books, Music and Bands

Once Upon A Nightwish – The Early Years

Another book down. This one was an early Christmas gift last year and before I read this I felt like, I have loved Nightwish for years but there is so little I know about them. Maybe it’s time to learn more, and this book tells the story of the band’s formation and era with their original vocalist Tarja Turunen.

Anyone who knows Nightwish on the surface may think they’re a popular Finnish band known for mixing metal with classical elements and things you’d hear in a movie or video game soundtrack. It didn’t take long for them to grow into the success they have become. It makes me think why didn’t other bands I love from Europe do what Nightwish did to succeed in other countries? Money issues? Or maybe they just didn’t have the right people to market them or the right audience?

No matter I couldn’t put this one down. The prologue starts with the Hartwall Arena show and ends with an open letter to Tarja about her dismissal and already I began to wonder what became of her to leave. Then I got into the very beginning of how Nightwish was born.

I think the parts I enjoyed the most in this book was first learning about each of the original band members before Nightwish was formed. Reading about Tuomas Holopainen’s childhood was so heartfelt and adorable, I imagined him taking his piano lessons growing up, his love for Disney and his eventual introduction to metal. From all that inspiration came his desire to start creating his own material and when he mentions all those times in the book that he is best at expressing himself through writing music, I feel like the same can be said for me by writing on this blog. He’s very introverted but is a man of honesty and I think that’s what made me love him other than how attractive he is!

Emppu’s story was also intriguing and I liked the motto he went to live by when he joined Nightwish and part of me already figured that Tarja’s childhood consisted of her being the center of attention!

I also enjoyed reading about the writing and recording of each album and Walking In The Air was a song that I had completely forgotten about because when I first saw The Snowman as a kid, I only heard an instrumental version of that song during that particular scene. I never realized how dedicated Tuomas was to making sure the songs turned out with complete sincerity. Creek Mary’s Blood for instance, I like how he managed to get in contact with someone who could play a Native American sound for the song.

The EP Over The Hills and Far Away, it made me laugh on what the band had to say about it. Like both Tarja and Tuomas admitted that the one song that sucked on that EP was Away, but I personally love that song. It is so beautiful and authentic, its melody sucks me in every time, but I suppose I don’t need to share the same favorites as the band members themselves.

Alright, so I better talk about the controversy that this book reveals. While I enjoyed reading about the band’s formation, creation of every song, every tour, every music video, there was always something stirring behind the scenes. Eventually when Tarja met Marcelo, everything changed and all of a sudden she became more invested in her solo career and let him manage everything for her.

What annoyed me was that she became increasingly distant from the rest of the band, didn’t want to travel with them, tour for more than two weeks, or not tour in certain parts of the world. But it turns out it was all Marcelo influencing that. All of that, eventually led to the rest of the band making the final decision that she had to leave after their Hartwall Arena show.

I’m not taking sides here, or at least I’m trying not to. Tarja wanted to have more to her life than just Nightwish, she even mentioned in one chapter that whenever she came back from touring, she felt like her friends never asked how she was doing, they just wanted to know more about Nightwish. Maybe she was trying to balance that and her solo career, but it sounded like she was committed more to the latter and gave Marcelo too much power due to how naive she was.

But being in a band is a big commitment, you have to be able to get along with those you write, record and perform live with, and Tuomas, Emppu, Jukka, and Marco chose brotherhood and it seemed like Tarja was only focused on her own benefits and Marcelo only wanted what would make the most money. Don’t get me wrong, Tarja is a fantastic singer and I love a lot of Nightwish’s older work while she was still in the band. But I get a sense that if she didn’t let her husband take over everything, then maybe she would have stayed. I think he’s an asshole, there I said it.

The Nightwish fandom has been divided ever since her dismissal and you could say it divided again when Anette left too. In this particular case, I have no preference. All three singers are great (though I will admit it was the albums Anette sang on that got me into Nightwish in the first place) and I listen to everything Nightwish has released both the old and the new.

Nevertheless this was a great read and it’s been a long time since I last read a book related to a band I love, I should read these more often.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


2 thoughts on “Once Upon A Nightwish – The Early Years”

    1. Then you would get along with my best friend he is a huge fan. I miss Marco who also left for mental health reasons. But in this case taking care of yourself takes priority.


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