Tarja Turunen
The Shadow Self


5.0
classic

Review

by Romijn USER (2 Reviews)
August 16th, 2016 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tarja Turunen's latest album The Shadow Self is her best yet. She manages to blend many different musical styles together to form a true master piece. This album surprises me on every listen.

Tarja Turunen, probably all fans of the symphonic metal genre know about her. Back in the day she was still in Nightwish Tarja was very well known for her operatic vocals. After she left the band back in 2005 she decided to move forward as a solo artist. Starting with the album My Winter Storm (not counting her classical album Henkäys ikuisuudesta) and concluding with 2013’s Colours in the Dark. All of them were quite good, but always lacked something to really become special. How is that with her latest release, The Shadow Self"

The album starts off with Innocence (which she released as a single earlier). This track contains a gorgeous Chopin inspired piano solo and the heavy metal sounds from the electric guitars and drums. These blend surprisingly well together, topping it off with some very powerful vocals. A definite highlight and a great way to open up the album. The second song Demons in You is a duet with Allisa White Gluz who provided the track with growls and ‘clean’ vocals. The song starts with a funky guitar solo that slowly transitions to a heavier hard rock sound. Then the growls from Alissa and Tarja’s vocals kick in, blending together to form an interesting but hectic track. The third track (No bitter End) is a well-known song, it features on the Brightest Void and it have been released as a single earlier. The song does come with some twists, Tarja added an interesting intro and changed the bridge. This slowed down the song a bit which works surprisingly well.

The middle of the album is my favourite part. Starting with the very strong Love to Hate, which features very well written lyrics. This song is probably about someone who’s feelings have been hurt deeply and therefore build a wall around him/herself to avoid getting hurt again. The way she sang the sentences: “Who do you think you are" I gave you the stars” and “Breaking the cage, run against the flames. Distrust and bitterness. It dies today”. Really gave me goosebumps. Combine this with the great composition and production of this song. It instantly became a personal favourite.

Next up is Muse cover Supremacy, I already enjoyed the original but Tarja really managed to drag this one to the next level. Starting with perhaps the lowest vocals she has ever done while beautifully transitioning to (probably) the highest note she has ever reached. Even though I enjoyed this track a lot there is one mistake. The guitars and drums have been mixed in front of some of Tarja’s vocals. That in itself is not much of a problem, but they have been placed in front of the highest notes I have ever heard from her. Which I found to be a huge shame. The next song is called The Living End, this is actually the only ballad on the album. Although it is by no means a bad song it struck me the least of all songs. Tarja’s vocals as well as the instrumentals sounded a bit monotone compared to the rest of the album. I simply felt like it did not really fit the record. A funny fact though, is that Tarja stated she would never use bagpipes in any of her songs in a interview, because they always sound out of tone to her. She actually ended up using them in this tune and they work quite well.

Track 8 (Diva) is probably the most interesting song on the album. It got a Caribbean feel to it, mainly because of the sound effects (sea, talking sailors, etc.) and the lyrics. Singing lines like “Sweetest mutiny, ship was sinking” and “Couldn’t stand all the rats on board”. What I particularly liked about the lines is that, while having a Caribbean feel, they contain a totally different message. Some even argued they got something to do with her departure from Nightwish. I personally think the lyrics mean something broader, they are about betrayal and eventually coming in a better situation than the traitor.

From this moment on Tarja ramps the heaviness of the album up a bit. Starting with a different version of the track Eagle Eye, which already featured on The Brightest Void. Mainly the electric guitars and the drums sound heavier. The track also features Tarja’s brother Toni Turunen who supplied the song with strong vocals. This song turned out to be an interesting Hard Rock duet between two totally different but skilled vocalists. Undertaker and Calling from the Wild sound quite similar, but Tarja proves that it is not necessarily a bad thing. The first features a well-executed cello opening transitioning to a heavier sounding combination between drums, electric guitars, keyboards, cello and of course Tarja’s vocals. The latter features a very strong intro with a gently played guitar and gorgeous vocals from Tarja. Then a cool heavy electric guitar sound kicks in, which slowly transforms into a quite bombastic track. Featuring operatic vocals with a lot of electric guitars and drums.

The last song (Too Many) is a pretty strange song. It starts of as a recognisable Tarja song, but concludes as a song that does not sound like Tarja at all. It features some incredibly heavy guitar sounds and even a techno dance piece. I am not going to tell anymore about this part, but I would suggest to keep listening when the cd stops for a couple of minutes. The first six minutes features strong lyrics about letting your fears live your live instead of you living your dreams. Although the song gets quite repetitive in the end, repeating lines like: “Many too many. Living their fears. Only few won't fade away. Not too many. Facing their tears. When sunrise outshines the grey.” Tarja still manages to keep the track interesting by making use of many instrumental shifts. Unlike some of the previous tracks on the album, the message she wants to bring does not leave much room for debate.

This album kept me hooked from start to finish. It even seems to be getting better with every listen, there simply is so much going on. There are very powerful vocals, strong lyrics (which cover many psychological subjects), experimentation (Diva, Innocence, Too Many) and a great production which ties it all together. To answer the question in the first paragraph, yes. She really did manage to offer that extra something what makes her stand out and find her own niche within the genre. I would recommend this album to everyone with an open mind towards music. If you usually do not listen to heavy music, this album is a great one to start doing so.


user ratings (27)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
NineInchToolDethPark
August 16th 2016


227 Comments


Her solo work is good, but tbh I didn't expect a 5

Romijn
August 16th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Me neither but it just turned out to be a very good record.

