Review of "The Best of Tarja" in Prague

Review by Jessica Clingempeel | 21.01.20 | © Photos & Videos belong to me, J.C.

Tarja had two special shows, one in Romania which was filmed for DVD, and one in Prague which I attended. She played the best of her solo career in new arrangements that would only be heard at these shows. I was looking forward to this show so much wondering what would be in store. Attending the soundcheck gave me a glimpse of what was to come that night and it made me even more anxious.

The show was about 2 hours long and included 16 talented and wonderful musicians. The setlist included songs from every album, some performed many times on stage and some rarities that were missed including Naiad. Tarja has always shown just how professional and dramatic she is at her shows, putting on the best and giving her all to her audience, even when sick or just about burnt out. This was no exception and of all the shows I have been to, this by far was the best.

Every musician gave a flawless performance and you could see that each of them had good chemistry. If there were any mistakes, I did not really notice nor did anyone else as the audience continued to get louder and give more love through each song. The only complaint I would have would be the lighting. The lighting was beautiful, but at times flashed so much that it was hard to see the stage and musicians and was, at times, hurting my eyes.

One of my favourite performances of the night was ‘You and I’ as it is one of my favourite songs by Tarja. Beautifully written and beautifully performed. Other favourites included Love to Hate, Diva, I Feel Immortal, and Tears in Rain which was performed alongside with Clèmentine of Visions of Atlantis. Clèmentine did such an amazing job and her voice matches Tarja’s perfect. Falling Awake was performed with Toni Turunen, Tarja’s younger brother. He has much range in his voice and you can tell music runs through this family’s blood. Naiad was another great performance where all joined in together including Chiara Tricarico. You can see the full setlist below.

You can tell a lot of work was put into these shows and into the new arrangements of these songs. Having seen photos from the show in Romania I cannot wait to have a copy of the DVD in my hands. I only wish the show in Prague was also recorded as the atmosphere of the audience was wonderful, the theatre was beautiful, and the show was just top notch. Maybe they will put some of the fan’s clips onto the DVD as a bonus. 😊

Setlist

Some videos/clips I took

Shadow Play
You and I
Demons in You
Diva
Falling Awake Clip

Review of Gentihaa's "Reverse Entropy"

Review by Ryan Murray | January 23, 202

Gentihaa’s “Reverse Entropy” is a brutal assault on your senses! This album is difficult to place under any specific sub genre of metal, but has got it all musically – from thrash riffs, to metalcore, to extreme metal, to symphonic metal. Vocally it’s a mix between brutal vocals to melodic metal vocals. As described by the band, the vocalist André is dealing with a story. “Lyrically, André is dealing with a story found in a well-hidden corner of the web, dealing with 8 pills that give different “super powers” to 8 random individuals, leading them to the distant future just to find out that the Earth is destroyed, and then all of them trying to reverse the entropy with the help of the master (Alpha) through the guidance of the one (Singularity).”

Serum – The opening track is an instrumental and gives you a feel of where this album will go on the melodic metal side. The guitars in harmonies kick in at :16 seconds in and then drums at :37 to give it a heavier feel. It’s time to take a journey to the future!

Empathy – This track kicks off with kind of a thrash/metal core feel right away! The melodic vocals in this song easily remind me of Symphony X. The intro gives me an “All That Remains” vibe. The vocals are a mix between melodic and brutal throughout. For me, this song talks about the destruction that will come in the future from a lack of empathy. 

“No one is fully mindful
Of each one’s perfect structure
She’s the one who can truly see it
Holding on to sanity.”

To me, this speaks to the human condition. None of us at any given time is ever really fully mindful of others. As humans, we all tend to slip into a pattern of apathy. With empathy, this allows us to hold on to sanity because we step out of ourselves and we put others ahead of ourselves. 

Vision – This song starts out a bit more dirge like with a demonic like speaking of lyrics. There’s a lot of orchestral strings in the background of this track and I really like what that adds! This song, for me, speaks to the fact that as humans, when we’re empathetic towards others, we want to help save others from their apathy and selfishness. Try as we may though, we can’t change people.  

“Swore to myself that I’d save all of you
But things humans can do were never enough
Swore to myself I’ll reverse entropy
So I’m seeking God no one else it can be.”

