NIGHTWISH – Imaginaerum

By Carl Begai

The long awaited Nightwish follow-up to Dark Passion Play from 2007, Imaginaerum, is a masterpiece. The greatest thing since the creation of fire. Grander the invention of the wheel. A tour de force that has pushed the power metal and classical music scenes to learn French and admit they have no clue what “bombastic” really means. A showcase of musical genius that has composer John Williams considering changing his last name to Holopainen. Better than half-drunk pre-marital sex. So awesome they had to make a movie about/for/with it. Blah blah fucking blah add nausea…

Yes indeed, the media hack hype machine has been puckering up and kissing ass ever since the album was made accessible to the press, likely upping the sales of Chapstick by 200%. Only thing is, Imaginaerum is a bloody masterpiece, particularly if you’re a Nightwish fan that’s been able to see beyond Tarja Turunen’s cleavage.

If not for potential accusations of plagiarism, Nightwish could have gotten away with calling the album Tuomas In Wonderland. Spawned and nurtured by keyboardist / songwriter / founder Tuomas Holopainen, Imaginaerum is his full blown journey into the depths of fairytales and fantasy, something that’s been a here-and-there part of the Nightwish formula from album to album since the band’s inception. It earns the title “epic” before things are even a third done, the majority of the songs being a clear cut and necessary step up and away from Dark Passion Play on almost every count. Just how far one is willing to be yanked down Holopainen’s personal rabbit hole depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in a new, insanely ambitious, and occasionally bizarre take on a traditional soundtrack. Continue reading NIGHTWISH – Imaginaerum

BW&BK Interview: NIGHTWISH Bassist / Vocalist MARCO HIETALA – From Iron To Imaginarium

By Carl Begai

Marco Hietala is best known these days as the bassist / male vocalist for Finnish bashers Nightwish, but since hooking up with the band in 2002 fans have learned of his other outfit, veteran straight-ahead metalheads, Tarot. In actual fact, he’s been hammering out albums and low-key tours with Tarot for over 25 years, a truth the metal world has learned more and more about since their international release of the Crows Fly Black album in 2006. A breakthrough that can be credited to his Nightwish day job. Following is an excerpt from my recent interview with Hietala about Tarot’s new and remagined album, Spell Of Iron MMXI, and the forthcoming Nighwish epic, Imaginarium…

With one new album under his belt for 2011 (Spell Of Iron MMXI), Hietala’s focus is now on Imaginarium. Still a work in progress, it’s not expected to surface until early 2012.

“I’ve recorded all my stuff,” he reveals. “All my vocals and basses are done, a couple acoustic guitar things. And the mixes for those parts have also been done, already.”

With regards to the extended wait for Imaginarium, Hietala admits he’s in the same boat as the fans and is chomping at the bit to hear the final product.

“That sucks for me personally,” he says of the wait, “but the reason for that is we still have the movie in the works as well, and it’s going to take some time for it to be finished. The album and the movie go pretty much hand-in-hand because the whole movie is built around the music of the album. We decided to push the release so that we can put them out together.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: NIGHTWISH Bassist / Vocalist MARCO HIETALA – From Iron To Imaginarium

LIV KRISTINE – When Velvet Darkness Falls

By Carl Begai

Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull and I recently sat down to discuss her new solo album, Skintight. Towards the end of the interview (found here) I asked her for her thoughts on her former band Theatre Of Tragedy’s decision to call it quits after 17 years. Liv was an integral part of the band, and it’s fair to say they were one of the building blocks in my metal education. It’s sad to see them go, and I’m not the only one that thinks so.

“I received an invitation from the guys in Theatre Of Tragedy asking me if I wanted to make a guest appearance in Stavanger at their final gig on October 2nd,” Liv reveals. “I’ll be in the States on tour so there’s no way I can do it, which is a pity. My mother is going, though, and I’m still in touch with Raymond (Rohonyi / vocals) and Lorentz (Aspen / keyboards). We’ve talked about what happened between us and, well, it is what it is. You can’t change the past.”

“Without Theatre Of Tragedy I wouldn’t be where I am today. I learned a lot during those years. I founded the band with Raymond when I was 18 and we went on tour when I was 19. It was crazy, and what we learned and experienced in those years was fantastic. Continue reading LIV KRISTINE – When Velvet Darkness Falls