Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nightwish - Wishmaster

So Nightwish, you probably heard of them. Of all the many central European metal bands I love Nightwish is probably the most successful and easily the most famous in my native Canada. Perhaps Nightwish needs no introduction, but as a quick summary Nightwish is perhaps the first, or at the very least the first famous, metal band to use a beautiful female trained in opera as their lead singer, and that kind of became a big thing.

Naturally I was on board with the idea of opera singer meets metal band, and in many ways Nightwish was a launching point for me to discover the wonderful world of central European metal which is absolutely my favorite genre music currently. However there is something else about Nightwish that makes them special, and that is fantasy, it would be difficult to argue Nightwish as being anything other than a power metal band and impossible to deny their fantasy inspirations and themes.

As someone who is attempting to write his own fantasy epic and as someone who writes his own music blog as a hobby you can imagine I have been involved in countless conversations where the two topics overlap. Once many, moons ago, a friend asked me what sort of music inspires me the most when I write epic battle scenes, as that is the best thing to be interested about in this world. This gentleman in question was rather into really heavy badass warriors and combat as well as metal and who isn’t really? So I thought for a moment and came up with a couple of Nightwish songs, the two that always stood out to me the most for this specific sort of criteria are “Planet Hell” and “Wishmaster.”

“Planet Hell” is a great song and has always been one of my favorite Nightwish songs however this is not the time to talk about “Planet Hell” just yet. Today we are discussing “Wishmaster.”

“Wishmaster” is the title track of Nightwish’s third studio album which was released in the year 2000. It was around this time that Nightwish started to establish themselves in the international market of metal due to the success of their second album “Oceanborn.” While “Oceanborn” is a great album it is the hit songs off of “Wishmaster” that really started building Nightwish’s momentum. Songs like “She is My Sin,” “Deep Silent Complete” and as of this moment, most notably, the self title track “Wishmaster” that really set the stage for who Nightwish were, what they were about, and where they were going.

With a band name like Nightwish, it does not take tremendous powers of observation to notice how a album and song titled “Wishmaster” might has some level of personal connection or involvement in its artistic meaning. What I am trying to say is “Wishmaster” in many ways is Nightwish’s primary flagship song. It is not just the name but also the content of the song; naturally it is a hard hitting metal song with beautiful lead vocals from Tarja. It is a Nightwish song where Tarja really gets to show off but also has a great guitar solo where Emppu gets to show off, a little bit of everything and great pacing by the rhythm section to boot. There is also a mysterious reference to seven individuals;

7th Seeker,
In me the Wishmaster.”

I have read a lot of fantasy novels but I have no idea who these seven individuals being referred too are. Oh but it gets better.

"Varda" by Gustav oMalek

I know these two, they are from the Silmarillion. Elbereth is the alternate name for Varda the eldest of the female gods, known as the Valier; she is the lady of the stars and dwells with Manwe the eldest of the Valar, the male gods. Lorien is the second youngest of the Valar (not including Morgoth), and is the master of visions and dreams, and Esre is his spose who is the Valier of healing wounds and weariness.

So that’s some pretty intense and obscure fantasy reference but you are not going to out Tolkien me Nightwish.

Then they drop these two names:
Silvara from the cover
of one of the Dragonlance
books.  I couldn't figure
out which one.


Okay... I’ve never heard of them. But a quick Google search should clear that up. These characters are from the Dragon Lance novel series apparently.

Silvara is the name the silver dragon though she was often sen in her polymorph elf form, so that is pretty interesting. Meanwhile Alhana Starbreeze is the leader of the Silvanesti Elves.

The moral of the story, I should probably read the Dragon Lance series when I get a chance. The more important moral of the story, Nightwish are like super awesome metal fantasy fans, and that is probably nowhere made more obvious than a song with a similar namesake that refers to characters from both Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons mythologies.

One mystery still remains, who are the master, the apprentice, heartborne, the 7th seeker, the warrior, the disciple, and the wishmaster? Maybe I will never know. Maybe it will turn out to be a list of fantastic characters from a fantasy world of Nightwish’s own imagination, not unlike Freddie Mercury’s Rhye. If anyone knows I hope they let me know, because I listen to the album and song “Wishmaster” a great many times and often allowed my mind to wonder who these persons might be. It was a fun exercise in dreaming, and that is only made possible by the guitar strings and the drum beats and the baseline and of course Tarja’s voice bringing together a song that perfectly captures the spirit of their band and power metal in general. Also if you do a Google search some better read fantasy fans than I have some very good theories who these individuals are, but there seems to be at least some level of uncertainty still, so for me at least the mystery lingers.

There is a good conversation about it here:

If you have somehow managed to avoid discovering the greatness of Nightwish up until now, then “Wishmaster” is perhaps the finest introduction one could hope to have, and for us who don’t live under a rock we can probably all agree that “Wishmaster” is among Nightwish’s finest work.

Until next year, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

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