This line speaks to me a lot.  As a Christian, I rely on my relationship with God to get me through everything. I find that God helps me to ‘reverse entropy’ whenever I feel a lack of order to things.  When things around us seem to be confusing and lacking purpose, we can turn to God for purpose and meaning. The song seems to agree with that in the line “so I’m seeking God no one else it can be.”

Metamorphosis – This song starts out a bit softer, but doesn’t stay that way when the guitars kick in at :29. The tempo is down just a bit on this song, but that doesn’t take away from the power. This song, for me, talks about the bondage of having enemies, which once again can lead to destruction. 

“Fantasy
Becoming alive
Enemy
Everyone I find 
Reality
Suddenly it hits me
I am free
From the human chains“

It seems we have a choice of either living in a fantasy or living in reality. More than that, we can also make our reality free of the human chains of apathy. 

Alpha – This one starts off light, but doesn’t last long until the heavy groove kicks in! Absolutely love the backing strings in this track! This song has some metalcore and thrash beats. This song, for me, talks about how important it is to be careful with what we do with our time here on earth, and that if we aren’t careful, we’ll wake up to realize that we’ve wasted our time with the things that don’t really matter.

“Woke up one day and there it was
The life I lost in my palms
When she touched me with her hands
I knew I’d give my life for her”

What will we do with our time here? If we aren’t careful, we’ll wake up to see that we did nothing of importance. We need to wake up and step out of apathy and into empathy.

Beyond – An ethereal intro gives way to some brutal riffs! This song, at times reminds me of Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir musically. For me, this song is about looking everywhere, far and wide for anything to set us free from destruction. Looking “way across the galaxy for anything that will set her free.”  

“My Lord
God save us all
We’re all alone
We are all alone
If only you told me what to do
God save us all
If only you showed me the way to
We are all alone.”

To me, this is about looking in the wrong places for guidance and direction. If we chose to look in the wrong places, we feel alone and ignored. If we look to God to save us all from apathy and destruction, we can escape the human chains.  

Command – This is an interesting song. The guitar parts in the beginning are melodic and harmonizing, but heavy! A lot of brutal/heavy vocals throughout as well. At about 1:57 however, there’s a nice acoustic sounding part with cleaner vocals. 

“You will be my eternal slave
Give me yourself we will be here forever.”

This, to me, speaks about being an eternal slave to time. If we let time use us, instead of us using our time wisely, we can very easily end up stuck forever with a wasted life, waking up one day and wondering what happened with our time. This is all about the choices we make.  

Mastery – This song starts off a bit slower then the previous track, but still has an epic sound to it right from the start. A lot of tremolo picking throughout gives it a death metal vibe, but with some clean vocals too. This song, to me, is about those of us who put ourselves over others with our thoughts and actions. Those of us who make ourselves out to be better than everyone else. These types of people seem to be more and more prevalent and could lead to destruction in our future. 

“He’s tired of all the
Incompetence of the World
Bow before me
You bunch of lowly ants.”

This line, to me, speaks about people who think they are better than others. Those who act this way tend to tear others down with their words and actions.

I personally have dealt with people like this. People who are toxic and feel that they are better than everyone else. People who can’t accept blame for how they are, but instead they blame it on others. People who think they can never do any wrong. It’s toxic people like that that lead to others’ self destruction. We need to make the choice to distance ourselves from people like that and not allow them to break us down.

Singularity – The final track. This track starts out with an acoustic sound and clean vocals. At about 1:50, the guitars and drums really kick in and the brutal vocals come in. Getting a glimpse into the future through the singularity, one sees a future controlled by machines. For me, this song is about the technological strides we’ve made, and how our reliance on artificial intelligence, while a good thing, can also be bad if we aren’t careful.

“I control
The machine of mankind
I will rule
I have the power to control
And to rule
The machine of mankind
I am the singularity.”

Artificial intelligence is all around us. Smart TV’s, Smart Phones, Siri, Alexa and so much more. Technology is a good thing when we use it as a tool, but we need to be careful because while technology is a positive tool, it can quickly takeover us. Instead of the technology being a slave to us, we become slaves to technology.

While I had never heard of Gentihaa before, this album was absolutely worth a listen! This album combines all sorts of metal – from metalcore, thrash, extreme and symphonic metal, as well as brutal and melodic vocals. “Reverse Entropy” also has a lot of harmonizing guitars and orchestral strings in the background. (which I always love!)

