Musical Explorations #8: Nightwish – “Amaranth”

Baptized with a perfect name
The doubting one by heart
Alone without himself

War between him and the day
Need someone to blame
In the end, little he can do alone

You believe but what you see
You receive but what you give

Caress the one, the Never Fading
Rain in your heart, the tears of snow white sorrow
Caress the one, the hiding amaranth
In a land of the daybreak

Apart from the wandering path
In this brief flight of time we reach
For the ones, whoever dare

You believe but what you see
You receive but what you give

Caress the one, the Never Fading
Rain in your heart, the tears of snow white sorrow
Caress the one, the hiding amaranth
In a land of the daybreak

Caress the one, the Never Fading
Rain in your heart, the tears of snow white sorrow
Caress the one, the hiding amaranth
In a land of the daybreak

Reaching, searching for something untouched
Hearing voices of the Never Fading calling

Caress the one, the Never Fading
Rain in your heart, the tears of snow white sorrow
Caress the one, the hiding amaranth
In a land of the daybreak

Caress the one, the Never Fading
Rain in your heart, the tears of snow white sorrow
Caress the one, the hiding amaranth
In a land of the daybreak

Nightwish is a symphonic rock band from Finland. Their musical styles cross many genres, such as Celtic and opera, while retaining a heavy metal element.

They are also one of the best heavy metal bands I’ve ever heard.

This song in particular is just…good. Excellent vocals, excellent melody and execution. The lyrics can be a bit confusing at times, but they are structured well despite this, and have a rare poetic quality.

Also, as I was delving into their music, it seems they have a heavy Christian influence.

You’d never know it from their labels and branding. In fact, they come from a background that would indicate leanings to the opposite of Christianity.  Heavy metal is not known as a hotbed of worship (shut up, Skillet, you don’t count).

However, explorations into their songs show otherwise. The song “The Carpenter” is about Jesus the carpenter and His sacrifice for all of us. It’s not even the sort of wishy washy stuff that bands wanting Christian symbolism go for. It’s a bit deeper than that. This is even more explicit in the music videos for songs such as “The Carpenter” and “I Wish I Had an Angel,” both of which feature subtle Christian motifs.

The song “Amaranth” itself starts off with the line,

Baptized in a perfect Name

There’s not many ways to take that.

Along with this, there are of course references to the “never-fading amaranth.” The name amaranth itself is Greek for “never-fading,” and it is a mythological flower that symbolizes immortality and immutability. The amaranth is in fact a real plant (but sadly this one dies).

Great writers such as John Milton and Samuel Taylor Coleridge  have used the amaranth as a symbol for immortality. Of course, many doom metal bands also use this symbol, so it can be and has been used in wrong contexts.

Here, however, I’m inclined to think it refers to God, who is the Never-Fading. The line “rain in your heart” could possibly be a pun for “reign in your heart,”  which would reinforce this view.

The references to needing help, the land of the daybreak, and Nightwish’s other work, point, I believe, to a genuine Christian motif. Nightwish has successfully combined good music, good artistry, and good lyrics without being cheesy in the slightest.

The lead songwriter, Tuomas Holopainen has kept mostly mum about his own religious beliefs. He has said he believes in a “God with a sense of humor,” and has stated that religions are not bad but can be made so by the people interpreting them. From my research, it seems that Tuomas is still a doubting one by heart, searching for the Truth.

Some may point to the culture of darkness that heavy metal usually caters to. To that I respond that they just cannot appreciate Nightwish fully then. It requires an understanding of God’s beauty and a medium of intelligence.

I highly recommend their work, not only the songs mentioned in this post, but also their longer orchestral pieces such as “Meadows of Heaven,” “The Poet and the Pendulum,” and “7 Days to the Wolves.”

If anyone has anything to add concerning symbolism in the music video, please comment. Please note that this is the official music video and therefore reflects their original intent.

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2 comments

  1. Nick House

    The music video is inspired by a painting called “The Wounded Angel”, which is the Finnish national painting.
    Amaranth is flawless, musically. Every part fits seemlessly with the other. I was aware of Nightwish’s Christian influence, but thanks for elaborating. I think it’s “wandering path”, not “wandering pack.” The songwriter is ESL, so that makes his lyrics kind of ambiguous.
    Nightwish not only has a new record coming out, called Imaginarium, but also a movie that goes with it. Sort of like the European Metal version of Yellow Submarine.
    I have always thought that if there was going to be a legitimate Christian Metal band, they should sound like Nightwish. Symphonic/Power metal seems geared towards stories about epic battles of good versus evil.
    And the line “Shut up, Skillet, you don’t count.” was classic.
    I apologize for my ADD Post. I like food.

    • MadDawg Scientist

      I was aware of “The Wounded Angel,” and it is a good pictorial representation of Nightwish as a whole.

      I’m rather excited for the new album. Supposedly June 2011.

      Nightwish is on the edge of being legitimately Christian Metal…I agree with you, anyone trying to break into this area should model them.

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