Finnish band Nightwish practically defines the standard for European Goth-metal. The genre is a blend of power- and progressive-metal with angelic female vocals floating over the top, and Nightwish's approach to Goth is symphonic metal with operatic vocals. The sound is largely defined by the voice of Tarja Turunen – a 26-year-old Nordic beauty with a voice that belongs on an opera stage rather than in a heavy metal band.
From Wishes To Eternity – Live is a DVD of the band's 2001 tour to support their 2000 Wishmaster release, a live tour by one of the best of the Beauty And The Beast breed. The DVD begins backstage with a brief interview with Tarja commenting about the difficulty of being a woman in the men's world of heavy metal. The interview is in Finnish with English sub-titles. (Her English is very weak and heavily accented.)
The show starts with the lights going out, then slowly turning on again and Nightwish is on stage – and as the lights return they are into the instrumnental opener to "The Kinslayer". A pyrotechnic blast of light heralds and Tarja's vocals and the show is on. The music is unabashedly metal, and courtesy of the very dominant vocals, it takes concentration to hear the range and the skill of the underlying music. This isn't the heavy, grungy metal of so many goth-metal wannabes. There is a delicate touch to the music, it is varied and progressive and very well executed.
The standout track is "Swanheart" – a power ballad with a difference. It begins with just Tarja singing an almost purely operatic piece to the accompaniment of a soft piano while the audience sways in unison with zippos held aloft. The keys build up slowly and the guitars enter unobtrusively – played masterfully and not once interfering with the classical ambience. Very moving, absolutely beautiful.
You can usually gauge the real musicianship of an artist – or a band – by comparing their live performances with their studio work, and on this DVD Nightwish showcases their skills with confidence and flair. The on-stage performance is very polished, and as far as we can see there is little or no overdubbing. The camera angles and the filming are good although there is too much concentration on Tarja and not enough on the other band members. As always with music videos, there are far too few close-ups on the craft of the musicians. As proggies, we want to watch the guitarist's fingers and his picking style, watch the keyboardist's fingers, watch the drummer up close. Well – you won't find opportunity to do so here.
The band's tight connection with the audience is well documented Extras include two extra live tracks, two studio videos, interviews with Tarja and Tuomas, and a long segment documenting the band's appallingly bad and almost-amusing drunken off stage behaviour during the Wishmaster World Tour. There are also deleted scenes, a photo-gallery of some 50 pictures, and a discography. The total running time is 150 minutes. The DVD is recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1, and the sound quality is quite good for a live performance.
Recommended for the thinking progressive-metal heads among us.