Flugmorph
August 16th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

a 5 tho

RycheanWarrior
August 16th 2016


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Reviewers perspective: I really like power harmonies - 80s bands like Queensryche, Dokken and Iron Maiden had one thing in common to me - great lyrics, monster riffs and harmonies. Nightwish for me brought a whole dimension to the art I liked the most - the symphonic element thanks to the genius of Tuomas and the power/elegance of Tarja.

The Shadow Self for me represents her best solo album to date, top to bottom all of the songs are solid and sonically pleasing. She is getting more comfortable in her role as the leader of her band and the songwriting continues to mature and evolve. She is a classically trained lyric soprano who digs metal .. not many of those in the world mate and she continues to grow as an artist.

Rather than methodically and subjectively analyze each track, let me say this about the album as a whole - it makes more sense than Colors In The Dark. She seems more focused and unafraid to do what she does best - hit notes and runs that very few can, coupled with a tight band and musical vision that matches her gifts perfectly. I think Colors In The Dark was a necessary step in her development as an artists .. she tools chances, she went way out there and although it didn't work on many levels, it was steps that she needed to take. I would rather see someone fall flat on their face by taking a risk than someone doing the same thing version 4.27.

What make The Shadow Self so enjoyable for me is she has a crystal clear vision of what she wants to do and she nails it with the power, grace, style and harmonies that have made her a legend.

Highlights for me - Undertaker!!! (sick twisted song), Demons In You, Innocence and Love To Hate.

My favorite is Too Many - she goes way out there, fuses a bunch of different elements and does it in a way she's never done before and likely may never again.

Just my $0.02 worth, thanks for reading.

Flugmorph
August 17th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is a pretty cheap attempt at replicating nightwishs diverse sound

Romijn
August 17th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"this is a pretty cheap attempt at replicating nightwishs diverse sound"



I don't agree at all. Nightwish sound so different than this. Heck, Floor's voice is barely hearable in their latest album. They always feel the need to overflow the vocals with instruments it seems.



"

Rather than methodically and subjectively analyze each track, let me say this about the album as a whole - it makes more sense than Colors In The Dark. She seems more focused and unafraid to do what she does best - hit notes and runs that very few can, coupled with a tight band and musical vision that matches her gifts perfectly. I think Colors In The Dark was a necessary step in her development as an artists .. she tools chances, she went way out there and although it didn't work on many levels, it was steps that she needed to take. I would rather see someone fall flat on their face by taking a risk than someone doing the same thing version 4.27. "



I agree with you on this 1. Colours in the Dark seemed to be very experimental. Altough I didn't consider it to be bad at all, it amazed me a lot less than The Shadow Self.



"What make The Shadow Self so enjoyable for me is she has a crystal clear vision of what she wants to do and she nails it with the power, grace, style and harmonies that have made her a legend."

Exactly.

Flugmorph
August 17th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lol i clearly hear floors voice every time she sings thats a dumb thing to say man. as if we heard different records. its not about the band backing up the vocals but to combine everything.



and what is that cringy bonus track man, is supposed to make fun of pop music but its just so fucking bad in every way.

Romijn
August 17th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"lol i clearly hear floors voice every time she sings thats a dumb thing to say man. its not about the band backing up the vocals but to combine everything."



Ofcourse i exaggerated a bit, but i just don't like the way they put her voice in the mix. I love listening to Floor, but i just feel like they didn't use her vocal talents to the full potential. I honestly prefer Revamp, not for the music itself but her vocals are much more highlighted there.



"and what is that cringy bonus track man, is supposed to make fun of pop music but its just so fucking bad in every way."



The song isn't much indeed, but i did have a good laugh though.





Flugmorph
August 17th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

tuomas is a superior songwriter your arguments are invalid

Romijn
August 17th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"tuomas is a superior songwriter your arguments are invalid"



Well thats a strong argument...

giovanne15
August 17th 2016


2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this album is very very very good, 5 5 without doubt. exellent review

giovanne15
August 17th 2016


2 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Flugmorph

YOU ARE JEALOUS

lory1992
August 17th 2016


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0



best review on the album. really enjoyed. masterpiece !!

Flugmorph
August 18th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hahahaha the anglo american 5s are cropping up

Romijn
August 18th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"this album is very very very good, 5 5 without doubt. exellent review"



"best review on the album. really enjoyed. masterpiece !! "

Thanks.



"these new accounts aren't suspicious at all... "



Rofl





lory1992
August 18th 2016


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I just created the account to praise the review. I'm brazilian. It is regrettable that the other albums it as Colours in the Dark has gained 2.5 ...

lory1992
August 18th 2016


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

for "hater" it is difficult to accept a 5.5

Flugmorph
August 18th 2016


21073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

brasilians looooooooooove their tarja

siIverspawn
August 20th 2016


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

last album sucked. It'd be nice if this was good again, but I'm afraid to get my hopes up.



huh... we will see.

siIverspawn
August 22nd 2016


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Okay, it is better than Colours for sure, which is awesome. I was afraid it'd just get even worse after that.



I'm not sure how it compares to MWS. I'd say it's more consistent, nothing here is as bad and cheap as Until My Last Breath, but I'm not sure any song here is as good as Anteroom of Death or Crimson Deep. Although the bookends are both pretty great.



No idea what to think of the hidden track. It is funny, but after the music faded out on Too Many, I was really hoping for an epic conclusion. Instead... whelp. Lal.



Gotta give it more time to see how the tracks age. I am hopeful now, though, because it has lots of creativity and experimentation, those are the albums which tend to get better with time.



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