I give this album 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. If you haven’t listened to “Reverse Entropy” by Genthiaa, please be sure to give it a listen!

Tarja on In the Raw

Interview by Jessica Clingempeel | January 15, 2019

With each album, you have grown, gone bigger, and have gotten even better. Did you feel the challenges for this album were easier than previous times or harder?

Through the years I have realised that I have become more relaxed with my album productions. This has to do with the fact that I have already pretty many albums behind me and the work including it’s challenges are not unbearable tasks for me any longer. Of course I am always facing new challenges during songwriting and production, but I am not judging myself as hard as I used to do in the beginning of my career. Experience definitely helps and the confidence I have gained as well, but this didn’t happen overnight. 

The orchestration in this album is beautiful and I can see this entire album being performed with an actual orchestra. Have you had any thoughts of doing something like this?

I have been lucky to work with several symphonic orchestras in my career, so this could be a really nice idea to work on. Anyways, I don’t have any plans for it at the moment.

You had previously stated that this album is the most personal and that you went through some things, such as health-related issues, which led to this album. Would you care to discuss some of those moments and to help listeners understand you and your songs better?

Actually I prefer not to bring these issues to the light of day, yet. The music helped me to overcome some of them and understand myself better, so that’s why I wanted to write about these things on my album, but my personal life belongs to me. 

Was there any one song that you struggled with or did the lyric writing become easy once started?

The lyric writing has never been an easy process for me, nor it was that this time. I had all the doubts of the world around me when I started writing the lyrics, but once I got the first song down, I felt I was ready for the challenge. 

You, along with Alex Scholpp, were the main writers of In the Raw. Did you write with anyone else apart from Alex?

With Alex I wrote actually two songs on the album as I did with Mattias Lindblom. There are other writers involved who had been writing with me along the years. Those are Julian Barrett, Erik Nyholm, James Dooley, Johnny Lee Andrews and Bart Hendrickson.

Spirits of the Sea was dedicated to the crew of ARA San Juan. Have you received any comments from those close to them? Did you personally know any of the families?

No, I haven’t been in touch with the families nor I knew them personally. 

I have read elsewhere that the U.S. may be seeing you again with this album. I know you cannot tell much when it comes to touring but, are there any estimated dates at least?

We are currently and constantly working on the album tours worldwide, so I have my high hopes that I will do at least some shows in US with this album. Thank you for the patience.  

In January you will have two special concerts that will be recorded for a DVD. What was the idea behind doing this and also the guests that were selected to participate?

I am celebrating my 15th year as a solo artist this year, so I thought it could be a nice idea to have a great party with the musicians that have been working and supporting me through these incredible years. I am not planning to do a world tour with this project, but willing these concerts to remain as something very special and unique. There are no invited, guest musicians in these shows, but a complete line up of musicians who are performing all the songs in the show together with me. 

When will we see Outlanders come to life?

Hopefully soon! 🙂 I am recording the last bits and pieces after the best of concerts and my idea is to finish with the production during this spring time. So….I am pretty sure you will be able to hear soon what Torsten and I have been working with during millions of past years. 

—Just a few select questions from some of your USA fan club members—

Luis: How was the orchestral process like for In the Raw? Which orchestra/choir did you use this time or was it all digitally produced orchestral sounds?

There was no live orchestra involved this time on the album, but we used samples. Aren’t they sounding amazing? 🙂

Matt: Will My Winter Storm ever get an anniversary box set release?

We don’t have that release in our plans at the moment, even though it’s a nice idea. 

Shanell: Are there any songs on your list that you would love to do a cover of?

Covering a song is always a huge challenge, because I need to have a reason for doing it. Also in my productions I always want to respect the original song, but at the same time I need to feel the song as one of my own ones, so it is difficult to choose one particular song to cover. I am doing lots of cover songs in other projects of mine, when I sing with the symphonic orchestras for example, so I am not really missing the chance to cover songs for my albums necessarily. But saying all this, maybe you will hear me covering a song for my future record anyways! HA!

Kathleen: What inspires you to write songs? I would love to know what inspired ‘Oasis’ as it is my mother’s favourite song and still calms me today.

Many things are inspiring me to write music. For example my crazy life, things that I explore or experience during my journeys with music and people that I meet with their incredible stories. But also music itself inspires me. For Oasis one of the biggest inspirations was scores/ film music. I wanted to write a song that would make me feel peaceful and calm, no matter there is a storm outside. I am happy to hear that you and your mom can enjoy my song. 

