19 October 2016

Tarja Turunen - The Shadow Self


Hi, it's Jermyn, back again after a Mafia 3 binge. Good game, but slightly repetitive - mainly in the same way the first Assassins Creed game was in the sense that there really wasn't much variety or presentation in the way you do your missions, but it still entertains. Canny soundtrack too, especially if you like Creedence Clearwater Revival. Anyway, blog time...

Well, this should be good. Blogging an album by someone whose Day Job was never really part of my playlist. But I guess that's a good thing as if I blogged only my favourites, then it wouldn't be as much fun or as interesting. As we all know, Tarja Turunen was previously the lead female singer of the symphonic metal band Nightwish, who have had a lot of success in Europe. Since leaving - or was she pushed? - in 2005, she has since set up a successful solo career and continues to go from strength to strength. This is the fourth solo album and I've yet to hear it. As a classically trained singer, she can certainly feel the notes but is this going to be like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and...her out of Evanescence who are all technically gifted singers but would rather do vocal gymnastics that show off their range instead of genuinly interesting melodies? Let's find out...

1) Innocence - Big piano opening, creates images of people who dress like the movie "Amadeus". This soon gives way to a big drum and guitar intro which sound a bit gritty, then the vocals kick in...and, holy shit! Although they sound accomplished, they remind me a lot of the melody from "Listen To Your Heart", a song by (vaguely popular late-80's early-80's Euro pop band) Roxette. It's not too bad, I guess, but what really lets this song down is the mid-section which is an overlong piano solo. It amounts to nothing more than musical wanking and has no business here. It ruins the flow of the song so by the time it resumes proper, any effect the song had has now been dissipated. Oh well.

2) Demons In You - Funk guitar in symphonic metal? Weird intro but this gives way to some crunchy metal. Dual layered vocals create a good effect. Nice mid-section but the funk bit afterwards just doesn't cut it at all. It's like the first song - would be decent if they'd stuck to one thing and not fucked it up with some completely unnecessary bits.

3) No Bitter End - A gentle, very melodious opening gives way to...standard Euro metal stuff. Given the somewhat schizophrenic nature of the first two songs, I'm surprised it didn't go into a different genre altogether. Mind, saying that, the vocals have been really good up to this point. But, aain, given the aforementioned schizophrenic nature of the album, I'm expecting Tarja to rap next.

4) Love To Hate - Another dramatic piano opening, kind of reminded me of The Boomtown Rats but without a scruffy, sanctimonious bastard who wanted to save the world yet couldn't keep his Mrs on a leash. Musically competent with some nice mixes of the orchestral and electronic. Really good song.

5) Supremacy - A cover of a song by a band called Muse, it's ok. Pretty much another bands song played as straight-up symphonic metal. Should get the crowd going at Dynamo, Wacken or whatever the big Euro Metal Festival is these days.

6) Living End - Acoustic guitar with a vocal melody that's not only higher than a mountain goat, but the dog from three doors down is joining in with! Again, we have a competent song which isn't as overdone or have as many unwanted additions as previous songs. Sounds like there may be bagpipes on here, but instead of drowning stuff out, they complement things nicely.

7) Diva - The classical training really comes into it on here. Soaring opera vocals which sound cool. The rest of the song is very well done with orchestral effects and some really good drumming too. It certainly conjures up dramatic images. The music video to this would be an extravaganza, for sure.

8) Eagle Eye -  Competent rocker but a bit pedestrian compared to the previous two songs. Sounds like something that would get played at a sporting event or as the backing music on a sports show highlight reel. Heh, it might even make it into an aftershave commercial which would have been narrated by Tommy Vance if he was still alive.

9) Undertaker - Not a cover of the theme of the legendary WWE wrestler of the same name, but another competent slice of Euro metal for people who like their orchestras to have electric guitars. Not too shabby.

10) Calling From The Wild - Clean picked guitar opening along with some great vocal melodies soon becomes a crunchy guitar riff with some operatic-like vocal stabs. This is a really good song too. Not really much else to say about it.

11) Too Many - Twelve minutes long, oh hell...mind, there have been plenty songs which go on for long amounts of time and it doesn't do them any harm.  "2112" by Rush, "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk, and practically anything off "Hammerheart" by Bathory. It's certainly a grand spectacle, very well put together and more proof that Tarja and her backing band are extremely talented at what they do. But does it need to be over twelve minutes long? Yup, as there is a 'hidden bonus track' called "This Is A Hit Song" which is amusing enough.

So whilst this album wasn't as bad as I thought, it's certainly something that's not going to find it's way into my regular play-list, but anyone who likes their metal symphonic and their vocals operatic would certainly garner some enjoyment out of this. Some of the songs sound a bit disjointed like there's been some bits put in there that didn't need to be. Other than that, it's good.

7/10 This is good and well worth a check.

Chris J.

Top Track: Diva.

This album is available on iTunes.

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