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Examining The Dark Element:
The Anette Olzon Interview and
The Dark Element Review

The Dark Element - The Dark Element

The Dark Element is a new project fronted by former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon, together with Finnish guitarist and songwriter Jani Liimatainen of Sonata Arctica fame. Seeing this album land on my desk prompted three thoughts immediately: 1) It’s on the Frontiers label, it’s gotta be good; 2) It’s going to be great to hear Anette Olzon sing again; and 3) With Jani from Sonata Arctica writing and Anette singing, this might sound a lot like Nightwish. 
Well, let me address those thoughts….
First, it is on the brilliant Italian record label, Frontiers Music, and it is another great addition to their stellar catalog. Anette Olzon is sharper than ever here, so it really was a pleasure to hear her take on a new set of songs. And lastly, this really doesn’t sound like Nightwish.

When he was with Sonata Arctica, Jani Liimatainen fit into a style that I would say was similar in tone and structure to Nightwish, one that sat comfortably within the symphonic metal genre. Here on The Dark Element, the writing still has that large signature sound, but the symphonics and the more progressive song structures are kept to a minimum. Instead, these songs incorporate and rely on catchier hooks and much more melody. “Jani has written and produced the album so it's his lyrics and music. I did the part of interpreting the songs and putting my harmonies in there,” declared Olzon during a recent interview. When asked what the biggest difference was between The Dark Element and Nightwish she explained, “In this project I was free to sing the songs as I wished, meaning I didn't have anyone telling me exactly how to sing them and that I could do which harmonies I wanted to sing in the songs. Also, I could decide what keys the songs should be in, whereas in Nightwish someone else decided. [With Nightwish] they also told me how to sing and so on, so for me it's much more fun to work this way; to be a part of the creativity and be given that respect as a singer.”

When Liimatainen chose to have Olzon sing his songs, he had to be confident that these songs would be able to stand on their own and not take on a Nightwish quality. These songs are definitely The Dark Element and not Nightwish, and that was really refreshing to hear. All of these songs work well as a unit, too. The sequencing gives the record a nice flow that washes the listener through from start to finish. I asked Olzon which song she would remove if that was something that she had to do, and she would have none of it. “None, [be]cause I like them all and they fit perfectly together,” she said. I really couldn’t agree more. Taking any song from this track listing would change the whole vibe of the album, and that’s a rare quality in this age of digital downloads and streaming.

As I listened to the songs here, I was treated to the same great guitar work I so enjoyed with the Sonata Arctica material. Because these songs are a bit more melodic doesn’t mean that aggression and heaviness is sacrificed. These songs have plenty of bombast and complexity, but melody is definitely driving this heavy machine. When I reached the end of the album, I wanted more and wondered if that might ever happen. “I hope we will tour, and I also hope we can do more albums. I loved to sing the songs and hope Jani has more ideas in his head for more songs in the future,” said Olzon.
I hope so too, Anette. 
I hope so, too.


Anette was kind enough to answer a few questions about her career and her personal life apart from The Dark Element as well…. 

Dr. Music: If you had a chance to play just one song from your career for someone that has never heard your work, what song would you play for them?
Anette Olzon: “One from my solo album or one from this album. Any one will do. ;-)”

Dr. Music: What do you feel is your finest recorded performance?
Anette Olzon: “Same as above; my own solo album and The Dark Element.”

Dr. Music: Will we ever see another solo album from you?
Anette Olzon: “I really hope so, I would love to write another one and release through a nice record label.”

Dr. Music: Looking back at all of the music you've created in your career, is there anything you regret doing?
Anette Olzon: “No, not really. I believe I can stand for it all.”

Dr. Music: Streaming music, instead of buying CD's or downloads, is how most people seem to listen today. What are your thoughts about music subscription services like Apple Music and Spotify?
Anette Olzon: “It's a good thing for the listener but bad for the artist, since they pay us so badly for the songs we release and get played there.”

Dr. Music: What is the best thing, and the worst thing, about being a musician? Would you encourage your children to follow in your footsteps?
Anette Olzon: “Best thing is of course to sing, and worst things is the business side of it and greedy people in it. I want them to do music if they wish, but I'd try and teach them the things to avoid when doing it.”

Dr. Music: If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Anette Olzon: “Sting”

Dr. Music: Where would you like to see yourself, personally and professionally, 10 years from now?
Anette Olzon: “I'm a happy singer who has released more albums, played more nice arenas, and [have] happy children who [are] healthy and happy.”

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