without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
The first album that I heard of Nightwish was “Oceanborn”, sometime back in 2001 if I remember correctly, during my time as an Audiogalaxy pirate hungry for new music outside of my country. I had already been a consistent fan of established German power metal outfits like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, and Running Wild before I found out about the strong presence from other countries such as Finland, Sweden and Italy in the genre. What I heard when I first listened to that rather unique opus was a good deal of the same metallic influences, but a thing of beauty in the vocal performer, whose name I was baffled at upon trying to read out loud. I noticed an oddity however; the song list on the back only listed 10 tracks, while the CD indicator said there were 11, so as I completed listening to their remake of “Walking in the Air” I prepared myself for an unknown hidden work. What I heard changed my opinion about not only this band, but heavy metal in general.
“Sleeping Sun” is, in every possible way, the perfect love song. The atmosphere starts out restful and serene, as a simple string synthesizer chord intro gives way to a bell melody that sounds like some lullaby from some mystical plain beyond sight. The game of notes is so utterly simple yet charming that it immediately makes an open minded and open hearted metal practitioner forget about such things as riffs and thrash beats. There are guitars in here, but they sing more than they pound; sometimes in a woeful yet loving harmony, sometimes in a distant thundering power chord to bolster the low end of the arrangement at it’s climax. But at the center of the individually simplistic yet pluralistically complex melodies and counter-melodies is Tarja, singing in one and then two or three voices to the heart of the listener, melting away any coldness or despair until only contentment remains. Words like “beautiful” or “entrancing” don’t begin to describe this, the pinnacle of Tarja’s and Tuomas’ collaboration as painter and portrait subject, as minstrel and muse, as composer and performer,
There are 3 versions of this song on here; the first two were recorded in 2005, towards the end of the first era of Nightwish, before Tarja and Nightwish parted ways, from which the latter will likely not recover, and the last is the original 1998 version that I first encountered several years ago. The newer ones are elaborated a bit more at the beginning, a little bit slicker in production, and Tarja’s vocal performance is a tiny bit more centered. In addition, Marco Hietala elaborates the bass line a good deal more, and in a ballad format like this it is extremely noticeable. At the same time, thought the older one lacks the dimensions provided by a more modern production, it holds it’s own charm, most because it introduced me to a different side of myself, a side that I rarely show others because vulnerability is not an endearing trait in a guitar player who loves to make a big racket with his instrument.
The music video included on here can’t really do justice to the sounds that it accompanies, which is rarely the case when you have a song of this magnitude. The band is all there, wandering amongst a sea of deceased and dying soldiers, with the 4 men in the band flashing back to the battle itself with looks of sadness in their eyes. I had never connected the words or music of this song with this particular imagery, but many others may well have, and none of us are necessarily wrong. That is the universal nature of this song; it is a testament of any great song to be able to mean something very important to each individual listener, even if the place where they take that meaning is completely different than the next. Although I’m certain most of the male fans of Nightwish saw the same image of Tarja that I did in this video, an angel in white bringing light to a place of darkness, as she always does when ever she takes in air and breathes life into all the things that hear her voice.
This has always been and will always be my favorite Nightwish song, which will likely puzzle those who know me as I’m the kind of person who listens to speed metal constantly and criticizes anything that doesn’t showcase a strong technical command of one’s instrument. But in the end, it’s always those little things that make the difference, be it that first seemingly inconsequential gaze into your future lover’s eyes at some coincidental meeting, or a small group of notes forming a symmetrical melody over 3 or 4 chords that is accompanied by other small ideas until a big picture emerges that sweeps the listener away. If you liked the original version of this song, it is highly recommended that you get this, as the remake is a faithful yet surprisingly fresh new take on a timeless song.