Tuomas Holopainen and Johanna Kurkela, the royal couple of the Finnish rock and metal scenes, have dropped the first single from their joint progressive folk band Auri’s second album.
Auri, which features Nightwish’s main composer and keyboardist Holopainen and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley, as well as folk singer and Holopainen’s wife Kurkela, has been a successful progressive folk group since their debut album “Auri” reached Number 1 on the Finnish album charts in 2018.
“Pearl Diving” is the lead single off of Auri’s second album, “II – Those We Don’t Speak Of,” which will be released on September 3, 2021, on Nuclear Blast Records.
On Nuclear Blast’s press release, Donockley stated “No lifebelts needed. Where is the sea and where is the boat but more importantly, what is ‘The Pearl’? How deep do we dive to find it? How was it made and how old is it? Shapeshifters and the whispering seagulls of the 12-note scale will tell us. Aweigh anchor, Away!”
Though Auri and Holopainen and Donockley’s main band Nightwish mine the same themes, there is a considerable difference between their symphonic metal sound and Auri’s slower, more contemplative progressive folk. While Holopainen’s synthesizers are a dominant sound for Nightwish, Auri allows Donockley and his Celtic based instruments and Kurkela’s more folk oriented vocals to shine.
Nightwish, who are arguably Finland’s biggest metal export, and Kurkela have both attempted to represent Finland at Eurovision on two separate occasions.
ESC United has covered the controversial Finnish national selection of 2000, where televote favorite Nightwish and jury favorite Nylon Beat lost out to Nina Astrom’s “A Little Bit,” which only ended up in 18th place at Eurovision 2000 due to 7 points from Estonia and 5 points from The Netherlands.
Since then, Nightwish have become one of the world’s biggest metal bands, from the Tarja Turunen fronted era of “Oceanborn” to the current Floor Jansen fronted era of “Human. :II: Nature.”
After Lordi crushed Eurovision 2006 with “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” Finland got to host Eurovision 2007 and held the multistage “Euroviisut 2007” to select their hometown representative.
Kurkela, an up and coming folk singer in Finland whose debut album “Hetki hiljaa” reached Number 36 on the Finnish Album Charts in 2005, tried out for Finland in 2007 and ended up in 6th place out of 12 in the grand final with “Olet uneni kaunein” (“You are the most beautiful of my dreams”).
Hanna Pakarinen ended up winning the Finnish national selection in 2007 with “Leave Me Alone,” which ended up coming in 17th place at the Grand Final of Eurovision 2007.
But fates for Nightwish and Kurkela collided when Holopainen and Kurkela began dating in 2009 and got married on October 28, 2015. Seeking a softer creative outlet, Holopainen roped his wife in with his bandmate Donockley to form Auri.
For those wondering how Auri’s sound sits relative to Nightwish, Donockley told Dead Rhetoric that “We don’t see it as very different from Nightwish at all. Sonically it is, for sure. We were struggling to find a label for it, as it usually happens, so I just tossed out ‘celestial metal.’ So this Polish journalist said to me, “I know what you mean about celestial metal. It’s kind of heavenly music. It has the metal attitude, but without all of the electric guitars and bass.” Metal is an attitude. The metal scene – the metal fans are open-minded, as I said before. The Italian [Nightwish] fanclub, I did an interview with them, and this was brought up and she told me that she was a fan of Dimmu Borgir as well as Ed Sheeran. That’s it right there!”
Have #YOU been following the careers of Nightwish and Johanna Kurkela since their attempts to represent Finland at Eurovision? Do #YOU think they should try again, individually or combined, to represent Finland? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.