Nightwish’s population continues to grow.
Throughout the Finnish band’s eight-year career, they have found a loyal underground following for their unique power metal tinged, fast and furious music coupled to the large, operatic voice of professional opera singer Tarja Turunen.
But it wasn’t until their 2004 release, Once, that Nightwish began to step out of the underground and into the limelight. Featuring a far more balanced mixture of beauty and the beast, Tarja opted to temper her glass-shattering vocals for a more accessible output, while still maintaining the Nightwish sound fans had grown so gaga over. After winning multiple awards the world-over, as well as finally getting their own U.S. tour this past summer, it is obvious that Nightwish have arrived.
So, for someone who has only experienced Once, I find Century Media’s re-issue of Nightwish’s 2001 live performance, From Wishes to Eternity, to be a fascinating look at the band in perhaps a rawer, younger light. Previously only available in Europe, and featuring a 15-song live concert that covers the band’s back-catalog through 2000s Wishmaster, From Wishes to Eternity shows the band rocking out through pyrotechnics, grand standing and front woman Tarja’s rather bold, almost masculine fist-pumping delivery. Indeed, Tarja on stage reminds me of Xena: Warrior Princess: beautiful, but would just as soon tear your balls off as look at you.
Which makes other parts of this DVD all the more interesting. Off stage, Tarja Turunen isn’t like that at all. With very strong chin bones and assertive eyebrows, she looks intense and quite imposing on stage. Off stage, she’s a very sweet, beautiful 20-something year old girl trying to make it in a predominantly male musical world, and who more often than not makes herself unavailable when the rest of the band and crew proceed to get completely obliterated and do things like toss oranges at a mounted speaker, swim naked in Ibiza and have a crew member drink what I believe is urine for extra money (which Tarja does happen to look on in amusement at). If you have preconceived notions of Tarja’s chaste purity, you probably won’t lose them here.
One nagging point for me, besides the sound occasionally not syncing up to Tarja’s vocals on-stage, lies in the DVDs decidedly European feel – meaning, more often than not, whole chunks of dialogue, whether it be during the off stage antics section, or when the band is awarded discs for going Platinum in Finland for Wishmaster, are completely in Finnish. Tarja’s interview does give us subtitles, and Tuomas Holopainen does his in English for MTV Brazil, but I would have appreciated Century Media going the extra mile in this department.
Probably the least important piece of the DVD is the provided music videos, which include the unbelievably ghastly “The Carpenter” from their first album, Angels Fall First (1997). Cutting from some dude whittling wood to Tarja on a background that looks like it was done at one of those “Make My Own Video” kiosks at Six Flags, the rawness of the band in its earliest form is good for a brief laugh until you remember just how bad the video is and turn it off. The two live videos don’t matter, really, because you just watched 15 live videos as the body of the DVD, anyway.
Overall, I’m glad Century Media has seen a golden opportunity to cash-in on Nightwish’s growing popularity by releasing this four-year old DVD. Far from too little, too late, it’s a fun, semi-informative look at one of underground metal’s fastest rising stars.