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Tarja - My winter storm 3.5/5

Reviewed: 1-25-08


1. Ite, missa est
2. I walk alone
3. Lost northern star
4. Seeking for the reign
5. The reign
6. The escape of the doll
7. My little phoenix
8. Boy and the ghost
9. Sing for me
10. Oasis
11. Poison
12. Our great divide
13. Sunset
14. Damned and divine
15. Die alive
16. Minor heaven
17. Ciaran's well
18. Calling grace

When I first learned that Nightwish had fired their long-time female vocalist Tarja Turunen (after their CD 'Once'), one of the things that immediately entered my mind was the wondering of whether or not she'd stay in the world of metal. So I was eager to pick up her late-2006 debut 'Henkays ikuisuudesta', but unfortunetly that CD contains a wide variety of rock/metal styles, a handful of Christmas songs, and even Tarja mixed up her vocal delivery quite a bit. Not to mention, half of the songs weren't sung in English. Although the CD has some good songs (especially if you're listening to it during the Christmas holiday), it's an overall mixed bag and doesn't get a lot of spins.

Thankfully, Tarja's follow-up 'My winter storm' is much more focused. I'd call it atmospheric/symphonic metal, but some of the songs are without guitars and there are a few spots where it feels like I'm listening to a film score. As for the production, it's awesome; crystal clear at the softer parts and very powerful at the heavier parts. There's a slight gothic feel at times, but overall this is not a dark CD, and the best band comparisons would be Within Temptation, Xandria and Delain, but I must emphasize that these bands only come to mind when the CD is at its heaviest.

As for Tarja, wow! She sounds wonderful, soothing, warm, emotional and simply flawless. In fact, this just might be her best vocal performance to date. She doesn't enter the operatic zone very much (compared to her performances on the earliest Nightwish CDs), but her voice is nothing short of magical and it's a true pleasure to listen to her sing.

'My winter storm' offers up 18 songs, though none of them are very long, so the CD stays within a reasonable length. As previously mentioned, there are slow songs and also heavier ones. The beautiful track 5 "The reign", the dramatic track 8 "Boy and the ghost" and the heavenly track 12 "Our great divide" are all magnificent slow songs in line with some of the slow songs from the Nightwish CDs she's a part of. As for the heavier side, track 2 "I walk alone", track 15 "Die alive" and track 17 "Ciaran's well" (which recalls some of Nightwish's 'Once' material) are probably the best.

Not everything is positive with 'My winter storm' though. For one, she's turned Alice Cooper's "Poison" into a bouncy symphonic/gothic metal cover that's completely out of place and very different from the remainder of the CD. This awful song is right in the middle of the CD too, and to be quite honest, it's irritating as hell. I now "skip" that song to avoid punching the wall everytime I listen to the CD (hehehe... I'm just kidding). Also, while I can easily listen to this (as I love listening to Tarja), the CD overall is going to be much too slow for today's typical metalhead and I can only recommend it to major lovers of Tarja's voice.

Personally, I'm happy Tarja has decided to stay inside the world of metal, as I was really afraid she'd venture off to a distant genre. But I must say that lately it's felt like many metal fans have forgotten what Tarja has done for metal and she seems to be a very under-appreciated vocalist. I just checked my CD collection and I have nearly 250 CDs that are female fronted, and 98% of them were released after 1997, when Nightwish entered the metal world with the amazing Tarja. Is it coincidence that we've been bombarded with female fronted bands since then? I think not, and because of the hype with Nightwish's first CD without Tarja ('Dark passion play'), I wonder if fans are judging Tarja's solo attempt in a negative way before actually "listening" to this CD and giving it a fair chance. I realize I just stated that it has too many slow songs and is not heavy/metal enough (for most metal fans), but slow CDs need to be given time to sink in. So I decided to listen to this for what it is, not what Nightwish was, and it's become very enjoyable. Oh, and keep in mind, Tarja remains my favorite female vocalist in metal.




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