I decided it was time to review this album that I initially forgot existed until now. It started when I joined a Nightwish Discord server (I had joined two actually after receiving some info from a kind member of the first one who told me they were glad I felt welcome but also warned me that the place was poorly moderated should I run into trouble with anyone there and suggested another server that was friendlier and a lot more organized)
I thought it over and decided the second server was a better place for me to be, even though I had already started chatting on the first. However, when I was still on the first server and admitted to the other Nightwish fans that I have a crush on Tuomas Holopainen (since I definitely knew I was not alone), one of them asked me if I had listened to The Life and Times of Scrooge. I didn’t answer at first and went to recall what that was, and discovered it was an album Tuomas released in 2014, inspired by his favourite character Scrooge McDuck from his childhood.
Aside from writing the music, Tuomas also played the keyboards/piano for the tracks, and another member of Nightwish: Troy was featured in the album playing pipes, whistles, and a bodhran.
The album also features several vocalists, including Tuomas’ wife Johanna Kurkela (she’s really pretty by the way). I gave this album a listen first on its own and shared that I liked it on the server before leaving for a more favourable one. Now, it’s time to dive back into it, and I’m so excited so let’s begin!
It starts with a narration to set the tone of the album with a beautiful melody. I recognize Troy’s contributions immediately. Alan’s narration is good and if that’s Johanna singing, she sounds amazing that it makes me want to check out the other band Tuomas has called Auri.
It makes me think about the rising sun as if I’m living in a little hut in an imaginary world and am leaving home for the first time to go on an adventure of a lifetime. If you can picture that along with me, then bravo. The moment this track began, I knew I was going to love this album, Tuomas never disappoints me and he certainly didn’t here! The moment I hear that piano towards the end my heart melts.
Into the West
When this song begins I think of mountains and the sun high in the sky, the peaks are coated with snow and down below is a great forest, the first steps of the journey starts here. As Johanna sings and Tuomas plays the piano I imagine myself walking down into that forest unafraid.
But when Mikko’s banjo kicks in, it’s like I’m running through the forest, excited to start my journey, I’m not running from someone or something, the woods are beautiful and there is no danger. I’m just feeling happy and free, excited to see what lies ahead. There are meadows, evergreen trees, and mushrooms, and I can see the mountains from one of the clearings.
This song is so uplifting for me, it’s like I’m lost in another world and that is exactly what I want this album to do. When it slows at the end, I feel like this track has a very folk feel to it and I never thought I would enjoy that, but I do.
Duel & Cloudscapes
I almost forgot about this one when I was adding the titles. Sounds like a storm is coming, I think of it like when I reach one of the meadows, at the foot of one of the mountain passes, thunder crashes above as the clouds roll in. Troy’s finest work right here. It’s like you don’t know how strong the storm is going to be and then as the drums begin, it starts to rain and you’re running for shelter into those mountains because the forest definitely isn’t safe during a thunderstorm with the risk of the lightning striking a tree.
Entering a pass into the mountains, I’m running faster as the rain turns into snowfall, but it isn’t too deep at first but rises fast. It’s all part of the journey it feels like I am on as I listen to this album. When it becomes quiet briefly, it’s like the storm has passed, and the snow is just falling steadily now and the little critters of the mountain are curious.
How do I describe this track, it goes from powerful to peaceful and back to the former again like the storm comes and goes through those mountains until it finally subsides for good towards the end.
I had high hopes for this one, when it began with such an eerie sound I was surprised at first but it started to exceed my expectations as it continued. It actually sounded like a warhorn.
I imagine at this point making camp on the mountain as everything is calm at night. Then the beautiful melody starts at the thirty-second mark, I picture the Northern lights in the sky, like I’m sitting outside a tent gazing at the aurora not ready to go to sleep just yet and the colours intensify.
This is the most ethereal track on the album and I love it, I don’t imagine much when I listen to it other than a beautiful night sky up in Lapland but that’s okay, even times to rest during a journey can be memorable.
