Review of Tarja’s ‘Dead Promises’ Single

Several people wanted to write a review on this single for the webzine so you will be reading several here. Mine is first, enjoy and be sure to listen to the song (video at bottom, along with a sample of the album version feat. Bjorn from Soilwork) and order this album. Out Aug. 30th, 2019!

All Photography © Tim Tronckoe
Review © Jessica Clingempeel | CEO of Ethereal Metal Webzine | Tarja's USA Admin 

Dead Promises, given the context of the lyrics, has no bearings on Tarja’s promise to deliver a heavier and darker album. This track promises to deliver and succeed! The beginning starts out heavy, gets heavier in the middle, and ends heavy. The instrumentation meshes well with the melodic and emotional context of Tarja’s voice, making this song an outstanding first taste of what I assume will be the album to beat this year.

Instead of focusing on the musical elements of this album, since we already have several reviews, I will focus on the lyrical context and what this song means to me. A little bit of a personal story if you will.

We have all been given a dead promise or two or a thousand. Countries have been given many from the “leaders”. We have all fallen victim to such promises. I was the victim for most of my life, since early childhood. I was given broken promises by my father almost every time I would see him. The promise of love, safety and protection, being there for me. All those promises were dead, were empty. I never saw much love, I never had protection, he was barely ever there, and with him I experienced all kinds of abuse, if not by the hands of him, then by the women and their grown children he would take me around.

I was given dead promises by my ex. The relationship was nothing but control, fights, etc. One-sided, always about him, I was last. These two are just small examples of what I endured in life. Those men were the reasonings for my disbelief in love, my struggles with any kind of relationships (friendship or intimate), and my trust and hatred for humanity that kept getting worse. I had put up a wall and thought nothing or no one would ever get close to and hurt me again as long as I was in charge and kept that wall up. It was just recently I have learned to love again. I met a man that I never thought existed. He has been kind, loving, and every promise so far has been kept and fulfilled. I tore my wall down and gave him the chance. If I hadn’t I would not have ever seen true love.

This song challenges everyone and is a lesson for those of us who have been lied to and hurt. We have all fallen victim to someone and/or something. We can either keep the walls we have built up or we can tear them down, forgive those who hurt us (for us), and trust again. Otherwise we will never know what love is, a good life, nor ever see our dreams become reality. As always, Tarja has hit a personal level for me. She has been my earthly saviour, apart from my mother, because if it were not for her and her music, I would be dead today. I was on the verge of suicide so many times, use to self-harm, pull hair out, scream, cry, hate the world, but it was her music that saved me. This is why I am so loyal to this woman. This new album, after only one song, proves to be another fit for me on a personal and emotional level. As always Tarja, thank you. *

Review © China Tosin | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine  

In short: Very guitar-based, riff-based, with a very important bitter message that hit the hearts of those who habitually break promises or have their promises let down, Tarja’s out there to retribute!

This song’s message seems to be about empty promises in relationships or family conflicts that are not fulfilled and it keeps adding up the pain when the promises keep creating expectations of improvement but not much effort in achieving. However, it can likely to apply outside interpersonal context too, such as unfulfilled political hopes, corporate failure in compensating their services. The line “Dead promises, games you play will kill your dreams…” sends a strong message about those who give empty promises will actually be the ones hurting, too. The vocals are pretty minimal compared to Tarja’s other songs that are a bit more complex, but executed it well, kept it concise, catchy, and powerful.

The music is on the heavier and faster side of her discography, very guitar-based and riff-based. The lead riffs, the main heavy riffs, and choice of sound give the song a “bitter” and “dry” feeling which fits the message. No solo in heavier Tarja songs had not ever been a bad thing, as this song gives you a varied and harmonized version of the lead riff near the end.

The dynamics of the song are very well plotted, as there are parts that the lead riffs playing alone giving excitement and build up, things get heavy on the main riffs and chorus. In the verses are laid down with less distorted guitar picking and bass guitar on higher register makes the song fit the “dry” feeling. *

Review © Jade | Reviewer of Ethereal Metal Webzine

Dead Promises, the first track released to the public from Tarja Turunen’s new album “In The Raw”, is a thunderous song with plenty of guitar and a traditional hard-rock feel. In The Raw is definitely an album title this song belongs on – the music and lyrics combined make for a very naked song, aggressive and not even having to put up a fight to get to the front of the musical line and be noticed. Tarja stated that this new album was going to be darker and heavier than previous albums, and she definitely delivers here.

Turunen’s powerful vocals shine brightly on this track, but the missing element was a heavier, darker vocal – a growl, if you will. From my quick review of the Album Version preview of Dead Promises, this is solved with the addition of Björn “Speed” Strid of SOILWORK. While the single version is a fantastic preview, the album version seems like it’s going to have that one extra element needed to make a perfect heavy metal song. (Though it’s been proven over and over again that Tarja Turunen shines beautifully on her own.)

Overall, Dead Promises was a perfect peek into what’s to come. A crowd pleaser to say the least (as it won a Metal Hammer poll for best new music in metal for the week of its release by a LANDSLIDE), I can say this much: we’re all dying to see it live.

Review © Zach Brehany | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine

If this new single shows us everything, it looks like her promise of a Winter Storm is about to be unleashed with fury, anger, and the darkest corner of herself as a person. We’ve seen this transformation of a classical singer with an exceptional voice to her now being a powerhouse or a vocalist. And yet, years later, we are drawn back into her spell.

The last hard rock album she put out, The Shadow Self, was all about the darker Tarja and the sides of her that are deranged, emotional, and hidden beneath scars of damage she as endured as a performer. If this song is any indication of what the album will entell, we are about to start seeing the wounds uncovered and bloody. 

“Dead Promises” lyrically are as deep as any other song she has put out (brings to mind the lyrics to “I Walk Alone”, “Dark Star”, “Never Enough”, and “Innocence”). They are all recollections of her past with people, theorizing that they deal with Nightwish. When looked at it from that angle, this is a natural progression of herself as an artist: she is moving on, but won’t forget what happened to her for her to be where she is at now. 
The song does create a strong sense of sorrow when you are left thinking about all the promises people have made but keep on breaking. The message, I believe, is that we need to move on from all of that. Those that have betrayed us will no longer be able to continue living their best life because they built there’s off of lying, betrayals, and promises that amount to nothing. We will always have to deal with people like that, but they are not our problem; we don’t have the right to give ourselves to those kinds of people because they will only hold us back. Tarja is moving on from the past and that is what she is telling us to do. 

The instrumentation for this track is what threw me off the most. It feels like she is also moving away from her usual pure orchestration that was what started her career with both her Christmas album “Breath From Heaven*” and “My Winter Storm” and going back to the hard rock elements from “What Lies Beneath” and “Colours in the Dark”. This song isn’t about sounding as sweeping and operatic, but more in your face and out in the open. It’s an interesting choice, but I am left wondering how the rest of the album will play out.

This is a good look into the album and a song I’m sure will be a fan favorite. We are seeing Tarja transform more into the queen of hard rock that we know her as and it seems there is no way to go back. She’s hear to sucker punch us into looking deeper in ourselves and we can only hope that emotionally we will handle what it is like to strip ourselves from what we see and embrace what we find in the raw.  *

Overall Rating: 4.5/5