Well here we are, the solo debut of ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen. I’m not going to go into the whole soap opera of her exit from the band, but suffice it to say that I’m sure there were problems on both sides of the fence. I also had more confidence in the new Nightwish album than Tarja’s debut, as she never wrote the music, Tuomas Holopainen did. Given that, I figured that Nightwish would have an easier time moving on, as their main songwriter did not change. Tarja, on the other hand, would be forced to write on her own, or find new writing partners. A quick glance at the credits of this album shows that she’s done both, although it leans heavily on the side of outside writers.
So what does Tarja present us with on MY WINTER STORM? If you guessed “Nemo”-styled ballads mixed with the occasional up-tempo rockers, and the whole thing liberally does with orchestral bombast, you’d be correct. In other words, almost exactly what I was expecting. As we’ve come to expect from her, Tarja’s vocals are as powerful and haunting as ever. In fact Tarja’s performance rivals the best of her work with Nightwish, and she obviously rose to the challenge of her first solo project. The first single, “I Walk Alone” was a perfect choice to highlight Tarja, and show that she hasn’t lost an ounce of ability and doesn’t necessarily need Holopainen’s music as a crutch.
Unfortunately, as good as “I Walk Alone” is, it’s also the best song on the album. The rest of the 18-track album (4 intros, 14 regular songs) is peppered with good moments, amid a sea of mediocre song writing. Truly, the compositions on MY WINTER STORM are not bad, but just so generic that nothing stands out. It’s a shame because the band’s individual performances are all tight and noteworthy. To pick out a few highlights: “Die Alive” and “Ciaran’s Well” pick up the pace, and crank up the heaviness, while “Boy and the Ghost” is a beautiful, quieter ballad. The rest of the album ranges from similar quiet ballads to slightly more lively ballads. For a 14 song album, it’s a bit much to handle unless you LOVE ballads and can’t wait to hear Tarja croon as many as possible.
In a bizarre move, Tarja chose to cover the Alice Cooper classic “Poison”. Let’s just say it perhaps wasn’t the best choice of cover song as it’s been turned into a generic goth-rock meatball. It’s also an uncharacteristically weak performance from Tarja herself.
All in all, I have to say that despite my average score for the album, it’s a disappointment overall. Tarja shines as usual, but the music is just not up her level.
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