Over the last couple of years I have read and heard many glowing reviews and recommendations concerning the Finnish metal band Nightwish and their latest concert DVD, End Of An Era. One of the local music venues in my area, Jaxx Concert Hall, who also refer to themselves as "DC's Euro Metal Home," even recently boasted about the band's October 2007 appearance there as being "the earliest advanced sell out in Jaxx history!" Not that Jaxx is a big club, but this was yet another thing to make me sit up and take notice.
Although I was not able to make that show at Jaxx, I was eventually able to score the End Of An Era DVD, when it was finally released in the U.S. at a reasonable, non-import, price. For the unfamiliar, Nightwish are essentially a goth-influenced, symphonic, speed metal band, fronted by a female opera singer. Yeah, you heard me right. Now, if you feel that these styles are all capable of blending together as smoothly as a nice Jack Daniels and Coke, then you will definitely eat this band up. On the other hand, if a female opera singer fronting a kick ass metal band confounds you as much as it does me, then Nightwish might not be your instant cup of tea.
Nightwish are not the only band to have adopted this intriguing new musical style. Epica, Within Temptation, After Forever, and a handful of other bands have all taken similar paths, so there is obviously a decent sized fan base for this unique opera-metal hybrid. As a student of the old schools of metal, rock, and prog, this new style has been very slow to win me over - but my mind still remains open to their temptation.
End Of An Era captures the band's last live performance with original vocalist Tarja Turunen. In a rather stunning turn of events after this very concert, Turunen was abruptly handed her walking papers by the other four members of the band. Word has it that she was quite the diva, and had become much more focused on her own career at the expense of the band. You can find copies of the "open letter" that they presented her all over the Internet, and then make up you own mind. The tour documentary is also very illuminating.
This performance was recorded in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd on October 21st, 2005 at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. This is a rather large arena that can hold up to about 15,000 people for concerts, and it looked jammed to the rafters for this show. The band tore through 18 songs from their eight year, five album (at the time) career, focusing mostly on material from their latest epic, 2004's Once.