Out on earMUSIC on 5 August 2016 and reviewed by Angie K
It was only a couple of months ago when Tarja Turunen released a new CD, The Brightest Void, which I found to be a total delight (you can read the review here). While for most artists a new production is followed by a pause of at least a year, Tarja has decided to surprise us pretty much immediately with a follow-up album, yet another gem: The Shadow Self.
While remaining within the symphonic heavy metal genre she’s renowned for, she’s not afraid to experiment and think outside the box. This is clearly demonstrated in the track ‘Demons In You’ which brings in funk motifs (the guitar intro sounds misleadingly typical of Red Hot Chilli Peppers) followed by harsh vocals – typical of another band I recently reviewed, Deadlock (review here). Tarja’s angelic voice contrasts and is yet somehow strangely complemented by the duo with her thrash metal companion. I find this to be an experiment that can only reap rewards, being presented in as tasteful and as graceful a way as possible. She pushes the dimensions of her genre even further by introducing subtle references to Asia’s orthodox, nearly pop, prog rock (‘Eagle Eye’ – a studio version of the track from her previous album): and it all flows nicely, making you grab it all with open arms.
As in The Brightest Void, included in the album is one of James Bond’s tracks, ‘Supremacy’, with soaring crazy sky-high crying and drums gone manic: total madhouse, and oh so good. ‘Love To Hate’ is another track sounding like a typical 007 tune – only to make us smile and show us how it’s done.
As usual, Tarja delivers what she does best to the highest possible standard: perfectly composed, thought through, orchestrated and flawlessly performed heavy metal with ample classical and acoustic episodes. Right from the mind blowing title track ‘Innocence’, she grabs your attention and it seems as if you’ve listened to the entire album on an outbreath. This six-minute track captures it all: a perfect composition developed from a classical piano piece into a typical heavy metal track, eventually going back into the original beautiful classical mode.
To be expected from the genre, there is a lot of the typically epic, slow, multi-layered, beautiful metal, supplemented by Tarja’s impossible vocal heights (‘Calling From The Wild’, ‘Too Many’, ‘Love To Hate’). She does give her listeners a break as well with numerous romantic lyrical melodies. ‘The Living End’ feels like a gulp of fresh mountain air after the organised chaos of the madhouse. It oozes serenity and peace, showing us that she can do acoustic as well as anything else, her voice being the best instrument. ‘Diva’? More like a witch (or a magician in a circus/fun fair), showing off what she can do, and how well she can do it. And can we blame her for doing so!
10 out of 10
- Demons In You (with Alissa White-Gluz)
- No Bitter End
- Love To Hate
- The Living End
- Eagle Eye (with Toni Turunen) – album version
- Calling From The Wild
- Too Many