I had missed this news... He announced this back in January. Marko Hietala leaves Nightwish | Louder
In an impassioned social media post headed “Dear people, I am leaving Nightwish and my public life”, Heitala announced that he had come to his decision in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic after becoming “disillusioned” with the music industry.
Not only had he done some great work with Nightwish, he had also done a lot of collaborations with Charlotte Wessels (formerly of Delain), and Floor Jansen (formerly of After Forever), and others I can't think of right now.
I hope he finds whatever he is looking for. He hints that he is not going to be gone forever. I certainly hope not.
The photo above is of Marko Hietala in 2013 at Tuska Open Air, via WikiMedia Commons. (Click for more info.) His hair is more grey/white today, making him look a bit like Gandalf.
And Marco versus Marko. His name is officially Marko. It has been listed in the music press and on albums as Marco since before he joined Nightwish 20 years ago. I'm not sure why he is now trying to correct that, but I can go along with that...
Here is one of those duets. Charlotte Wessels and Delain, with Marko Hietala performing "The Gathering". It was originally on the 2006 album Lucidity, though this is a live recording from the 2017 Masters of Rock festival in the Czech Republic.
The performance is not perfect. At some points in the song you can tell that Charlotte Wessels is tired, and can't quite reach the full extent of her range. But that is the point of live performances; you get the chance of greatness, but that means abandoning the search for perfection. If you want the studio version, it is at this link.
The Masters of Rock is a big festival. 2017's lineup included Delain, Anneke van Giersbergen and VUUR, Sabaton, Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister), Lacuna Coil, and bunch more. The 2021 lineup includes Delain, Uriah Heep, Tarja, Battle Beast, Amaranthe, Dream Theatre, Within Temptation and more. Almost makes me want to brave large crowds, but no. (I have been avoiding large crowds for much longer than COVID has been a thing.)