OneMetal music REVIEW: Tarja – Act 1

Tarja – Act 1

End of an Era, the recording of Tarja Turunen’s final night as Nightwish’s singer has always been my favourite live DVD. Maybe it’s the powerful performances from four musicians who aren’t sure if they’ll get to play together again, maybe it’s the way that they are visibly awkward around their one oblivious bandmate, maybe it’s because that at the centre of all this drama Tarja Turunen was still symphonic metal’s finest voice. It’s possible that the title of Tarja’s new live album Act 1 is a response to End Of An Era, announcing loudly that Tarja’s stint in Nightwish was just a prologue to her career as a solo artist, all of which is covered in the two hour set that was recorded. While Act 1 is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray formats I’ve been listening to the CD version, so I’m only able to review the music. You’ll have to find out yourself how Tarja’s wardrobe looks in 1080p, but there’s already a snippet that has been officially released on Youtube.

If you only know of her by association with her old band then you’ll find that Tarja’s material is surprisingly different from Nightwish. While they were all about having an entire orchestra and a million layers of synths screaming at you at once, this is a much more low key affair. In some ways this works in Tarja’s favour as it gives her new band an identity of its own, rather than it just appearing to be a continuation of what came before. However, it is pretty clear that no one involved in the project is quite as proficient at writing as Nightwish mastermind Tuomas Holopainen. The only original song that really approaches the majesty of Once (Tarja’s last album with Nightwish) is the fantastic ‘Into The Sun’, but there are still some formidable songs like ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ and ‘Dark Star’. The stripped down nature of her material is most apparent when the inevitable ‘Nemo’ cover pops up; it translates much better to the live arena and is one of the peaks of the album.

As far as the live performance goes, everything is precise and carefully choreographed. In the process of being mixed, Act 1 has lost a bit of the fire and passion for performance that I remember seeing when the band performed in London a while ago. The instrumentalists get a bit more prominence than they do on the albums, and this perks up the songs that don’t have the power to be really impressive live – ‘Lost Northern Star’ in particular really gets a shot in the arm when compared with the original version.

Tarja manages to work in a surprising number of covers. Staples from her time in Nightwish ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, ‘Where Were You Last Night’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ all turn out pretty well, although whoever is singing the Phantom’s part really doesn’t have the voice to do it justice. The version of Whitesnake’s ‘Still Of The Night’ isn’t quite as impressive, Tarja’s voice may be fantastic, but it is just about as far from hair metal as you can get.

In short, Act 1 is a fine reproduction of a great concert. It definitely shows that Tarja is a force all of her own in the symphonic metal scene, unwilling to rest on her laurels. It doesn’t have the complex storm of emotion that has made End Of An Era stick in my mind, but it does promise a future for an excellent band. In my opinion, that is just as good.

Tarja’s Facebook:
EarMusic’s website:

Header photograph: Paul Harries

Bottom Line

A finely honed release from the undisputed queen of symphonic metal. Two hours might’ve been just a bit too ambitious as there is a bit of filler on here, but that doesn’t take away from the album’s many high points.

4/5 - Great, recommended

Find this article interesting?
Please be awesome and leave a comment. We live for comments :)