, in and of herself, was a bad singer, but she and Nightwish just didn’t fit. With Anette at the front, they were finally free, (even Anette’s singing evokes more freedom than Tarja’s,) and it’s that part of the band that I’ve always loved. One thing sacrificed was that Tarja’s warble couldn’t be pulled off by Anette, or at least none of the songs called for it, and that was something they seemed to leave behind them. I love their new songs, but I think it’d be cool to see them do a song in their old style and show how they’ve gotten better. Overall, Tarja had that one cool trick that either did or didn’t work, and anything else she did was done just as well or better by Anette. I’ve gone back and compared eras and now find that Anette’s singing just flies with the music while Tarja’s just seems subdued; it sounds like she tries just hard enough while not really caring about the song itself (hell, Tuomas even wrote how she did that into one of their songs, come to think of it). I can’t say whether she cared or not, but that’s the amount of passion she put (or didn’t put) into the music. With Anette, the style was finally comfortably set, and from there they were able to do better and do more than ever before. It’s too bad she’s gone now on such a sad note, but at least this is nothing like the bitterness Tarja left in the wake of her departure. I don’t know anything about this new Floor person, but I’ll keep my hopes up.

  • valar84

    Dark Passion Play is “predictable pop metal” and has “a limited replay factor”? What album are you listening to?! I had a few albums from Nightwish before they broke up with Tarja and found them a bit meh. Dark Passion Play blew me away. If they needed Tarja to leave to write it, then they’re much better off without her than with her.

    Dark Passion Play is one of the best metal albums I’ve listened to, much better than anything Nightwish produced before. Imaginaerum is pretty good too, and maybe in time it will grow on me and I will regard it as the better album, but for now Dark Passion Play is on top.

  • random dude

    This was a good read. I find it sad that such a great band has come to bear so much baggage, not that I won’t continue being a fan of their music. The band just has too much talent. That said, I will miss Annette as I did Tarja.

  • yeti

    crap article indeed

  • http://twitter.com/fajarjoemalik Joe Freak

    too Bad . . . . pity for Nightwish Vocalist , they dump ..

  • Jennifer

    The problem that Nightwish has with keeping singers is that at some point those singers want to have families. As a female this usually entails taking a certain amount of time off for each child. I don’t doubt that the split between Anette and Nightwish was influenced by her pregnancy.

  • Lisanne

    I was waiting for Anette to get kicked out, I hated her sound and don’t agree at all with you about how she made Nightwish more varied. I think Anette completely burned most of the songs down. She was the ONLY reason I stopped listening to Nightwish. I’ve seen her live and it sucked the big one. She just could not fill Tarja’s shoes,. At all. Floor shows her (and sometimes even Tarja!) how it should have been done. She suits Nightwish even better then I would have imagined.

  • Korpze

    I like a number of bands. They ALL have different singers. Each have their own style, and yet I do not compare them. Why the Hell should I? The same goes for a band that has more than one singer. It is time people stopped pidgeonholing each singer and whining over who is best. They are ALL good. Nightwish chose Anette. Both singers were good enough for the band. Are you now going to argue with the band that you know better than them. Obviously you do not like the band if you do not like the singer so why are you still here. Go and listen to something else. Better still, start a band up yourselves if you are so much better than Anette/Tarja. Then let us decide. Or have you not got the bottle? Yes. I thought so.

  • Meredith

    I studied opera personally, I’m a soprano, and I’m also a keyboard player, so what can I say I just fell in love with the old era Nightwish. There are a LOT of different operatic soprano voices you know, it’s not just “opera” – Tarja had what I consider to be the most beautiful kind of operatic voice. Because of that I feel she was an irreplaceable instrument. Anette’s voice was just the kind of voice I don’t care for, but I know I’m in the minority, that most mainstream listeners would prefer it. I like some of the studio stuff they put out with Anette nonetheless. And I love Marco in Tarot. They will always make good music. I’ll always feel sad for Tarja’s departure though. Her era with NW to me contains some of the best recordings that has been brought to humanity in a very, VERY long time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.bodenham Peter Bodenham

    the last 2 albums from nightwish have been very average at best, so not really to bothered by the news.

  • BubusJogis

    I’ve just seen the Helsinki show. I love Nightwish, still I haven’t been to many of their shows, perhaps only 3. The guys are talented no doubt about that, but on stage they were excruciatingly boring. It’s amazing they can’t even tell a joke in Finnish. During the very same Tuska festival I’ve seen less popular bands (Hateform) engage an audience ten times better.

    Special effects, fire, fireworks were nice. If you don’t talk to the audience and go through show with don’t-give-a-shit expression on your face as Tuomas did this time, you need all the tricks you can buy.

    It was Floor who managed to engage the audience and make it laugh. It also felt like she was on the stage alone. That’s the main reason I hope she stays.

    I have to disagree with Erbo: making someone the center of the band – and other member(s) disposable, hirable shit, honored to work for you etc etc – eventually causes people envolved going their own ways.

    Somehow I tend to gravitate towards bands who are united and care for their members equally.

  • Bswift

    Welll…. this article proved to be nonsense, they just deicded to stick with Floor and they have a new live dvd out next month where she proves she can sing and rock it with the best of them. I think they’ve come out of this dog muck of a situation smelling of roses once again haha.

  • Alex

    Thank God Simone said no. Though it may not be her fault, as I do not confess to know who writes their songs, but her lyrics leave me wanting something… more in depth. Her voice.. sounds like Madonna if she ditched the pop keyboards for a metal band. The music itself, doesn’t hit half as hard as Nightwish’s earlier albums did, Sorry to disagree, but nothing about this band is comparable to the band in question, save the fact that we’re dealing with metal and melody..

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