Review of Tarja’s ‘In the Raw’ Singles

Review by Ryan Murray | Aug. 15, 2019

Dead Promises

Dead promises – we all hate them. But what can they teach us? In Tarja’s new song “Dead Promises”, Tarja’s departure from symphonic metal is obvious within the first 30 seconds of this amazing track. (The heaviness kinda brings me back to Ciaran’s Well from My Winter Storm) The intro is lead guitar based. It makes me wonder if Tarja had some influence from Stratovarius during the “Nordic Symphony”. Anyway, at about :17 seconds in, the first power chord hits, and gives you an idea of what this song is made of. Just wait for it. Then the main riff, with drums, kicks in at about :46 seconds, which is where I’d imagine the pit will break out? 🙂

Tarja’s melodies in this song are extremely catchy, no surprise there. What I find most intriguing though is, for a lack of better words, the “rawness” of Tarja’s emotions throughout the melodies. I’ve been a huge fan of Tarja since about 2001, but I’ve never heard such raw emotion coming from her as I have in this song, both lyrically and melodically. This album is said to dive into the raw state of Tarja’s emotion, bringing us into a very personal place lyrically. This song doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

This song truly demonstrates Tarja’s writing ability to hook the listener within just seconds of the song. Driving/heavy guitars, grooving and pulse pounding drums and yet, subtle verses. Tarja’s vocal versatility shines in “Dead Promises”; from her light yet driving “ahh ahh ahhhh”’s during the intro and in between verses, to her more laid back voice during the verses “I’ve seen the walls collapsing, breaking down countless times”, to her belting out “Dead Promises” in the choruses.

“Dead promises
Games you play will kill your dreams
Promises mean everything
Life won’t look back for you”


This line in particular means a lot to me. I’ve had someone in my life that I’ve known since I was 9 years old. This person always made promises that they’d be there to support me, and would always be there to help me grow. Then the backbiting and the dead promises started. This person did everything they could to break me down, and eventually, killed a dream for me. I however then look to the line in the second verse “Why can’t you see that your powers will weaken and fall? Oh why, you seem to forget what you make us recall.” This person only had power over me because I allowed them to. Thankfully, I got myself out of that toxic situation and have made new dreams that are becoming reality.

For me, this song reminds us of what empty promises have taught us throughout our lives. We can chose to be a victim, or a victor. We can’t let those who hurt us with empty promises define who we are, and they only define who we are if we give them the power to do so.

If this song is any indication as to what the rest of “In the Raw” holds, I absolutely can’t wait. I always find a true connection to music that is honest and raw; music that pours out emotion and doesn’t hold back. Tarja always pushes the boundaries with her music and tries new things, and because of that her music is always evolving. *

Railroads

As a fan of Tarja since I discovered Nightwish in 2001, I have always had a deep appreciation for all of her music, and have always been able to find a personal connection to her lyrics; and “Railroads” is no exception! This song, to me, has a beautiful opening. (It’s actually hard not to envision an older railroad crossing just before the vocals come in.)

The first few lines alone I connect to right away.

“Hard to believe in, strikes like a bad sin.
Live without meaning is no life at all.
Dreaming victorious, death to be glorious.
Conquering new worlds further than before.”


Everyone longs to find meaning in their lives and it’s hard to believe in life without one. For some, it’s a career. For many, it’s family and their loved ones. For others, it’s faith. For me, it was my new found faith as a Christian that gave my life meaning.

Throughout my middle school/high school years, I went through a really bad depression. We had a lot of financial worries throughout those years and things were really difficult emotionally, financially and socially. I dealt with a lot of emotional bullying, which turned physical at times as well. Back in 2008, a close friend introduced to me to the Church that I’m going to still to this day, and my life has completely changed for the better. I have a much better career path now, an amazing Wife who I met at Church, and have found true happiness and joy in my life.

When the chorus kicks in “Come show me the love that fills your heart. You’ll see this moment will redeem the past, and shine tomorrow railroads with your light.” the music builds with more intense strings and chugging guitars. After the second chorus, there’s an instrumental interlude for about :38 seconds where the strings intensify even more and pull to the front of the melody from the chorus. I’ve always been a sucker for strings with hard rock, and this section is just great!

For me, the chorus is really the hook of this song. The very moment that we discover the meaning of our lives, we find a love and a drive that fills our hearts. For me, when I turned to my faith as a Christian, that exact moment in time redeemed my past. In this moment, whatever your purpose is, once you identify it, you become a light for all of those around you who may still be in the dark. You’re able to help others who have been in your same situation because you’ve been through it and came out on the other side victorious.

Thank you Tarja, yet again, for your constant inspiration. Thank you for sharing something so beautiful, yet something so raw. I can’t wait to hear the rest of this album!

Tears in Rain

We all have faced challenges and difficulties in our lives, but what defines us is how we come out on the other end. We can all relate to Tarja’s newest single “Tears in Rain”, as we’ve all faced something that has completely changed us.

The intro to this song is in your face drums and guitar, with some synth in the background. Once the verse hits, it almost has an 80’s feel, and I love it! The verses are light but groovy, and the chorus is extremely catchy. “We are gone. Nothing of us remains, like tears in rain. Who we are, all of it washed away like tears in rain.”

The bridge, however, has got to be my favorite part of the song, especially the first few words. For me personally, it speaks to victory over difficulties. “I will write another storyline. The circle of love will shine…”

When I was about 22, someone I trusted and considered a part of my family (not blood family) did something awful to me. This one moment in my life changed me. I didn’t know who I could trust anymore. When I hear the opening lines “Dominos fall in a house that’s empty. Still of the silence is deafening. Not even a trace, our existence erased by this quiet game.”, I think of that moment. Everything around me came crashing down hard and fast. I was broken. I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Just “…like tears in rain”, the “familial bond” was washed away forever. The trust was broken and could never be gained again.

“How could the memories be so real? We move on, but the time won’t heal. So I give what I get, just before I forget how our fates were sealed”. For years after, the memories were so vivid in my mind. I would have nightmares, on repeat, of that one moment in time. As time moved on, I felt like I wasn’t healing. In fact, only getting worse. I would talk to family and friends about it, but it kept eating at me. I had a choice to make at that point. Either I could let this one moment define the rest of my life, or I could move on, learn from it and forgive. (Forgive doesn’t mean that I’d ever trust this person again, only that I’d release myself from the bondage of hating this person for the rest of my life). I decided to forgive. The moment I did, I was able to “write a new storyline.” The memories slowly began to subside and the nightmares went away. To this day, I am able to see this person, and at least be civil with them. While I have forgiven this person that changed me forever, I won’t ever be able to trust them again.

“Tears in Rain” is becoming my favorite track so far from “In The Raw”. Tarja’s deep dive into herself for this album is very evident. This is shaping up to be my favorite album of hers in quite some time, pretty equal with MWS and WLB. As always Tarja, thank you for sharing your heart with us, and for always staying true to who you are as a person and as a musician. Thank you for laying it all out, and exposing your inner heart on these three songs, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!

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