Dark Passion Play
Dark Passion Play is the sixth studio album by Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, released on 26 September 2007 in Finland, 28 September in Europe and 2 October 2007 in the United States. It is the first album without original vocalist Tarja Turunen, who was dismissed in 2005, as well as the first album involving future member Troy Donockley on uilleann pipes and tin whistle. It is the first of only two albums with vocalist Anette Olzon, who was eventually dismissed in 2012 after the release of the band’s subsequent album, Imaginaerum. Tuomas Holopainen has referred to it as the “album that saved his life”.
The first single, “Eva”, was leaked on the Internet six days before its official release, prompting the band to release the single earlier to boost downloads. Several other versions of the song were posted on YouTube and torrentsites a month later; the entire album with record label voiceovers had been leaked on the Internet by 2 August. The full album (without voiceovers) was leaked on 21 September 2007, as a result of several stores in Mexicoselling the retail album much prior to the worldwide release date.
Pre-orders for Dark Passion Play had it certified gold in Finland before it had even been released. The album debuted at number one in 6 European countries, selling over 100,000 copies in Finland (triple platinum). In February 2008, the album was certified quadruple-platinum in Finland, after having sold over 120,000 copies, which makes it one of the 40 best-selling albums of all time in the country. Worldwide, Dark Passion Play has sold almost 2 million copies since its release.
Before the album’s release, band leader Tuomas Holopainen said in an interview that the album would have a lot in common with the previous album Once. For example, the band have kept the new kind of heavier songs, such as “Master Passion Greed”, “Whoever Brings the Night”, “7 Days to the Wolves”, and “Bye Bye Beautiful”, but additionally there are softer ballads, such as “Meadows of Heaven”, “Eva”, and “The Islander”. This album includes lots of guest musicians and orchestral parts, just like Once, but with a bigger level.
Just like the album Once, Nightwish included many new influences and experimentations in several tracks. On Once, much inspiration came from Native American music, especially “Creek Mary’s Blood”, which featured Lakota Indian musician John Two-Hawks. However, on Dark Passion Play, much inspiration comes from Finnish and Irish culture and music, which can be clearly heard on “Last of the Wilds”. Songs like “Master Passion Greed” and “Cadence of Her Last Breath” included thrash metal and alternative metal elements as well, displaying the newer, more modern sound of the band. In a later interview, Hietela said the band “didn’t get as far with it [the song] as we wanted to when we recorded the song in the studio – we wanted it to be a little bit more impressive”.
Holopainen also said that there are darker pieces reminiscent of the album Century Child, such as “The Poet and the Pendulum”, and some others. It will be a dark album, both musically and lyrically. Even though the album is much more upbeat than Century Child. Songs that reflect this mood are for example the second single “Amaranth” and “Bye Bye Beautiful”‘s B-side “Escapist.”
The album has sold more than 130,000 copies in Finland to date, placing 26th on the list of best-selling Finnish albums ever released, which has granted it a platinum certification four times. Worldwide, it has sold over 700,000 copies by the end of 2007 and about 2 million copies to date. It has been certified as Platinum in Germany and Hungary, and Gold in Austria, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland; Dark Passion Play is also the most successful Nightwish album in UK and USA with sales in the United States of over 134,000 copies.
As of January 2008, the album has topped the album charts in six countries; the singles, “Amaranth” and “Erämaan Viimeinen” have both reached the first position on Finnish charts. According to Last.fm, “Dark Passion Play” is their most played album, and its successful single “Amaranth” has as of February 2009 been holding the position of most played song since its release.
The album was also critically acclaimed in most reviews. Allmusic called the album a “sort of opera aria” and praised “Bye Bye Beautiful”, on a track pic and “Eva”, that they say it focus on the new vocalist vocal abilities.
The album was also given a positive review by Blabbermouth’s Keith Bergman, who gave the album a 7.5 out of 10 and stated that it “may not be a masterpiece throughout, but it’s got enough moments of symphonic metal bliss to warrant a high recommendation. About.com writer, Chad Bowar, gave the album a score of 4 out of 5 stars, calling Dark Passion Play “an excellent album that’s right up there with the best the band has done.”