'The Life And Times Of Scrooge'
Release Date: April 14th 2014
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
The amazing creativity of this one man cannot be understated. He has been the imagination behind some truly spectacular Gothic/Symphonic wonder under the guise of Nightwish since their 1997 debut 'Angels Fall First' to their latest studio opus 'Imaginaerum'.
Holopainen has added his magic touch to other projects and keeps busy. No idle hands at the end of his arms I can tell you. So here we are, confronted with an entire solo album and knowing how much can be achieved by Tuomas Holopainen, it isn't merely a straight forward bag of songs.
Holopainen has been on a quest for around 14 years and with his inclination and energy focussed on a singular vision, he has assembled ten compositions which encompass the audio equivalent of a soundtrack, inspired by the graphic novel called 'The Life & Times Of Scrooge McDuck'. Little did the illustrator and writer Don Rosa of this graphic novel, realise what an inspiration his images and storytelling would have over the creative engine of one of Finland's biggest musical exports.
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With a cast that have done justice and brought this ambitious project to our ears, we have four guest vocalists to acknowledge: Johanna Kurkela, Tony Kakko, Johanna Iivanainen and Alan Reid. Providing more shades and textures to the sound is the London Orchestra, the Metro Voices Choir from London, Troy Donockley on uilleann pipes, low whistles and bodhran, Mikko Iivanainen on guitars and banjo, Teho Majamaki playing didgeridoo, Jon Burr on harmonica with Dermot Crehan applying his talent on the solo violin.
Entranced by the 12 chapters of this graphic novel, Holopainen said: "Whenever I read those stories, I hear music. I hear different melodies and instruments really, really strongly, because the book in itself is rather cinematic. I thought it would be a cool idea to let all that music come out and see what happens. I also fancied the idea of maybe being the first one to ever write a soundtrack to a graphic novel. I don't think it's been done before."
Whisking you away from the mechanics and back story of this album, I can categorically state that it is a huge classical-based collection with hints of Celtic and folk in places. The music is grandiose and successfully paints images in the mind's eye. It is serene, elegant and expressive thanks to arrangements coordinated by Pip Williams known for his contributions on albums like 'Once' and 'Dark Passion Play' by Nightwish.
It isn't strictly for the readership of MetalTalk though as it lacks the Rock/Metal credentials to ease the neck muscles to nod back and forth, or the fundamental ingredients that we associate with our experience of the contemporary sounds that make up our music scene. The only real connection is that there are players we relate to for their work with bands we know.
'A Lifetime Of Adventure' offers up something close, but the album is a success in what it wanted to capture nevertheless. The desired result is something of novelty to a Metal/Rock fans ears and perhaps may have fitted a Christmas-related release better?
From what I have seen of the packaging, it looks awesome! Ultimately though, this is a self-indulgent concept that has been well executed; but isn't really appropriate for the Metal/Rock-loving masses who are searching or hoping for something similar to Nightwish or sound-wise anything that may be related. Due to this conclusion, I have graded it twice below...
Into The West
Duel & Cloudscapes
Cold Heart Of The Klondike
The Last Sled
To Be Rich
A Lifetime Of Adventure
Go Slowly Now, Sands Of Time