Overall Score: 9/10 Symphonic energy: 9/10 Vocal range: 10/10 Conceptual value: 8/10 Pros: Jaw-droppingly profound Cons: Some track concepts are hit-and-miss
Tarja Turunen’s fifth solo venture ‘The Shadow Self’ sheds a stunning new light on her endless talents.
The fluid composition of ‘The Shadow Self’ stands to prove why this ex-Nightwish frontlady now stands on her own two feet – a liberated stream of creativity courses through a collection of towering atmospherics colliding with the voice of a symphonic angel.
For its scene-setting grandeur, opener ‘Innocence’ plants masterful grinding alongside Tarja’s timeless heavenly notes and only lets itself down with an elaborate piano that slightly outstays its welcome. However, the pensive ‘The Living End’ puts on an eventless display like the lacklustre fairground in the misguided ‘Diva’, but these are the only detrimental moments on offer.
Authoritative and seductive in equally destructive measure, nothing can prepare you for the skin-searing top notes of ‘Supremacy’ and the captivating electric interlude amid the sinister ‘Undertaker’. With the horizon in its sight, ‘Eagle Eye’ adds a refreshing vocal depth in the form of Tarja’s equally talented younger brother Toni that seals the deal for this showcase.
Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz makes a visceral, gluttonous contribution to the contrasting twanging energy of ‘Demons in You’, by far the darkest fruit in this bunch. ‘Love to Hate’ takes silver, however, laced with livid loathing and closes with heartbreaking sorrow in the most captivating manner (and perhaps a sly nod to David Bowie’s Labyrinth) – “Who do you think you are? I gave you the stars.”
Closing in the only way possible, epic farewell ‘Too Many’ scrapes the 12-minute mark and uses its closing seconds to leave Tarja’s vocals isolated on centre stage. In such a raw proximity, these breathtaking moments slowly drape the curtain on an outstanding album.
‘The Shadow Self’ safely cements Tarja Turunen’s priceless value to the symphonic metal genre – this ecclesiastical songstress is nowhere near finished.
The Shadow Self is out now on earMUSIC.