Metal Review: Tarja – Act 1 (2012)

Tarja – Act 1Tarja Turunen is a unique act and personality. As far as symphonic/goth metal singers go, she has set the bar ridiculously high, and I doubt that anyone could touch her. While not my favorite female vocalist, she is dominant in what she does. Her voice is astounding to say the least (and her looks are not so bad either). I was psyched when I received the advance for Act 1, a double disc collection of Tarja’s live act recorded at the end of March 2012 in Argentina.

It is hard to fathom that the title Act 1 was not a response to the title of her last work with Nightwish, End of an Era. She always had no issues saying that her stint with Nightwish was just a prologue of what her career was to become always having aspirations to be a solo artist. In my opinion, Nightwish was foolish to think that they would be the same after Tarja left. Regardless of her role in the songwriting process, her voice and presence was what the fans wanted and loved.

With Act 1, we get a lot of what we expect and some of what we do not expect. We all knew that her solo work would be different than her work with Nightwish. Nightwish was over the top and symphonic. If it was not for Tarja’s voice, most of the music would border on unbearable, but we ate it up because we could listen to that voice. With Tarja (the band), the songs are less symphonic and are not as orchestrated as they once were. I would not dare say that they were raw because there was a lot of production to them as well, but not nearly as much as with Nightwish.

The first two tracks on disc 1 are oddly pedestrian with few highlights, but the energy, both from the songs and the crowd alike, begin to come into play with Dark Star. It is a wonderful rendition both musically and vocally. After that, the album falls into a groove with Naiad. Sometimes, Tarja’s vocals still shock me. She hits notes that seem vocally impossible and does it as simply as you or I speak.

Songs like I Walk Alone (one of her more recent tracks) are done with energy and power. You can feel the energy that Tarja has for the new songs, but no energy seems lost when she revisits Nightwish classics like Nemo and the Nightwish covers of Over the Hills and Far Away and The Phantom of the Opera. I do not want to skip over The Phantom of the Opera like it is a passing thought because I am mesmerized by her voice on that track. While listening to Nightwish is hit or miss with me (I really have to be in the mood), I can listen to The Phantom of the Opera any time.

The one thing that I will admit that I missed on this album was her version of Alice Cooper’s Poison. That seems to have become a staple of her live shows and I would have expected that here, but with 24 tracks (actually a few more since some tracks are medleys), you would assume that would be here.

Another beef that I have with this release is that two hours seems a bit too ambitious as there is much filler material in here, but nonetheless, it is an epic release.

Tarja

Act 1 Track Listing:

CD 1:
1. Anteroom of Death
2. My Little Phoenix
3. Dark Star
4. Naiad
5. Falling Awake
6. I Walk Alone
7. Little Lies
8. Into the Sun
9. Nemo
10. Never Enough
11. Still of the Night
12. In For a Kill

CD 2:
1. Boy and the Ghost
2. Lost Northern Star
3. Ciaran’s Well
4. Tired of Being Alone
5. Where Were You Last Night/Heaven is a Place on Earth/Livin’ on a Prayer
6. Underneath
7. Oasis/The Archive of Lost Dreams
8. Crimson Deep
9. The Phantom of the Opera
10. Die Alive
11. Until my Last Breath
12. Over the Hills and Far Away