They’re the most successful Finnish band worldwide, having sold over 9 million records, and have toured the world over for 25 years. They’re the flag bearers for symphonic metal and the yardstick by which any other bands in the genre are measured. They’ve not only persevered, but have triumphed, through multiple personnel changes, like a true dynasty.
Nightwish are Finnish music royalty.
The history of Nightwish is best looked at in three parts, signified by the change of vocalist.
For the first nine years, Nightwish were fronted by Tarja Turunen. With her powerful soprano voice, it was in this period Nightwish began to craft that iconic symphonic metal sound. Heavy metal music with touches of power metal influence, made grander with keys and strings, would back Tarja’s soaring, dramatic vocal delivery.
In 2005, through events that received global coverage in music news outlets, Turunen left Nightwish, triggering a short hiatus for the band, before they began auditioning potential vocalists.
Ultimately, the band went with Swedish singer Anette Olzon. In a change of formula for Nightwish, Olzon’s had a more rock oriented vocal style, a dramatic change from Turunen’s highly operatic voice. However, Nightwish produced two successful albums, spawning some of threat biggest singles, with Olzon on vocal duties.
In late 2012, Olzon was dismissed from the band, with Dutch vocalist Floor Jansen filling in for the remainder of the tour. Eventually, the band returned to the studio with Jansen remaining as vocalist.
Vocally Jansen’s style is also very rock-driven, but with more flourishes reminiscent of the early days of Nightwish. So far, Floor has fronted two albums for Nightwish, both being well received.
Few bands can survive a vocalist change and continue with such success. This is an even taller task when the original vocalist is a incomparable and iconic voice. But to then consider Nightwish have navigated this not once, but twice defies everything we understand about the fleeting nature of success in the music industry.
But Nightwish persevere. Juggernauts of the genre, the remain the shadow all other symphonic metal bands must endure life under.