Review Summary: well it's better than emmure
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of Tarja, and will probably be one for as long as she's releasing music. Naturally, I approached this album expecting good things. Unfortunately, said things are more or less overshadowed by several major problems. I'll get right to the biggest one: Colours in the Dark is painfully simplistic. At some point after releasing What Lies Beneath, Tarja must have decided that density is, in fact, a bad thing in music, and that every song on her new album must therefore contain at least two minutes of repetition, otherwise it will demand too much from the listener. All songs here follow a very similar formula, and there isn't a single one which doesn't play the chorus at least three times. An album for which these things apply could still be decent, if there are enough unique and interesting moments in between, but there aren't. In terms of substance, this feels a lot like a pop album, something that is easily understood, but doesn't hold up to several listens. It's hard for me to call this anything but lazy songwriting. A lot of people didn't like My Winter Storm, but if you took a random track off that record, at least there's a good chance that you haven't heard everything of substance after 3 minutes.
Another problem is the increasing integration of heavy elements into the music. This isn't new in Colours, it's actually something that's been more and more distinctive with every consequent release, but it's most noticeable here. I just don't think heavy music is what Tarja is good at, and if there's an album which demonstrates that, it's this one. Colours is at its worst whenever it's trying to be heavy, and the more tolerable songs are the ones that focus solely on the softer and more melodic side, and are pretty much just a framing device for her voice, like „Lucid Dreamer“ or „Until Silence“. The absolute worst song on this album (and probably in Tarja's entire discography) is „Never Enough," on which a single riff is repeated a ridiculous amount of times, creating a sound which is indeed heavy, but gets boring after less than twenty seconds. It fits the title in a really sad way.
I also have to mention the drumming, and man is it boring. There is just nothing going on. I'm not a drummer myself, but I'd be surprised if any of it was technically difficult or interesting. I swear that it wasn't as bad on What Lies Beneath. Other problems are a certain amount of predictability, and a serious lack of variety, though these are more easily overlooked.
The one track that does deserve some praise is the finale, „Medusa“. It manages to be simultaneously the longest, the most tightly packed, the least conventional, the most complex, and all in all easily the best song on the album. It's no exception from the „play the chorus at least 3 times rule,” but it's less annoying here, for one because of the change up in lyrics, but also because of the attendance of a guest singer. Even the instrumental passages are quite beautiful. Sadly, this is the only track from the entire album that I can really recommend.
Now, I could say something about the singing being impeccable and the fact that I still love her voice, but really, that has never been the problem, and if you have read any positive reviews for a Tarja album, you are probably tired of hearing it at this point. It does save the album from being terrible, but overall it's still a big disappointment. Tarja herself has stated that she has taken bold leaps with this record, and that it's her most personal release so far. I'm yet to discover any of said leaps, but until I do, I'm going to conclude that this is worse than What Lies Beneath in pretty much every way.