Review by Brian Kelman
© Ethereal Metal Webzine
It appears that I’m 5 and half years behind the times, but I
thought I’d review Tarja’s My Winter Storm anyway.
Treat yourself to Tarja’s excellent debut album, My Winter
Storm (MWS) Fan Edition (which includes an added CD of new material, remixes
and live performances): an eclectic journey in sound artistically fusing
rock/metal and classical music complimenting one of the finest singing voices
in the world of entertainment. This CD is a pleasure to listen to. Over and
MWS defies easy classification. Tarja took the familiar of
two seemingly distinct worlds, classical and rock/metal, and blended them into
a unique balance between them. It is a balance she achieves with ease.
MWS is a departure from her past. To compare the music she
made with the Symphonic Power Metal band Nightwish with Tarja’s solo musical
vision on MWS is to compare apples and oranges. If you are looking for a
Nightwish imitation or parody you’ll be disappointed.
It is a common mistake by the uninitiated to confuse Tarja’s
classical vocals with opera. From the age of fifteen (1992) Tarja has formally
studied classical voice and music in her native Finland and Germany. She first
attended the Senior Secondary School of Art and Music (1992-1996). While Tarja
was performing and recording with Nightwish (1997-2005), she studied church
music and classical singing at the Sibelius Academy (1996-2000) and studied
classical voice and piano at the Music University of Karlsruhe in Germany
Although Tarja has appeared twice at the Savonlinna Opera
Festival in Finland (the ‘Voice of Finland’ and an alumnus who has become an
international recording star is welcome everywhere in her native land, even if
it is outside her formal training), she is not and never has been considered an
opera singer nor formally trained as one. As a classical singer Tarja has
performed on two tours in Europe and South America singing classical German
Lied. Tarja has also worked as a soloist with orchestras and choirs around the
“It’s all about the emotion and if you can give that
emotion to the people then you have definitely the gift”–Tarja, 2007
As for Tarja’s instrument (her voice) on MWS, the full lyric
soprano with a range of at least 3 octaves not only shines….but soars.
Whether she is a singing a classically inspired ballad accompanied by an
orchestra and/or piano, Oasis and The
Reign, or rocking and headbanging on Die Alive and Ciaran’s Well, or in between
with I Walk Alone and Boy And The Ghost, Tarja’s gift is on full display
through the melodic power and passion of her instrument.
If there is a problem with MWS, it is with the guitars.
Tarja’s musical vision sees contrast between and fusion of classical elements
(her voice, the cello, and the orchestras and choirs) with punchy heavy guitars
with an ‘edge’. Producer Daniel Presley either didn’t understand Tarja’s vision
for a heavy guitar sound or he didn’t listen and went ahead with what he
thought they should sound like. The result is that he took the ‘edge off’ and
smoothed out the guitar sound. As a result of this, the heaviness is lacking
and the classical influences seem to be more to the forefront. If you want to
hear what the guitars should have been produced to sound like, listen to
Ciaran’s Well [Live] on the bonus disc. It’s Metal to the core.
Over her entire career, Tarja Turunen has been at the
forefront of innovation and reinvention of the Metal genre in general and the
fusion of Metal/Classical sub-genre in particular. My Winter Storm represents
the dawning of new era of innovation and the establishment of a new boundaries
between the worlds of Classical and Rock/Metal courtesy of Tarja Turunen.
Overall Rating: 4.4/5