Tarja – “The Brightest Void” & “The Shadow Self” (2016)


Label: earMUSIC

Review by Alessandra “Psamathes” Cognetta

Tarja’s summer has been marked by two milestones to her prolific career, through the release of “The Shadow Self” and “The Brightest Void”. There’s a lot to say about both of them, so let’s take our time to have an in-depth look at this double album. “The Shadow Self” is, chronologically, the second album published by Tarja. Even a superficial overview of the album can give an idea of how varied it is, spanning multiple genres. Sometimes they are mixed, such as in “No Bitter End” which has a pop/rock vibe that makes it instantly recognizable. Sometimes, the song tend to stick to a major genre, masterfully so. Tarja’s duet with Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz is a great example of this, with heavy sound and energetic vocals. What could turn out as a failed experiment in diversity is instead a textbook example of how to do diversity right. Because one thing stays, and that’s Tarja herself. Her identity shines through each and every song with a distinct style. This gives the opportunity to Tarja to cover even a hugely known song such as “Supremacy” and still give the audience something new and surprising with her interpretation and, at the same time, keeping the soul of the original version. Something that becomes instantly apparent from Tarja’s performance is that, through the years, she managed to add many different colours to her voice. We have full operatic vocals here, but also very high notes with a lot of twang in “Supremacy” and soft, sweet vocals in the ballad “The Living End”. It’s a complete album that retains all of the artist’s personal identity. And if that was not already enough, the surprise at the end of “Too Many” is definitely worth the rest of the album on its own. “The Brightest Void” is the second part of this double release and although, chronologically, it was released before “The Shadow Self”, it has to be considered its prequel because, musically speaking, carries on from where the second full-lenght left off, keeping the same vibe of diverse sounds and featuring more guest vocalists, such as Michael Monroe (ex-Hanoi Rocks) on “Your Heaven and Your Hell” and Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers playing drums on “Eagle Eye”. “An Empty Dream” is the highlight of this second album, with an ethereal arrangement contrasted by Tarja’s warm, emotional vocals. The album also includes a new mix of Tarja’s duet with Within Temptation “Paradise (What About Us)”, but the absolute surprise of this release is definitely the cover of James Bond’s “Goldfinger”, originally sung by legendary singer Shirley Bassey. The arrangement is absolutely fantastic, and Tarja’s voice shifts from lower notes to the heavier moments of the song with great confidence. Overall, Tarja demonstrated that she is not bound by genre labels and that she can elegantly put her own spin to anything she sings. This double release is a challenging work that never gets boring or repetitive; a treat for fans and a statement for anyone who ever doubted Tarja’s skills.

Rating – 95/100



“The Brightest Void”

  1. No Bitter End (Video Clip Version)
  2. Your Heaven and Your Hell (feat. Michael Monroe)
  3. Eagle Eye (feat. Chad Smith & Toni Turunen)
  4. An Empty Dream (Main theme from “Corazón Muerto”)
  5. Witch Hunt
  6. Shameless
  7. House of Wax (Paul McCartney cover)
  8. Goldfinger (James Bond main theme)
  9. Paradise (What About Us?) (feat. Within Temptation) (New Mix)


“The Shadow Self”

  1. Innocence
  2. Demons in You (feat.Alissa White-Gluz)
  3. No Bitter End
  4. Love to Hate
  5. Supremacy (Muse cover)
  6. The Living End
  7. Diva
  8. Eagle Eye
  9. Undertaker
  10. Calling From the Wild
  11. Too Many





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