(9/10) A few days ago Tarja published "The Shadow Self" which is the second album of this double-header release package that features next to the current longplayer also "The Brightest Void" which is in the record stores since a few weeks.
"The Brightest Void" was a good album that was meant to be a warming-up for the secong one and I had my doubts of the Finnish soprano could notch up her performance. To say it loud and clear - yes, she could. "The Shadow Self" became, at least in my humble opinion, the strongest and best album the singer released up till today. This longplayer will enable her to leave the constant Nighwish comparisons far behind and "The Shadow Self" has enough own identity and maturity to stand on its own on strong feet.
As mentioned in some earlier reviews, I'm not the biggest fan of classic opera vocals combined with heavy guitar riffs. The contrast is too big which means that it's hard to create songs that stand like a rock.
However, Tarja teaches me better. "The Shadow Self" includes heavily downtuned guitars with a very modern riffing. For a few moments I was reminded even of bands like Lacuna Coil when I listened to the intense opener "Innocence". But it's not only the guitars that positively surprised me. Tarja's vocals are a perfect match and the vocallines contribute to the songs itself rather than showing the etire potetial of the singers impressive soprano. This entire song became not less than a masterpiece of female fronted metal with hardness when needed and bombastic pianos as a counterpart, all enriched by outstanding vocals and a dark vibe.
Song two comes with some unexpected elements. What a funky start of a track that develops into a riff monster with a catchy chorus. And it's the moment when Arch Enemey's Alissa White-Gluz adds some vocals/grunts. Doing this was a masterstroke, not only because the song becomes very dynamic; it might be also the opener of "The Shadow Self" for metalheads that maybe left Tarja albums aside up till now. The triple that kicks-off the album gets completed by "No Bitter End". The general pattern stays the same but the start of the song is a very harmonic one before the earlier mentioned harsh guitars break this peaceful silence.
Also to mention "Supremecy". The song from Muse sounded already pretty good in the original version and Tarja's interpretation can easily live up to it.
A song that keeps the soulful component from beginning till end is "The Living End", a composition that, with its bagpipe support, sounds like taken from the "Highlander"-soundtrack. This tune has an epic impression and is made for Tarja's wide vocal range.
Also the ending is a melodic and harmonic one. "Too Many" is kept in a slower pace and comes without any of these furious moments I mentioned earlier. It's a beautiful rock song with good harmonies and some orchestral outburst halfway.
"The Shadow Self" is a pure ear candy - for Tarja fans as well as for music enthusiasts that could don't anything with songs from the Finn so far.
- Demons in You
- No Bitter End
- Love to Hate
- The Living End
- Eagle Eye
- Calling From the Wild
- Too Many
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Release Date EU: August 5th, 2016