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In essence, Finland's Nightwish is the epitome of both beauty and beast, simultaneously. On one hand there is the angelic and ever enchanting voice of Tarja Turunen accompanied by some of the most majestic and sweeping keyboard arrangements known to man. On the other, there is an aggressive approach behind the majority of these flawless songs that command your attention. Amid the alluring atmosphere there is the pounding rhythm section coupled with the addition of Marco Hietala's rough edged vocal contributions. What more could you really ask for?
While From Wishes To Eternity was built with long running concert footage as the main focus and was supported by other odds and ends such as bonus interview segments and offstage antics, the DVD in question is quite a different affair. With the two plus hour documentary on the band acting as the centerpiece to the second in the Nightwish collection, End Of Innocence offers an in depth and insightful interview with founding member, keyboard player, and chief song writer Tuomas Holopainen. Joined by drummer Jukka Nevalinen and current Finntroll vocalist Tapio Wilska, Tuomas tells the story of the band the way only he can. From their humble beginnings in the small town of Kitee to the widely successful world tours of late, this video scrapbook showcases and array of candid memories in a genuine behind the scenes setting that is enthralling on multiple levels.
End Of Innocence is an unprecedented and revealing glimpse into the personalities of each of the five Nightwish collective, but more than anything else, it is a personal journey into Tuomas' being. The video biography exposes the pressures of living under the microscope and the hardships of trying to live up to the expectations that come with being a rock star. Though he has accomplished so much in such a short time, Tuomas seems to have trouble accepting that his hard work has somehow paid off. With every Nightwish record reaching platinum status in most countries throughout Europe and other parts of the world, it was difficult for me to understand how he could not be pleased with what he has done. Then it dawned on me that Tuomas is not unlike myself; a passionate perfectionist that is never truly satisfied with his art.
Spoken mostly in the band's native tongue, End Of Innocence plays much like a Japanese martial arts film with english subtitles across the bottom of the screen. At times this makes things a bit confusing and hard to follow along during key moments. This is a prime example of why God created patience and, of course, the reverse button. Surfacing every few minutes or so between the discussions are priceless clips of back stage pranks and high energy performances from all over the globe. These tidbits show how the Nightwish crew interacts as a band, and more importantly, as a family. Every person closely linked to them, whether it be a manager, producer, or roadie, all share a special bond that keeps them going day after day.
Aside from the amazing interview, End Of Innocence also has a bonus section packed with extras. First on the menu, you have the choice of two excellent videos... "End Of All Hope" from Century Child, and the Gary Moore classic "Over The Hills And Far Away" off of the EP of the same name. Next up there is some great live sets from the 2002 Summer Breeze Festival in Germany and Forth of July in Norway offering eleven tracks in total, including "Sleeping Sun", "Dead To The World", "Beauty And The Beast", and a version of WASP's "Wild Child". The production quality of the Norway gig is a bit muddy, however, Summer Breeze is shot as good as it gets. Finally we have the ever popular photo gallery which houses over a hundred pictures in every setting and scenario imaginable.
All in all, End Of Innocence far exceeded my expectations and really made me aware of some facts that I never knew about the band. Apart from the sometimes hard to follow subtitles, my only other complaint with the DVD is that there was very little engagement with Tarja, Emppu, and Marco. They are present in most situations, but rarely vocal. You see more activity from the Nightwish lighting tech than the three mentioned and I feel this takes away from the disc a bit. Understandably, End Of Innocence is essentially based around Tuomas' life story and I can respect the omissions.
Once, when Nightwish was just starting out, an unwise critic took it upon himself to declare the band as having 'no future or commercial potential'. End Of Innocence depicts perfectly how wrong he was and charts where the band has been, where they are, and where they are heading. I see only more great things from a band that positively deserves it.