In closing, are there any last words for your fans and readers?

I want to thank you for the love and support. I really hope to get to rock with you soon with my latest record! Thank you for keeping my storm strong. 

With love, Tarja

Review of 'Order of the Minus' by Project Renegade

Review by Joshua Becker | December 28, 2019

Project Renegade are a metal band hailing from Athens, Greece. Order of the Minus is their latest hit album. Upon first listen, even thought it’s labeled as metal, it seems like a fusion of industrial metal at times too.

Heavy guitar riffs signify metal, and electronic sounds in the background of certain songs like Liber8 with the intro and what sounds like metal clanging and a siren indicative of industrial metal.

Vocal production overall is great, and instrumentation seem very professionally-done. The singer has a nice, clear, on-pitch voice.

I really liked the album and I would give this a solid 4 stars. I would give it more, but it sounds like every song on the album has the same beat or similar, almost like the songs are recycling the same beats. Other than that, nice solid work, and I look forward to what they produce next.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Review of Tarja’s Christmas Show in Tampere

Review, Photos, & Videos by Jessica Clingempeel | December 17, 2019

If you are looking for a great Christmas experience, then catch one of Tarja’s Christmas shows. I have been wanting to catch one of Tarja’s classical/Christmas shows and finally this year I was able to mark that off my bucket list. I had tickets for her last two shows, plus a ticket to Raskasta Joulua at the Hartwall Arena where she was supposed to participate. Unfortunately, two shows were cancelled due to illness.

The Tampere show ended up being Tarja’s last show of her Finnish Christmas tour. She had been battling the flu for a while, and after Tampere she just could not go on. When watching her perform you would never know she was sick. She made those high notes seem effortless and the entire night was spectacular. She was dressed in a beautiful black gown and a smile stayed on her face the entire night.

Her setlist included many favourites from both of her Christmas albums from ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ to classic Finnish songs from her first Christmas album, Henkäys Ikuisuudesta and several Ave Marias. My favourite of the night had to be What Child is This. Tarja was accompanied by three other known musicians; Max Lilja (cello), Julian Barrett (guitars), and Guillermo De Medio (keyboards); who did an outstanding band solo of Little Drummer Boy.

The venue, Tampere Cathedral, was a beautiful church which made the atmosphere more magnificent. The church was also filled with fans, both local and international. The show sent chills down my spine as her voice filled the entire cathedral. I left that night in awe and wish it hadn’t ended. I was looking forward to the next night in Kuusankoski, but as said before, was cancelled understandably. I hope to catch more Christmas shows next year as it is an experience to not miss.

Below, exclusive videos by me. Please only share the youtube links or the webzine. Uploading anywhere else is prohibited.

Review of Stitched Up Heart's Show in Cleveland

© Review, Photo, & Videos by Joshua Becker | December 9th, 2019

December 3, 2019
Stitched Up Heart Concert Review
Cleveland, Ohio House of Blues

Venue: The last concert I had, 3Teeth, I had some issues with the venue an my ticket and photo pass, to where I had to get the tour manager to interrupt what he was doing to get me settled. This time around, everything was already waiting for me.

Intro: I went to a concert at the Cleveland House of Blues on December 3rd to see Stitched Up Heart. What will follow are my experiences and overall impressions of the feature.

Start: For the first few songs I was in the photo pit, I was in awe. To start with, Mixi, from the very beginning, was already going out on stage full force and rousing the crowd.

Light Shows: The light shows at House of Blues always seem so stunning, but this feature was the best I have seen so far. There was this almost constant pulsating red light throughout the songs that further added to the
allure.

Fans: “Mixi”, not missing a beat started to interact with the group, pointing at people singing along in the audience, raising hands up to capture the crowd’s interest, twirling around on stage.

Outfit: “Mixi” had on these sequined black pants, and I could not ignore how sparkly and beautiful they were.

Overall: My overall impression of the show was I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Stitched Up Heart’s performance, and I want them to come back to Cleveland soon because I had an amazing time, and writing this review made those memories flood back.

Even though I am a reviewer, I still appreciate the shows for what they are. In fact, the songs they played, I actually looked up when I got home, and since, I am now a fan of them as well. How awesome is that?!

Clips: