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Tarja - What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 18 September 2010, 11:09 AM

Tarja's previous release "My Winter Storm" was reviewed for METAL TEMPLE as a non-Metal album just for the sake of her Metal past with NIGHTWISH. Not that it was a bad album; on the contrary, Tarja showed her intentions to produce something different, and to some extent she did, taking also into consideration the success of the tour that followed. So, Tarja is back again with a new album founding myself wondering about the musical direction and the level of metal-iness.

"Anteroom Of Death" is the album opener featuring an enticing mood up-lifting atmosphere. The almost renaissance keyboard melodies give the podium to the guitars that sound heavy joining Tarja's operating and definitely trademark vocals. During the middle, the song takes a killer twist presenting the first guest appearance for the album that is from the vocal band VAN CANTO that really spice things up with multi-vocal lines. Although Tarja has been around the Metal scene for quite some time, "What Lies Beneath" sounds mature and 100% focused without losing time in music explorations or experimentation. "Until My Last Breath" sounds fresh although there is a distinct NIGHTWISH essence all around leaving aside the over-pompous arrangements but with some pretty heavy down tuned guitar riffs.

The additional heaviness has left intact Tarja's mainstream finishing touches similar to those presented in the previous album. And this means some keyboard groove and electronic sounds in the back that keep the compositions simple, catchy and easy to listen to. Additionally, the symphonic arrangements are kept minimal being just enough to support Tarja's operatic moments where the listener can enjoy her -always- impressive range. The perfect example for this saying is "In For The Kill" where the mid tempo guitar groove exchanges roles with the nice orchestrations, making a really solid rhythm section. Phil Labonte from ALL THAT REMAINS does a fitting vocal appearance in "Dark Star", a track that also features some very cool APOCALYPTICA sounding cellos. In the catchy and sing-along "I Am Falling Awake" (is there an EVANESCENCE groove here?) guitar mastermind Joe Satriani throws some nice phrases and a trademark solo (love the hammer-ons and pull-offs here) bearing his signature sound.

As always Tarja does an impressive job in the slower more sentimental songs like "Crimson Deep" (Will Calhoun from LIVING COLOUR is sitting behind the drum kit), "We Are" and "Naiad" with the nice AYREON-sounding keyboards. That latter two songs come as bonus tracks in the deluxe edition of the album that also comes with a cover song on WHITESNAKE's "Still Of The Night". I don't know who is responsible for choosing this track because it clearly does not fit Tarja's voice just like the other cover on ALICE COOPER's "Poison" in the previous album. Songs like these are meant for male vocals and are already sung from two characteristic voices whose timber has nothing to do with Tarja. Fortunately, this time the cover song is a bonus track and is not included in the regular version, so, it can be neglected.

Bottom line is that Tarja shows something different here with additional heavy elements that will put this CD under the "Heavy Metal" releases without too many second thoughts. With such a solid lineup, Tarja is capable to continue her solo career and dream of the time when the NIGHTWISH name will be just mentioned in her biography data. Until then, you can enjoy it far better than "My Winter Storm" album and hope for a live date near or in your home town.

3 Star Rating

Disc 1:
  1. Anteroom Of Death
  2. Until My Last Breath
  3. Dark Star
  4. Underneath
  5. Little Lies
  6. Rivers Of Lust
  7. In For A Kill
  8. Falling Awake
  9. The Archive Of Lost Dreams
  10. Crimson Deep
Disc 2:
  1. We Are
  2. Naiad
  3. Still Of The Night
Tarja Turunen - Vocals, Piano
Alex Scholpp - Guitars
Marzi Nyman - Guitars
Doug Wimbish - Bass
Mike Terrana - Drums
Christian Kretschmar - Keyboards, Hammond Organ
Max Lilja - Cello
Record Label: Vertigo Records


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