I don’t think there are any metalheads who don’t know the Finnish queen of symphonic metal Tarja Turunen. She grew to fame as the vocalist of the popular Nightwish. Once they parted ways she focused more on her solo work. Quite a chunk of that was less heavy and more towards her classical training as a singer. There were some symphonic metal and rock releases in the past and there is another one coming on August 5th, The Shadow Self. But if the wait is too long for the fans, she released an EP with some collaborations and songs that didn’t make the upcoming full release. This preview, The Brightest Void, contains 9 tracks and gives you a good idea of what to expect soon…
The EP opens with the video clip version of No Better End, which opens with a great heavy guitar riff and some operatic voice work by Tarja. She toned down the use of a really classical opera voice though in this song and on most of the album. But with her great range she manages to create a sound that is maybe a bit more accessible than before. If the rest of the upcoming album goes in this direction, her fans won’t have much to complain anyway. The second song Your Heaven and Your Hell is one of my personal favorites and a collaboration with Finnish glam rock king Michael Monroe. At first you’d think this would be a weird combination, but the two royalties seem like a match made in heaven. This high paced song has a huge rock ‘n’ roll touch and the devilish sounding Michael and angelic voice of Tarja works incredibly well. Also the addition of the harmonica is a great surprise.
The third song, Eagle Eye, keeps the heaviness going and she kept it interesting with the addition of a few more guest artists. For this song she had one of the best drummers in the world to count on: no one less than RHCP‘s own Chad Smith! Besides him, there’s her little brother Toni Turunen who comes to show that having a great set of lungs is apparently something in the family over there. The combination of heaviness and emotional melody is one of the trademark symphonic metal characteristics and it’s performed to perfection here.
The greatness of the first third of the album gets a bit of a bump for me with An Empty Dream and Witch-Hunt. Don’t get me wrong, the songs are definitely not bad. But after everything that was going on in the songs before, these songs are a bit forgettable. They’re slower and more emotional songs, with no guitars in sight, taking me a bit out of the mood that they earlier created. In another context I might have liked the minimal electro inspired songs maybe more.
With Shameless they pick up what they were doing earlier again. Tarja opens up her range for this song and puts in some more of her impressive vocal capacities. A very going song that sounds pretty catchy to me, ending in an explosion of energy, bombast and power (with some grunts/harsh shouting even).
The third part of the EP gets filled in with 2 covers that actually fit in with most of the EP more than those 2 earlier mentioned songs. First Tarja tackles a Paul McCartney song with House of Wax, a mostly piano-driven song that creates a tense and haunting atmosphere. Next is again some more bombast with movie classic Goldfinger. Of course Tarja‘s voice is perfect for movie music and the combination of orchestra and heavy metal music is something that always has been a big love of me. And it’s just one of those perfect marriages that never seem to go wrong. Last song is the little treat Paradise (What About Us?) from 3 years ago that got brushed up and remixed a bit. The combination of two of the greatest voice of symphonic metal and rock, Tarja Turunen and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), was a brilliant idea back then. And it is still is, with a wonderful catchy chorus you’ll be humming along quite soon.
Not a bad preview for the upcoming album I must say. Even the songs that were a bit less to my taste were still of a quite high quality. If you’re curious to what didn’t make it to the full album or a big fan of symphonic female fronted metal and rock, just get this EP. A great way to reward the longtime fans and tease for the upcoming release. 7/10 for this little gift.
Release date: June 3rd, 2016
1. No Bitter End (video clip version)
2. Your Heaven and Your Hell (ft. Michael Monroe)
3. Eagle Eye (ft. Toni Turunen & Chad Smith on drums)
4. An Empty Dream
7. House of Wax (Paul McCartney cover)
8. Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey cover)
9. Paradise (What About Us?) (ft. Within Temptation)