Tarja - In The Raw

Photo Credit: Tim Tronckoe

Symphonic Metal has slowly gained popularity in the North American market. Yes, we had Evanescence, but for many parts around the world there was Nightwish who made their mark in the symphonic genre with their first release in 1997. From there Nightwish has gone on to be the biggest Symphonic Metal band in the world. Their original singer Tarja Turunen left the band in 2005 to start a solo career. Tarja has toured the world playing clubs, theatres and large festivals. Her solo career consists of 4 rock albums, 2 winter albums and a classical album she put out in 2015. Her fans supported her since her first solo release in 2006 Henkäys ikuisuudesta . Now 13 years later Tarja is releasing her 6th rock album, In the Raw.

I didn’t become a fan of this style of music until 2013 when I finally found and listened to Nightwish. Realizing Tarja was the original singer, I figured I must check to see what she was up to after Nightwish. The first album I listened to was Colours in the Dark. I was impressed, but it wasn’t untill The Shadow Self in 2016 where I was absorbed in her vast range of vocals and became a fan. Picking up her blu-ray live videos to witness this ultimate symphonic queen which I knew I had to see her live. I got my first chance in 2017 when she sang 2 songs with the Sweden Rock Symphony Orchestra at Sweden Rock. The next year Tarja was back to Sweden Rock with her band which not only did I get to see, I was able to get photos from the pit.

Taken from Tarja Press Release:

“As the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold. But then again, not all that is gold necessarily glitters. It was this idea that struck Finnish singer Tarja Turunen as she began work on her seventh solo album, In the Raw.

“Gold, we think, is something polished and perfect, sophisticated, a luxury – but in its natural state it’s a raw element”, explains Tarja. Just like the music on her upcoming  album: a combination of sophisticated and refined orchestration, choir and her classically trained voice with a raw, dark heavy musical core. Simply put, In the Raw is a gold-plated work of wonder.

Three years on from her last album, 2016’s The Shadow Self, In the Raw finds Tarja and her beautiful voice sounding, as ever, truly stunning. Working with many of the same musicians and production team as before, the intention was to bring out the idea of rawness to match the feelings Tarja was having from the very beginning of the process.

The album finds Tarja going to raw, personal places in her lyrics. Opening herself up more than ever before, she says she was left feeling naked by her honesty, but also pleased at where she had gone with her words.

The first look at the album, the brand-new song “Dead Promises”, is all this and more. Matching the stunning power of Tarja’s voice with a thunderous guitar, the aggression she speaks of is brought to the front, not threatening to shatter something fragile, but reinforcing its power. “I really like how the guitar sounds: in your face,” she says. “If I’m singing powerfully, I need something powerful behind me so that I don’t feel like I am left alone.”

Fans will find that the album includes a different version of the song with guest vocals by BjörnSpeedStrid of Soilwork.

In the Raw will be released on August 30th, 2019 on earMUSIC as CD Digipak (limited print run including hardcover O-card), 2LP+Download, Limited Box Set and Digital.”

-End of Press Release

My Review of TARJA – In The Raw:

Starting the album is the first single “Dead Promises”, where Björn Strid joins Tarja on vocals. As the description above, this is a remarkable piece giving us many aspects of symphonic genre. Heavy riffs, operatic, clean and rough vocals all in one. A perfect way to start the album which brings us back to the heavier tracks of Nightwish of Tarja’s past.

Goodbye Stranger” has Tarja sharing the vocals with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. A great combination of vocal talent with some great guitar work, but mostly an upbeat pop song.

“Tears in Rain” continues the album with Tarja showing her raw emotion. Giving her fans exactly what we would expect with some great guitar work throughout and a heavier guitar solo.

Rainroads” slows the pace down of the new album which flows into the next track “You and I”. A beautiful slow track with lots of keys while showing off Tarja’s outstanding vocal range.

The Golden Chamber (Awaken-Loputon Yo-Alchemy)” is more of an instrumental symphony with Tarja expressing her operatic range and vocal prowess. Even though this may be a slow song, it is such a powerful track.

Spirits of the Sea” brings us a symphony delight showing how Tarja can do many styles.

Photo Credit: Tim Tronckoe

Silent Masquerade” with Tommy Karevik of Kamelot. As a fan of Karevik I was excited to hear how this duet would go. This song picks up the tempo on the album as both vocals are brilliant as they take us on this 7:20 journey.

“Serene” brings back the heavier riffs from the first few tracks. A terrific track that will be great to hear live as one of my favourites on the new album.

The new release closes out with “Shadow Play”. The longest tune from In the Raw which has an assortment of symphonic levels. An exquisite way to finish the best Tarja has done to date as a solo artist.

I can’t wait to get the CD in the mail to add to my Tarja collection.

Shawn “Animalize” Irwin

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