Tarja - 'Left In The Dark'

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Tarja - 'Left In The Dark'

All in all it’s probably one for collectors but is certainly capable of standing on its own merits.

Any new Tarja release is greeted with a huge fanfare in these parts as the Queen Of Symphonic Metal is treated like a deity and deservedly so. Tarja’s music touches an enormous number of people in a way that those who dislike her style of music will never understand, so it’s fair to say I will be preaching to the converted.

This release features alternative versions of every song on her album ‘Colours In The Dark’ (reviewed by me in issue #59) except for one – her cover version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Darkness’, which is replaced by ‘Into The Sun’ which was first featured on her live album/DVD release ‘Act 1’ and also released as a digital-only single.

Chronologically, first song ‘Victim Of Ritual’ is the first demo recorded straight after the writing process in Stockholm and is bass and guitar heavy sans orchestral embellishment. Next up ‘500 Letters’ is an acoustic version that Tarja played live at Vorterix Radio in Buenos Aires with Julian and Peter Barrett from her band on guitar. Tarja is also a dab hand on piano and combined with her clear vocal, it’s an intriguing version of a wonderful soaring melodic song.

‘Lucid Dreamer’ is a previously unreleased demo, slightly slower than the finished version with strings and without the ‘dream sequence’ that was added on ‘Colours…’. Then you have an unreleased demo progression of ‘Never Enough’ which has a lovely lilting mid-section. Shorn of all the bombast and dark, heavy instrumentation, I actually prefer this version to what it became. Another previously unreleased demo of ‘Mystique Voyage’ shows how Tarja hummed the vocal guide line to the song that eventually ended up with a combination of English and Spanish lyrics.

‘Into The Sun’ replaces ‘Darkness’ in the running order and although a download code was available for the studio version of the song on the special edition of the album, it was never officially released on CD until now. It’s a stunningly gorgeous ballad that should have been on all CD versions of ‘Colours…’ in my opinion.

‘Deliverance’ is the entire score without vocals as Tarja wanted people to hear James Dooley’s orchestral arrangements, followed by the full orchestral version of ‘Neverlight’ (bonus track on iTunes version of ‘Colours…’) that makes it sound heavier and has an added guitar solo from Julian Barrett.

The beautiful ballad ‘Until Silence’ is a measured acoustic version also from the Vorterix Radio sessions and ‘Medusa’ finishes the album with Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld’s vocals on the original replaced by Tarja herself.

All in all it’s probably one for collectors but is certainly capable of standing on its own merits, especially with the sumptuous ‘Into The Sun’ on this release.

Carl Buxton

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