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Tarja Turunen has dispelled any notion that her dismissal from Nightwish (voluntary or otherwise) was a nail in the coffin for her career. After My Winter Storm in 2007, Tarja emerges like a phoenix once more with her latest opus What Lies Beneath, which will certainly show a nice progression from her first solo effort. Her resounding operatic vocals set the standard, initiating a literal onslaught of latecomers and wannabes that have flooded the scene. There is only one Tarja Turunen and again she proves it here.
This album is what progressive gothic metal should be: fun, stylish music that takes itself not too seriously, but harbors enough thought and vibrant padding to set it above the rest. The number of imitators of this woman is both astounding and sickening, but she proves there’s only one lady of the manor on tracks like “Anteroom of Death”, which will leave you feeling as if “Bohemian Rhapsody” has just been redone and “I Feel Immortal” which pulls out a Kari Rueslatten-era 3rd and the Mortal feel so perfectly centered. While not trying to show off her range to inappropriate plateaus, Tarja lifts the spirit and the expectations with every passing track. She is a perfectionist when it applies to her output and What Lies Beneath haunts the dimmest recesses of your soul should you allow for such pleasantries.
With such careful crafting and fluidity to this music, What Lies Beneath catapults the gothic rock scene back to prominence and glory in the wake of a million bands attempting to dilute it with transparent, plastic efforts. There’s nothing really overly reminiscent of her Nightwish days simply due to the lack of the bombastic nature of Wishmaster, but evident in tracks like “In for a Kill” is the same glorious power that spawned so many pretenders and set this Finnish lady of seemingly demure stature so high over the realm that she appears more as a goddess than a typical goth-metal vocalist. If one cannot be swayed and subdued by her magical voice that manages to run the spectrum between traditional heavy metal and sincere power ballad with disturbing ease then one simply must not get it.
In just under an hour, What Lies Beneath ascends to the very height of cautious perfection; Tarja simply delivers some of her most powerful vocals ever on this release and manages to tap into the emotional epicenter of the melodic metal scene just perfectly. “Little Lies” is one of my favorites in a near-flawless album due in large part to its simplistic jaunt through symphonic hard edged metal. What can’t be stressed enough is that in a grand infinity of female singers simply lacking the talent and range, Miss Turunen decimates the rest in one fell swoop of that amazing sound she calls a voice, completely and unapologetically.
(Originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)