Released by: earMusic
Release Date: August 5th, 2016
Genre: Symphonic Rock/Metal
02. Demons In You (feat. ARCH ENEMY’s Alissa White-Gluz)
03. No Bitter End
04. Love To Hate
06. The Living End
08. Eagle Eye
10. Calling From The Wild
11. Too Many
The wait is over and now Tarja Turunen’s album ‘The Shadow Self’ is out under Earmusic on August 5, 2016. It wasn’t too long ago when she released the prequel, ‘The Brightest Void’ this past June. The Finnish vocalist that many have fallen in love with during her time with Nightwish has made an iconic name for herself over the years where many refer to her as the Symphonic Metal Queen. Since her departure from the Symphonic Metal band Nightwish, she managed to create her own music that combines elements ranging from Classical to Metal and ‘The Shadow Self’ is her heaviest one yet.
To promote the release of this album Tarja and Earmusic released three (out of four) YouTube clips explaining the album. I thought the first video was the most interesting which you can see here. Tarja explained the influence behind ‘The Shadow Self’ and how the title of the album came from viewing old interviews and clips of Annie Lennox when Lennox once described that every one’s dark side is referred to as “The Shadow Self.” Tarja explained, “Every one of us has a dark side that we should appreciate that it exists. Artists get inspiration from our dark side. We write dark songs and use it for help.” She elaborated how despite being a positive person, she does have her own dark side and this album including the Prequel, ‘The Brightest Void’ captures her “beautiful darkness.” Despite the record having different themes on nature and her own personal situations, Tarja mentioned, “Everyone can find a connection with our emotions in these songs. We have that darkness in us, and many of us don’t know why we act differently in certain situations. To understand it is like a journey that you should do inside of you.”
The album classically opens up with “Innocence” as the piano dramatically flows to an instant engagement. After the introduction, it moves towards a Symphonic Metal style, as you will continue to be glued to this track. Tarja’s voice opens up with emotive lyrics, “you are not alone,” as though we are not the only one’s suffering from personal sadness, struggles, and torments. The lyrics continue to speak of wisdom where you would want to climb over your own darkness such as “You and me breathe to ignite the reason, freedom, scream again.” Musically it shifts back and forth from the heavier Rock sound to the similar classical melody. The style changes with “Demons” that features Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz vocals. It starts off with a more Progressive Rock meets a Funk Jam as it slowly molds into a heavier tune. The lyrics speak about getting lost in the light and fear of losing one’s personal battles. It embraces the feeling of being lost as the demons inside of yourself grows and forever haunts you which is described in the lyrics, “madness and desperation endorsed with anger.” The mixed vocals between Alissa and Tarja are well placed together as though it demonstrates the said battles. The next song “No Bitter End” was featured in ‘The Brightest Void’ where being placed as the third track here seems fitting.
Moving back to a Classical introduction with the next “Love To Hate,” however, it is darker than the prior. Tarja powerfully sings with strong lyrics such as “Shapes of fear stained your life,” “numb within the sadness,” and “search within the empty words, the answers you will find at the end.” It is a well-constructed song and one of my favorites, as Tarja continues to sing about pain, sadness, and loss of hope. The instrumentals follow her leading vocals that include a few aggressive guitar riffs. Next up is the Muse cover “Supremacy,” which Tarja makes it her own that you forget it is a cover piece. Depressing themes continue to the next, “The Living End,” especially from its morbidly soothing introduction. She does mention about devotion, whether it’s a spiritual or romantic one, could be interpreted for the listeners and perhaps their own mood.
As the album is about halfway through, Tarja shows more of her theatrical side in “Diva.” It opens up with sounds from the beach and theatrically and beautifully transcends. There are parts where I think it reveals anger as though she is stuck searching for a key to finding an escape. Moving away from the theater as “Eagle Eye” enters with mixing sounds of a piano and light ambiances as grows heavier. What stands out the most about this tune is it simultaneously brings a sad and romantic emotion. Darkness continues with “Undertaker” and “Calling From the Wild,” both of these hold out a depressive aggression which at this point the album is one of Tarja’s darkest and heaviest solo works thus far.
Finally, “Too Many” concludes the album and this is my favorite song off of it. It is beautifully composed with hidden detailed layers that can be considered as hauntingly chanting. The repetition parts are what is most interesting to me and after listening to it, you either want to hear it again or start the album from the beginning once more. Later on in this track, there is a dark and heavier surprise that does not sound like Tarja at all.
It is proven with ‘The Shadow Self’ that Tarja has exquisitely matured over the years. This is perhaps her most polished and thoughtful album thus far, and the fact that it is her heaviest piece leaves little room for much disappointment.
Written By: Zenae D. Zukowski