Nightwish proved repeatedly they don’t need Tarja. With this record, Tarja indentured under a crazed, top-hat-wearing martinet doesn’t sound so bad after all.
Tarja Turunen is Finnish rock royalty. Her star rose during a tenure in symphonic metal staple Nightwish. In 2005, keyboardist and prima donna Tuomas Holopainen accused her of diva-like behaviour. At the end of their tour, the band cast her out with a group hug of death. Go figure.
No biggie, Tarja kept her captivating mezzo-soprano pipes warm going solo. In Europe, her records mostly rang gold and platinum gongs. The mere word ‘Tarja’dances like silk across the tongue. Her conservatory-to-rock-star story reads like a fairytale. But Colours In The Dark shatters a once deeply held illusion.
Tarja’s band apes the Nightwish sound. No doubts cast there. It’s kind of like hearing them outside the pub while stuck neck-deep in a chat about tax accounting. Opener ‘Victim Of Ritual’ builds around a suspiciously knocked-off Bolero march before taking off into full-blown Hollywood metal. Later, she realigns hippie chakras in ‘Lucid Dreamer’. She’s a waif-like doll dancing gracefully across a dive bar stage on ‘Neverlight’, penned by ex-In Flames headbanger Jesper Strömblad. She struggles in Peter Gabriel cover ‘Darkness’, proving her opera hall voice doesn’t fit inside pop-sized boxes.
It feels like Tarja’s handlers swatted her into an array of bizarre backgrounds, hoping her sublime voice will carry us away every time. It feels like Tarja has fallen from symphonic metal heaven only to hold court in a stylistically confused hell.
BY TOM VALCANIS
Colours In The Dark is out now through Edel/Shock Records