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Hiatus and arrival of Anette Olzon (2006-2009)   

In order to find a replacement for Tarja Turunen as the female vocalist of the band, on March 17, 2006 the band allowed vocalists interested for the position to send in demo tapes as an audition for the spot. During this time, speculation began to emerge about who would eventually be chosen, and the band stated on their website that fans should not believe any source other than the band itself for information regarding the new vocalist. In the end, the 35-year-old Alyson Avenue's ex-lead singer, Anette Olzon, from Sweden, was chosen.

In September 2006, the band entered the studio to record their sixth studio album, Dark Passion Play. In May, next year, Anette Olzon was announced to replace Turunen. Holopainen has said in interviews that he did not wish to reveal her identity until new material was available because he did not want fans judging her by nothing more than a picture, or past work.

The day after this revealing, May 25, 2007, charity single "Eva" was released for download only as the first offering from the new album, and the first featuring Olzon. It was originally scheduled for release on May 30, but the date was changed because of a leak on a British music download site. On June 13, Nightwish revealed the title and artwork for the new album on their official website, as well as the name and cover of the second single (this time CD), "Amaranth"; it was released in Finland on August 22 and included a bonus track entitled "While Your Lips Are Still Red" written by Tuomas as the main theme track for the upcoming Finnish feature film "Lieksa!".The single achieved gold status in Finland after less than two days in stores.

Dark Passion Play was released around Europe in the last week of September, 2007, in the UK on October 1, and the United States on October 2. It was awarded double platinum in Finland the second day after its release and took the number one position on the charts of Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Hungary and Croatia and got in top 100 in other 16 countries, including the United States.

On this album, male vocalist Marco Hietala had more freedom in the use of his voice: he sings back up in the songs "Cadence of Her Last Breath" and "Sahara", lead vocals in the songs "The Islander", "Master Passion Greed" and "While Your Lips Are Still Red", and chorus in the songs "Bye Bye Beautiful" and "7 Days to the Wolves". He also sings one part in "The Poet and the Pendulum", besides singing back up in the chorus. Before the band found the new singer and the album was recorded, Marco sang on all the demo versions. Holopainen also sang on the demo versions of "Bye Bye Beautiful" and "Master Passion Greed" but these songs have never been released. On September 22, 2007, the band hosted a secret concert at Rock Café in TallinnEstonia, disguising itself as a Nightwish cover band called "Nachtwasser". Their first official concert with Olzon was in Tel AvivIsrael, on October 6, 2007. The Dark Passion Play tour thus started, visiting the United StatesCanada, most of EuropeAsia, and Australia.

The third single of the album was "Erämaan viimeinen", a previously unreleased vocal version of the instrumental "Last of the Wilds". It was released in Finland only on December 5, 2007. On this song, Jonsu of the Finnish pop and rock band Indica performs the Finnish vocals. 

"Bye Bye Beautiful", the fourth single, was released on February 15, 2008, and concerns the 2005 dismissal of Turunen, as does one other song on the album (Master Passion Greed). The single includes yet another bonus track, "Escapist", which is also included on the Japanese version of Dark Passion Play. Within a week after the release, the fifth single was announced to be "The Islander". It was released over a month after the release of its music video, shot in late 2007 in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.

The Dark Passion Play tour turned out to be Nightwish's longest tour yet, lasting from the fall of 2007 to September 2009 when it ended with a concert in Hartwall Arena – the band's second concert there – with the band Apocalyptica.

On March 6, 2009, Nightwish released a new live EP/DVD entitled Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places). The eight live tracks were recorded during the "Dark Passion Play World Tour" in 2007–2008, and the album also includes one b-side from the "Bye Bye Beautiful" single, one b-side from the "Amaranth" single, a previously unreleased demo version of "Cadence of Her Last Breath", and a bonus-DVD with three music videos as well as a 37-minute documentary called Back in the Day is Now.

Imaginaerum (2009-2012)

In the June 2009 edition of the Finnish magazine Soundi, Holopainen stated that he had started work on a new Nightwish album. In October 2009, rumors about the new album's name were going around with the title Wind Embraced, but lead vocalist Anette Olzon listed the rumors as "not true" and said that the songs for the new album had not yet been completed apart from three songs written before May 2009. Holopainen said in a 2010 interview,

"I can't reveal to you anymore but there is going to be a big twist so to say, on the next album." 

In an interview with Uilleann pipist Troy Donockley (who recorded with the band on Dark Passion Play), when asked about his involvement in the new album, he stated, "Oh yes, I will be playing on the next album and from what Tuomas has told me, it is going to be something extraordinary..."

On February 1, 2010, Olzon stated on her blog that Holopainen had nine songs ready for the new album. She also stated that the band will be meeting in the summer to make a demo, and fans should not expect anything any earlier than fall of 2011. In April, 2010, Holopainen revealed on the Nightwish homepage that he had finished writing the songs, and on June 2, it was announced that he had finished recording the pre-production demo.

