Title: In The Raw
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Release Date: 30th August 2019
Label: earMUSIC / Edel
It feels as if TARJA permanently releases a new album, but her last solo album is already three years old. Time for something new: “Gold, we think, is something polished and perfect, sophisticated, a luxury - but in its natural state it’s a raw element”, explains TARJA. The lyrics have a deeper and personal approach and really demand your attention, something that can be seen as a real progress on her way from “Ex-Nightwish-Vocalist” to her own solo career. Coming to the lyrics, they seemed so important to TARJA that they even came with the promo-kit, which is quite unusual.
The album starts with ‘Dead Promises’ with Bjorn “Speed” Strid of SOILWORK on guest-vocals, the thundering guitars going straight in your ears, Bjorn’s clear voice and solid growls, combined with TARJA’s enormous voice making the song a perfect opener. ‘Goodbye Stranger’ with LACUNA COIL’s Cristina Scabbia as a guest vocalist follows straight. The Swinging mood suiting TARJA’s voice better than the enormous guitar work on the opener that nearly stole her the show. The only disappointment is, that Cristina’s parts sometimes are nearly swallowed by the background orchestra.
‘Tears in Rai’” is clearly written for airplay a rather “light” song, with some nice guitar work but obviously arranged TARJA’s voice. ‘Railroads’ is a typical “Tarja power ballad” with a good performance of her amazing Soprano, steady and present support her voice and solid guitar work, that is sometimes heavily overlaid by the omnipresent strings. ‘You and I’ is TARJA at her best because her voice sounds nearly natural and unrestrained and you might get a short glimpse at what “raw” can be. The song is underlaid with strong pianos and decent but vivacious violins supporting the mood and TARJA’s voice without sounding artificial or overdosed.
You immediately wish for more songs like ‘You and I’ but ‘The Golden Chamber’ will totally let you down. The song is divided into three parts and seems to aim at being an epic movie soundtrack, but it fails. There is lots of music, effects and instruments, but neither voice nor instruments wake any associations or emotions. The only highlight of the song is, that you can hear TARJA sing in her mother-tongue: Finnish, which is a challenge for vocalists used to performing in English, but obviously not for TARJA. ‘Spirit Of The Sea’ is one of the heavier songs and sounds a bit like a folkloristic approach towards Grunge and Doom and you might feel inclined to press skip after what feels like a never-ending intro.
‘Silent Masquerade’ starts with a nice spoken word intro underlaid by pianos, followed by with fantastic guitar work. The song really compensates for the low performance of the two previous songs. It’s a highlight on the album and KAMELOT’s vocalist Tommy Karevik as a duet-partner is the perfect choice for this song. ‘Serene’ has nice and powerful guitar riffing, definitely a song for the fans at a live-show, to stomp and rock along. ‘Shadow Play’ sees you off with an epic orchestral arrangement but seems to be overdosed in every aspect. Halfway down the road you will find a nice heavier part with solid guitar work abruptly ended by soft pianos followed by TARJA’s Soprano, the outro once more is orchestral and epic.
With this album TARJA once more worked with her trusted team and band, the result is a nice album, showing that TARJA wants to keep it safe. Everything is arranged around her voice, with a little excursion into heavier guitars, the guest vocalists were carefully selected and add real rock and metal quality to the album. TARJA’s voice was never better than on this solo-album, her crew did a solid job, music, orchestral-parts and arrangements are solid and flawless. The album starts fantastic and you get the idea, that she started a new heavier approach presenting her voice as one of the best female Metal vocalists again, but in the middle of the album you will realize that once again the combination of a Metal and Classic album doesn’t work out. You can either like or dislike TARJA, if you like her, the album is a nice addition to your collection.
01. Dead Promises with Björn “Speed” Strid
02. Goodbye Stranger with Cristina Scabbia
03. Tears In Rain
05. You And I
06. The Golden Chamber
08. Loputon yö
10. Spirits Of The Sea
11. Silent Masquerade with Tommy Karevik
13. Shadow Play
Total: 7 / 10