Since her first time in Nightwish Tarja Turunen showed that she is something different, actually something special. Having watched her up close since her beginning and for the past twenty years that has passed up to now I can easily imagine that she has done more than she could ever have thought about herself.
Listening to her maxi EP, “The Brightest Void”, a few months ago, gave me a hint that something totally different than the previous albums was coming. Listening carefully to the album now I come to the conclusion that “The Shadow Self” is something she released for herself, it sounds to me like she is testing the waters, preparing for her next move. There is definitely a lot of stuff for someone to listen to, but it’s not the easiest listen Tarja has to offer. She is experimenting with her voice a lot, she tries the high notes, but not always with the soprano pitch. Also, the plethora of riffs that we listen from the strings in most of the songs may seem foreign at least in the first couple of spins. I presume that because of all that a song that will lift you up (like for example “Until My Last Breath”) can’t be found here.
Still, I think that this album will appeal to those who seek new forms in symphonic metal.
The songs that stand out are “Diva”, “Eagle Eye” and the amazing 13-minute long “Too Many” that conclude the album. On the other hand, I think that Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz contribution is totally useless. Unlike the cover of Muse’s “Supremacy” that’s great.
“The Shadow Self” is an interesting release. I don’t know how is going to be ranked by Tarja’s fans next to her other albums, but it’s definitely full of new suggestions for the genre.