April 10, 2014 Tuomas Holopainen – Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge (Album review)
Tuomas Holopainen is the founder, main composer, and keyboardist of Finnish orchestral metal band Nightwish. On Nightwish’s last three albums, Once (2004), Dark Passion Play (2007) and Imaginaerum (2011), the direction of the music has became larger than ever, with more instruments, more orchestra, and more soundtrack type of music. In fact, Nightwish’s Imaginaerum actually was a soundtrack to their own movie by the same name. Besides this clear progression, Holopainen is known for his passion of Disney, a Disney collector, and a loyal reader of the weekly Donald Duck. It comes as no surprise that during some phase of his career he wanted to combine his two passions together into something creative and now his debut solo album titled Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge is born.
Holopainen has made it a point to clarify in interviews that his venture into a solo project is definitely not the end of Nightwish, nor is it a threat to the band, instead this is something he has wanted to do for a long time and now finally gets the opportunity. To help listeners understand the concept behind the album, it is in fact a soundtrack to a Don Rosa’s comic book about Scrooge McDuck, called The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. To Holopainen’s delight, Rosa himself drew the cover artwork for the album and drawings in the music video for the first single “A Lifetime of Adventure”. To a longtime fan such as Holopainen this is quite an honor considering Rosa quit drawing and writing comics over five years ago.
It should also be clarified The Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge is not a metal album, but a symphonic soundtrack. The orchestra heard throughout the album is The London Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged by Pip Williams, who has also arranged the orchestral portions of the last three Nightwish albums. The album also features four guest vocalists; Alan Reid (Battlefield Band) as Scrooge McDuck, Johanna Iivanainen as The Narrator and Downy O’Drake, Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) as Storyteller and Johanna Kurkela as “Glittering” Goldie o’Gilt. Kurkela is a talented and successful Finnish singer and is also Holopanien’s long-time girlfriend.
The opening song “Glasgow 1877” has a Celtic sound creating a calm beginning to the album. This relaxing opener gives way to the orchestral song “Into The West” which stimulates your imagination. Having been that The London Philharmonic Orchestra has also performed on The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, this album has a similar epic style which feeds the imagination. “Duel & Cloudscapes”and “Dreamtime” are also orchestrals continuing along the same journey into a fantasy world.
The adventure takes an exciting turn on “Cold Heart of the Klondike“ featuring Alan Reid. On “The Last Sled“ similar dramatic elements to older Nightwish material takes center-stage while Kurkela’s angelic voice fits perfectly with this beautiful but somber atmosphere. Like a story book there are peaks and valleys with an array of emotions which continues on the Celtic folklore style song “Goodbye, Papa“. On “To Be Rich” Holopainen slows the tempo down, creating a gloomy mood which creates vivid imagery that money does not bring fortune. That leads us into the first single off the album “A Lifetime of Adventure” featuring another vocal appearance by Kurkela. The song is majestic and provides a delicate balance of cheerful and melancholy feelings. With the album coming to a close the final offering is “Go Slowly Now, Sands of Times” which is a sad old story told by Scrooge McDuck himself.
Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge is an album for every occasion and for every emotion felt. The album has a tranquil effect, similar to that of Classic music, making it not only for true Nightwish fans or metal fans, but for everyone. There is no question Tuomas Holopainen is one of the most talented musical composers of our time and this album proves it. CrypticRock give Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge 5 out of 5 stars.Review written by Pauliina Åkerlund