I must admit that I like the new approach of the new vocalist of Nightwish; Annette Olzon. She can do songs quite differently from Tarja’s more classical soprano style; while I appreciate Tarja’s style very much, and I do deem it the more superior, both technically, ideologically and idiomatically, it does get old, and Nightwish is a band of variance, of balances; between the (I’m talking putatives, here) overtly masculine Marco, and the more tender of sentiments. Between the strong keyboard parts and fairly prominent guitar work (although I must admit the guitars could be better…).
Some songs during the Tarja period were simply perfect; the song Nemo, for instance, which is about isolation, lonliness, works very well in terms of the keyboard parts, Tarja’s wonderful forte passages which are made to appear as if a mezzo forte; the modal tonality of the melodic line is a chilling counterpart to the keyboard part insofar as it seems to almost have an echo in one’s soul, indicative of the resonance one has as the Nemo (meaning loneliness) character, and the pumping bass (this is an instance where I say Marco’s vocals would have been unhelpful!). This is the perfect kind of song for a vocalist like Tarja…see video
Now, here’s a good song from the Annette period; Amaranth.
It’s poppy, but much more explicitly so than Nemo; it’s major key, quite unusual for a metal song; again, the keyboards form a wonderful prominence here, with the pumping bassline. This would be something Tarja would uncomfortably do, such as some of the tracks on Once were a bit of a strech for her vocal style. It’s the kind of thing that standard Nightwish fans like: that is; 8 year old girls and guys who don’t have girlfriends (that’s a famous Nightwish association about the fans…not my own view…although I do think it’s near to the truth!). What is important about the Nightwish balance is that it moves away from the conventional heavy metal-ness of a band such as Tarot by the female singer and orchestral parts; but also does the standardly metal songs, and some complete oddball songs (such as The Islander – an acoustic piece sung/written by Marco). The problem with Annette is when she tries to do the old songs…
In particular, I address the song “Higher than Hope”. This is one of those songs that Nightwish should cautiously play live. The song was about a Nightwish fan suffering from cancer (who later died), who found a lot of comfort in Nightwish songs; it has a serious gravitas, even not knowing that; the chorus is very powerful, both harmonically and in terms of the vocals. Like Ocean Soul; Higher than Hope is one of those Nightwish songs which are to be taken quite seriously insofar as it is a very individualistic and inspiring and important song for its fans.
Another point to make is that many say Annette shouldn’t be compared to Tarja, I do resist this as much as possible; but if you do one of the older songs of the Tarja period, you don’t avoid comparison, you invite it. Annette’s voice is significantly weaker in terms of dynamics to Tarja, so often, there is a duet with Marco to support her voice. For this song, it doesn’t work; this is a perfect Tarja song, and due to its seriousness it should not be pop-performed in the way that Annette tries to.
Here’s the original
Here’s the Annette version
Antisophie and Destre say I should do less philosophical posts, so here is my attempt!