TARJA (Tarja Turunen) the Finnish lyrical-soprano heavy-metal singer-songwriter with a three octave range is ready to release her seventh studio album, titled “In The Raw” out on August 30, via EarMusic.
We had an early listen:
The album starts with the aphotic metal track “Dead Promises” (with Björn Strid) that brings Tarja’s plummy dark-note vocal shadings immediately to the fore as well as providing her the sweet rhythmic freedom to deliver some of her loudest musical phrases ever — but without sacrificing those piccolo-high moments.
The song begins with a rapidly articulated staccato guitar torrent, followed by a storm of thudding crashes… then through a battlefield vision, where we find moody, dystopian language and bold ambitions. “Stop running from the truth...” she pleads, among huge chords. It’s weird and wonderful, full of indivisible electric textures, and offers more dramatic potential than you’ll ever need from those beautiful low-chest notes.
The following is the sad, “Goodbye Stranger” with Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia. This has large lumps of metallic guitar. The voice is agile and secure. The rhythms are fast and sharp.
Spooky “Spirits of the Sea” is dedicated to the memory of the lost crew of the ARA San Juan and has a salty tangle of luminous shapes before the beautifully tremulous voice rises from the deep to remind us of everything that is kind and generous about the ocean. The sea-goddess will be munificent, but she will also take you down, to drag you into her depths… with a hundred monstrous arms… to bind you to her bed for all eternity. Such is her gentle wrath. Yes, she brings terror… but also harmony. And let’s never forget that souls last forever.
“Silent Masquerade” — with Tommy Karevik — has ripples of spry piano. Then pronounced chords and a growing sense of uneasiness. The guitars smoulder and bristle as the voice steps out. This is about deception and posturing, either within our own relationships or viewed globally. The song speaks of deviousness and bluff. We cannot cheat death. But we cannot cheat love either.
The stand-out suite on this album is probably “The Golden Chamber” and perhaps comes from an idea chanced-upon when she visited the Old St. Michael’s Cave, in Gibraltar. Tarja resides in Andalusia now but, of course, she comes from eastern Finland. Finland is one of the northernmost kingdoms in the world, a landscape covered by rocks, forests and fenland, and where the population experiences “Endless Nights” (where winters are 100 days long) and, as one travels into the frozen North, the sun never rises in winter — not at all — for fifty days. This season of nights is known as Loputon Yö.
But to get to a world without light, one must first venture from the golden sands of the Gulf and head towards the permanent glaciers of the Arctic. You can imagine how a journey like this — a journey from light into darkness — might bring brooding self-absorption and a sense of frightening inevitability.
But if you travel in reverse, in other words, if you make the journey from darkness and into light (for example, when you leave a cave, to find sunlight ) you get to understand the significance of chambers, tombs and bowers. Because it is only in these darkened sanctuaries that we find peace, salvation and forgiveness. We come from chambers of darkness, so we must return to them also. Thus, “Awaken” begins with the simple contemplative beauty of a meditative piano and expanding strings. The voice starts as a pencil-thin glimmer of hope. But, like the morning sun on a summer’s day, it offers desire and aspiration. “Loputon Yö” develops with baleful orchestration and spine-chilling vocals that never quite hide their malicious intent. Though, the reflective “Alchemy” is a flowering fulfillment of wonders and an explosion of gratitude.
This is an audacious, highly seductive and personal album, with nuances of self-sacrifice and mysticism. It should attract both opera lovers and metalheads. It is a work of drama and excellence and deserves more than five stars!
In The Raw by TARJA is out August 30th 2019.
Words: @neilmach 2019 ©