Cold Heart of the Klondike
Beautiful at the beginning like the start of a new day when you listen to it. I like to imagine a heavy snowfall in the mountains when I hear this. I know what you’re thinking, I could easily just picture myself flying in this album, but that would be the easy way out.
This is where we get some different vocals and this is also the longest track on the album too. I don’t imagine much when I listen to it and that’s maybe because I don’t like it as much as its predecessors. Still, I don’t deny that it sounds beautiful.
The Last Sled
Ah the wonderful piano in this track, narration and singing, Tuomas, just take me away in a carriage through a winter wonderland when I listen to this! Maybe that’s what I’m looking for in my mind when I’m listening to this album from the beginning because I swear to God, the piano reigns supreme here!
So he finds me in the mountains and I climb into his carriage pulled by white steeds and we ride off together into the horizon. Yes I know, I’m a romantic, and deep down I still have a desire to be a princess. I’ve always wanted to write a short story (or roleplay it with my friend) where I’m Cinderella and Tuomas is Prince Charming; though my friend thinks Tuomas would be better suited for Beauty and the Beast, I don’t know, he looks like he could make a great Prince Charming too!
Johanna’s singing is also fantastic and it makes me want to sing her parts if I can memorize it. I think she’s a singer that needs some more appreciation compared to other Finnish singers I love, she might just be a new favourite for me. Another track with a lovely melody, what is this album doing to me? Tuomas, what are YOU doing to me?!
And cue the piano again! I always seem to picture a sunset when I hear this in the beginning like I’m watching it on a cliff in the mountains. Two minutes in, Troy starts to work his magic, giving this track a very folk feel to it.
I don’t know why but it reminds me so much of what I’ve heard on a Nightwish album, was it Last of the Wilds? It also makes me think of birds leaving the nest for the first time. For something about saying goodbye, it sounds very uplifting, but you know what they say, every door that closes, another opens. I’m not in love with this one but hey it’s still really good.
To Be Rich
It’s like Dreamtime all over again but it doesn’t have the same cosmic feel. That’s okay though because this track has something of its own that makes it special. The way its score and vocals tie together makes it sound like it’s about finding happiness in life, no matter what form it takes.
I’m imagining myself returning home after an adventure when I listen to it, happy to back in those familiar comforts and with each journey we take, we always return home wiser than before.
A Lifetime of Adventure
Then cue the sleigh bells into this track. I feel like this one tells a story as if someone is retelling the story of an adventure to their loved ones. It gets passed down to their children and theirs before it.
I imagine all sorts of things when I listen to it as I listen to Johanna sing, recalling all the things I pictured as I listened to this album a second time for the purpose of this review. Running through the forest, the storm, the mountains, the romantic ride in the carriage, all the way to the journey home. But what happened between the last two events? That’s something I would have to figure out myself. It could be fanfiction material or I could write it as a short story dream here or Wattpad.
This is a beautiful track overall and it also has an alternative version on this album which is decent but I don’t love it as much as this one, it’s also got a little guitar solo too. I thought this track would be a great closing to the album but nope, we got one more to go!
Go Slowly Now, Sands of Time
Last but not least, this one sounds very acoustic at the beginning and I like to imagine myself sitting next to a fireplace on a fantastic winter evening with a cup of hot chocolate. This time we have Alan on vocals alongside Johanna. Nothing like relaxing after an adventure am I right?
It’s a very humble track, it’s not something I would listen to every day, but it’s a great closure to the album’s concept before it goes the alternative version of the previous track.
So what are my final thoughts on this album? It’s absolutely amazing and if it sends my brain’s occipital cortex into overdrive then it’s a winner even if I don’t love every single track, even the ones I liked a little had something pleasant to offer!
My favourite tracks are:
Into the West
Duel & Cloudscapes
The Last Sled
To Be Rich
A Lifetime of Adventure (original version)
Well done Tuomas, you beautiful Metal Mozart, I love you.