The band announced in late 2010 that more information of the album's actual content would be released in late January, but on February 1, the official website bore a statement written by Holopainen that because of the schedule changes he can't yet give away as much details as he would have wanted, but more information will be out after a couple of months. He added, however, that "it still is the Burton-Gaiman-Dalí - amusement park we are about to enter"; In the same statement it was revealed that the album will be a theme album and "mood changes seem to be more present than ever before", and the orchestration demos he had received from Pip Williams were described as "beautiful, twisted, tribal and cinematic stuff". In the Finnish version of the statement, it was also revealed that a few songs will not get any orchestrations at all, differing from their latest album on which all songs had the background orchestra.

Announcements continued throughout 2011. On February 10, Nightwish announced on their website that the new album title would be Imaginaerum. They also declared that the band had been preparing a movie based on the album, which would be released in 2012 and directed by Stobe Harju, who previously directed the music video for "The Islander". On August 22, 2011, it was announced on their official website that the album of Imaginaerum would be released at the end of the year. On August 31, Nightwish announced on their website their decision to change Imaginarium title to Imaginaerum "In order to avoid mix-ups with various things named 'IMAGINARIUM'". Then on September 2, Nightwish announced on their website that the new single called Storytime will be released on Friday, November 11 and on September 9, Nightwish revealed the cover and track list.

On January 11, 2012, Nightwish announced on their website that the second single "The Crow, the Owl and the Dove" would be released on February 29. Roadrunner Records announced that Nightwish would be releasing a 10" LP titled Trials of Imaginaerum in conjunction with Record Store Day (April 21, 2012). The 10" LP is a two sided picture disk, which contains four early demos of "Storytime", "The Crow, The Owl and The Dove", "I Want My Tears Back" and "Slow, Love, Slow".

Olzon's dismissal (2012)

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced via their Facebook page that they were parting ways with Olzon. According to the press statement, "it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover". This announcement came days after Olzon fell ill at a show in DenverColorado and was unable to perform. Nightwish used replacement singers from the opening band, Kamelot, and Olzon later expressed her disappointment, saying "I was never asked if it was OK that they used Elize and Alissa in the show [Friday] night [...] I don't think it's a good decision they made and I'm sorry for those of you who came to see the whole band but got something else. But I was very ill and this decision wasn't mine." According to the statement, Dutch singer Floor Jansen, (ex-After ForeverReVamp) would sing for the remainder of the Imaginaerum World Tour.

On January 11, 2013, Olzon announced on her official blog that she was pregnant with her third child, due in spring 2013. This was a contributing factor to her being dismissed. The band then released a statement on their website declaring that the reason Olzon gave for her dismissal and other statements she made were untrue and that Olzon herself had agreed to help find a replacement while she was on maternity leave. Later on, Olzon gave several interviews in which she told that she never agreed with a replacement, even when she was pregnant, and proposed to the band to postpone the tour, culminating on her firing. She also added that she was against Jansen joining the band in her period of maternity, mainly because of the difference in their vocal styles.

In a 2015 interview, Holopainen said the band "emerged stronger" from the line-up changes it went through.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful, arrival of Floor Jansen and Troy Donockley (2013-present)

In an interview with Metal Hammer in November 2012, Tuomas Holopainen stated that they already had a rehearsal place booked from July 2014 to September 2014, but before they began rehearsing the band members would be taking a break from Nightwish for several months.

On 9 October 2013, Nightwish announced Jansen as the permanent replacement for Olzon. Troy Donockley has also been announced as a full-time member, making the band become a sextet for the first time. In a later interview, Tuomas said that because of Donockley's previous work with Nightwish already made him "much a band member", so the band just "made it official". According to the band's webpage, the band would enter the studio in 2014 to record their eighth full-length album for a 2015 release. At that time the band already announced that it would contain Nightwish's longest song to date.

At the end of November, the band released the live album Showtime, Storytime. Despite the recording happening when they were only tour members, it is the first Nightwish release to feature Jansen, and to have her and Donockley credited as band members. The album also carries a documentary containing the behind-the-scenes of Jansen's first days in the band and the process of replacing Olzon.

In May 2014, Tuomas updated his official website, stating that he and producer Tero "TeeCee" Kinnunen have been recording 12 demos (and possibly 3 bonus tracks) for the new album in Hattula, Finland. The band expected to start rehearsing in July in Eno, Finland, with the recording finished in January 2015, and the album released in Spring that year, "If everything goes as scheduled". Commenting on the music, Tuomas said:

It's still too early to analyze the material more closely, but the album will once again explore all the ends of the spectrum, bringing the very best out of the newcomers Floor and Troy. And stealthily the album ended up having a theme running through it.

On August 6, the band announced that founding member and drummer Jukka Nevalainen would not be part of the upcoming album due to his very difficult insomnia. Kai Hahto (Wintersun) would be taking his place in the album and the upcoming tour.

Evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins was announced as a guest star on the album, with Holopainen stating that he had "been so enthusiastic about this kind of literature for the past few months, and will be for the upcoming months, that it's going to come out somehow."

In November, the band filmed a music video for "Élan", one of the tracks of the album. On December 8, the band announced that it would be the first single from the album, which would be released on February 13, 2015.

The new album's cover art and its title, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, were revealed on December 22, and the album was released on March 27, 2015. Produced by Tero "TeeCee" Kinnunen, the title for Endless Forms Most Beautiful was taken from the writings of English naturalist Charles Darwin. The album features the participation of London's The Metro Voices choir group, London's Young Musicians Children‘s Choir, and the Orchestre De Grandeur led by the esteemed orchestral arranger Pip Williams, who teaches Music and Music Technology at the London College of Music. 

Professor Richard Dawkins not only narrates the introduction to the album's opener, "Shudder Before the Beautiful," but also the album's closer, "The Greatest Show on Earth," which takes its name from his 2009 book on evolution. The album sold in its first week 18,342 copies in the US and debuted at 34 on the Billboard 200, making it Nightwish's third album (after Dark Passion Play  and Imaginaerum) to chart in this category. In Czech Republic the album debuted atop the charts and received gold-status after just two days. The album charted in top 10 in other countries as well, including Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Austria and Mexico. In the support of album's release the band embarked on an Endless Forms Most Beautiful World Tour, which started on April 9, 2015 in New York, USA and ended on October 9, 2016 in Saitama, Japan.

In July 2015, it was announced that Sonata Arctica's vocalist Tony Kakko  would replace Jukka Nevalainen as the bands's special guest at the 2015 edition of Rock in Rio. In December 2015, they became the first Finnish band to headline a show at the Wembley Arena, in London. The sold-out show had the guest performance of Richard Dawkins, who spoke his parts on stage. The Tampere and London shows were filmed for a future DVD release known as Vehicle of Spirit.

On August 20, 2016 the band played a special 20th anniversary show at Himos Areena in Finland. The show featured original bassist Sami Vänskä on the song "Stargazers" and drummer Jukka Nevalainen on the song "Last Ride of the Day". The band is expected to take a break in 2017, in which Jansen will be focusing on her first child. Holopainen has said that the band will continue in 2018 and beyond, with another album that will continue the themes explored in Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

Official website

Albums   

Angels Fall First (1997)

Oceanborn (1998)

Wishmaster (2000)

Wishmastour 2000 (2000) compilation

From Wishes to Eternity (2001) live cd & video

Over the Hills and Far Away (2001) ep

Century Child (2002)

End of Innocence (2003) video album

Once (2004)

Tales from the Elvenpath (2004) compilation 

Bestwishes (2005( compilation

Highest Hopes: The Best of Nightwish (2005) compilation

End of an Era (2006) live cd & video

Dark Passion Play (2007)

The Sound of Nightwish Reborn (2008) compilation

Made in Hong Kong (2009) live ep & video

Imaginaerum (2011)

Walking in the Air: The Greatest Ballads (2011) compilation

Showtime, Storytime (2013) live cd & video

Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015)

Vehicle of Spirit (2016) live cd & video





















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Members

Tuomas Holopainen – keyboardspiano, synthesizers (1996–present),  vocals (1996–1998)

Emppu Vuorinen – guitars (1996–present), bass (1997)

Jukka Nevalainen – drumspercussion (1997–2014; on hiatus)

Marco Hietala – bass, vocals (2001–present)

Troy Donockley – uilleann pipestin whistlelow whistle, guitars,  bouzoukibodhránbacking vocals (2013–present; session member: 2007–2013)

Floor Jansen – lead vocals (2013–present; touring member: 2012–2013)  

Kai Hahto — drums (replacement for Jukka Nevalainen), sinds 2014

 

Former members

Tarja Turunen – lead vocals  (1996–2005)

Sami Vänskä – bass (1998–2001, guested in 2016)

Anette Olzon – lead vocals  (2007–2012)

Samppa Hirvonen — bass (1997) (only at live performance)

Marjaana Pellinen — Backgroundsinger (1997) (only at live performance)

   

Session / touring member

Kai Hahto – drums (2014–present)


Former session members

Samppa Hirvonen – bass guitar (1997–1998, live)

Marianna Pellinen – keyboards, backing vocals (1997–1998, live)

Esa Lehtinen – flutes (1997–2000, studio)


Guestsingers

Tony Kakko (Sonata ArcticaFrom Wishes To EternityThe Beauty And the BeastAstral Romance en Over The Hills And Far Away

Tapio "Tonquemada" Wilska (ex-Finntroll, Sethian) OceanbornOver The Hills And Far Away and From Wishes To Eternity

Ike Vil (Babylon Whores) Kinslayer voice in Wishmaster

John Two-Hawks Once and End Of An Era

Sam Hardwick Dead Boy's voice in Wishmaster and Century Child

Jonsu (from the band Indica) — Vocalist in Erämaan Viimeinen (Last Of The Wilds)