TARJA — My Winter Storm (review)

TARJA — My Winter Storm album cover Album · 2007 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
My Winter Storm is the second solo album from former Nightwish lead singer Tarja Turunen, here performing under just Tarja. While it is the second album it is actually the first release from her that returns to the more symphonic metal sounds of her former band, albeit in a less grand style. While I’ve personally found the compositions somewhat lacking here, fans can be rest assured that My Winter Storm contains a top notch vocal performance. Overall the songs on the album fall into two groups, classical and metal, although with one particular track aside, this isn’t actually a very heavy album from Tarja.

Putting aside the fact that the album could have been heavier, it is a decent enough album with some killer operatically voiced songs, but has several other faults, some of which are just plain stupid. The most annoying fault is that fact that My Winter Storm begins with a 27 second intro track which is as good as the same tune as at the start of the first proper song, I Walk Alone. What was the point in that I ask? It should have been one song and done with it. It would not be so bad, had not this process been repeated not once, but three more times with Seeking for the Reign/The Reign, The Escape of the Doll/My Little Phoenix and Sunset/Damned and Divine. This is such a stupid thing to do in my opinion, each intro flows into its song like it’s a part of the same composition, and I think the album would have sounded better if they had been.

Another fault is Tarja’s utterly ridiculous cover of the Alice Copper classic, Poison. I won’t go so far as to say that she murders it, but it sounds like she had a damn good try. She somehow manages to make a good song sound very cringe worthy to say the least.

The only song on My Winter Storm that instantly strikes me of being heavier and more metal than the rest is Ciaran's Well, which features a guitar tone which is twice as heavy as everything else on here. This album is all about Tarja’s voice, and as such, there are a lot of times when she focuses entirely on classical music such as The Reign and Damned and Divine. These are pretty nice pieces in their own right, especially vocally, but for a metal album I’m thinking that most may prefer more metal and less classical, even for a symphonic metal release.

Some songs are rather mediocre I’m afraid to say, especially I Walk Alone, Sing For Me and Minor Heaven. Some go a step below into decidedly below average territory, but none more so than Oasis, the only song on the album that Tarja composed all on her own. It’s just plain boring. Tarja is one of the best female singers ever to appear in metal but now that the Tuomas Holopainen partnership has been broken, My Winter Storm seems to showcase a Tarja that has lost the songs that truly made her great (though as a note here, her next album had very much superior writing to much Nightwish work). Despite some decent writing efforts between her and a host of others on My Winter Storm, I can’t really say there’s anything of the standard of the songs she sang for Nightwish that her listeners were used to hearing her sing.

The better songs on My Winter Storm are Lost Northern Star, Boy and the Ghost, Damned and Divine, and Ciaran's Well. The Boy and the Ghost I think is the best song, but it is actually one of the ones which hardly has any of the rock/metal elements. It’s Tarja’s superb vocal performance that wins it for me.

I would recommend this album without hesitation to a fan of Tarja’s voice that wouldn’t care about the faults I outlined, but those who come to My Winter Storm looking for Nightwish will not find it. It’s still a good album, to the point that I do enjoy it a fair bit, but unfortunately it took Tarja to make a third album (2010’s What Lies Beneath) before I was really convinced by her solo work, so I wouldn’t recommend this album as a starting point, whether or not you’re coming from Nightwish or not. It may be retroactive to say it now given that it's several years since the album was released and what you're reading is an updated review due to yours truly not being happy with my writing skill when I first published this, but I personally only advise hearing this album after the following What Lies Beneath.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 7.8/10)
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