After releasing a prequel album earlier in the year, The Brightest Voice, which was basically a selection of sounds which didn't make the final cut, Tarja shows us the finished article – The Shadow Self. Although a few of the tracks also re-appear here too.
In terms of sound and style, The Shadow Self is very similar to its predecessor, which is perhaps to be expected. Tarja maintains the classical crossover feel with the opening track Innocence. It's a whirlwind of tumultuous musical influences and balletic piano midway. It's very theatrical with exaggerated symphonic overtones which continue in Bitter End as the ballad style verses build to a rockier chorus. There's a change in sound with a heavier backing, which at times is a bit hit and miss and does not always work with the operatic vocal.
Love To Hate is a dark, classically influenced track which is well matched to her theatrical vocal abilities. Supremacy combines both a Bondesque flooding of minor and diminished chords with suburb belting vocals which bring out the best of both musical worlds.
The Shadow Self is very much an album of two halves with the latter being less forced and more comfortable when placed with Tarja's vocal ability. Tracks such as Diva with its incendiary soprano chorus and Undertaker are more balanced for her style. She's certainly at her best with the softer, more symphonic tracks that allow her to open us her voice to its full dramatic range.
Since leaving Nightwish, Tarja has certainly managed to achieve success in both the classical and metal genres. She may be venturing outside the established boundaries with her current work, which is admirable as a form of artistic expression, but there is still no doubt that her finest work is when she doesn't stray too far from the middle of the crossover world.
Groupie Rating 3/5