Tarja Turunen
What Lies Beneath


3.0
good

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
August 31st, 2010 | 31 replies | 17,361 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An improvement upon an established sound that still stubbornly refuses to progress

There’s no denying that the songs on What Lies Beneath are a stark contrast to the disjointed and ill-conceived tracks that comprised My Winter Storm. As a matter of fact, the majority of the songs on Tarja Turunen’s latest solo effort are interesting enough to hold your attention for the entire running time of the album- an achievement in and of itself considering the highly repetitive and one-dimensional sound Turunen has plastered upon herself- despite the presence of a few questionable moments. The ballads shine, the guest appearances (for the most part) impress, and the aura about What Lies Beneath is distinctly Tarja, from the high points to the low points.

When everything is running as a cohesive unit, the album rolls forth with a whole mountain of momentum behind it, and by the end of the second track “Until My Last Breath” things are looking good for the remainder of the album, despite the truly awful opener “Anteroom Of Death” in which Tarja and the vocalists from Van Canto sing together in a theater-esque piece that sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of both quality and atmosphere. However, the real beauty comes when she sticks to what she does best- use her operatic vocals to drive the atmosphere of the song, instead of using it to compliment an instrumental base. On tracks like “I Feel Immortal”, “Underneath”, and “Rivers Of Lust”, the more controlled pace comes through as crucial, fueling both emotional and harmonious vocals and backing musicianship that doesn’t try to take away anything from Turunen’s singing.

Despite this focus on what Tarja does best, the album suffers gravely from stagnation. With nine of the eleven tracks running between four and five minutes, and only two different types of songs to choose from (either slower ballads or more aggressive, guitar-driven tracks), a sense of deja vu begins to form by the heart of the album, and it doesn’t seem to fade away until the last seconds of “Crimson Deep” tick away. The guest appearances by Phil Labonte, Joe Satriani, Will Calhoun and Van Canto all work to give each track a sense of individuality, but their performances do not drive away the fact that Tarja’s style is still one-dimensional. The screams of Labonte at the tail end of “Dark Star” add a vicious bite to an album that seemed to lack such aggression, contrasting his singing earlier in the same song, and the wailing guitar solo of Satriani is nothing short of impressive, but these moments all take a back seat to the main show- Tarja giving the listener a vocal display that, to be quite frank, has never changed since she first came on the music scene with Nightwish.

In the end, What Lies Beneath is an enjoyable album; nothing more, nothing less. It is certainly head and shoulders above My Winter Storm, and it shows that Turunen still has a lot left in her, despite a motif that has, at this point, been spread far too thin. If, maybe, Tarja figured out a way to use her obvious vocal talent in a way that is more creative and less predictable, then she will release something worth admiring for many years to come. However, as it stands with What Lies Beneath, the music is a cleverly disguised one-trick pony that is undeniably enjoyable to listen to, but is an album that the test of time is sure to swallow in its wake.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

So there you have it, Tarja singing the same old stuff yet again. I actually enjoyed it this time, though.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



17920 Comments


what lies beneath all the makeup

a fairly unattractive woman!

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Agreed there, I don't know why people think she is so hot, especially now. She used to look good when she started with Nightwish but I don't know about now.

Poet
September 1st 2010



5922 Comments


I am expect Balls to come in start yelling for that comment. I don't think she's that good looking either.

And I don't know if I want to hear this after the horrific attempt of music on the last album. I may just listen to the Van Canto song for the lols

Ire
September 1st 2010



41754 Comments


She sang in a power metal band.

so hot

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Look into Dark Star and Rivers of Lust as well, they are both pretty good songs. Anteroom of Death sucks so hard though.

And I'm expecting Balls to show up here any moment now.

taroo
September 1st 2010



2126 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha... I listening to it now
I agree Anteroom of Death sucked. I'm on Dark Star, pretty cool song... expecting the album to be no more then a 3.5

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



28420 Comments


whoa this looks right up my alley life bring the noise

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

academy likes the harsh noizz

pizzamachine
September 1st 2010



12571 Comments


"It is certainly head and shoulders above My Winter Storm"

In that case I'll love this album because I thought her last was great.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



8327 Comments


Excellent review Crysis. Not interested in this, however.

Piglet
September 1st 2010



4653 Comments


For a second I thought Crysis was reviewing something not metal, then I realised it was Crysis

jingledeath
September 1st 2010



7104 Comments


what Magnus said

Willie
Moderator
September 1st 2010



15908 Comments


I've never understood Tarja's appeal musically or physically. Good review, though.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's like when a female breaks into any male-dominated thing, Willie, they just seem to explode no matter how mediocre they may be.

Jingle and Magnus- Thanks, this doesn't seem like your thing anyway.

For a second I thought Crysis was reviewing something not metal, then I realised it was Crysis

You know me too well.

BallsToTheWall
September 1st 2010



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome.


Still good looking and tunes are even better than the last album.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The tunes are definitely better than the last album.

BallsToTheWall
September 1st 2010



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Video for UMLB is epic.

Apollo
September 1st 2010



10287 Comments


I'm kinda stoked to check this out. Love me some Nightwish.

Zombicidal
September 2nd 2010



15 Comments


I'll check this out in the near future, though I'm not a huge fan of her previous solo work. Then again, this is supposedly better. Good review, man.



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