Album Review: Tarja – Act II

Tarja is a very diverse and charismatic singer, with a voice that’s absolutely one of a kind. Her dynamic and far-reaching vocal sound is inspired by classical music and opera, while her music is also rooted in hard rock and metal. Her most recent release, Act II, is particularly striking. On the one hand, this release feels like a step forward, but it is also a retrospective, looking back on Tarja’s lengthy career and extensive background. This record is a great follow-up to – you guessed it – “Act I,” which was received really well with critics and fans throughout the world. Released across multiple media (such as CD and vinyl), the project features a collection of amazing live recordings, specifically featuring performances recorded in Italy at the charming Teatro Della Luna in Milan.

Her soprano voice has a vast dynamic range, and she never fails to create a very ethereal and dreamlike atmosphere with her music, in conjunction with the stark cinematic vibes of her song arrangements. From heavy rock tracks to somber gothic-influenced tunes with a neoclassical edge, Tarja has a very unique way to combine various genre into a style that feels very much like “her own language.” These performances are extraordinarily consistent, as Tarja seems to be able to fill every single note with drama, pathos, and emotion.

The listening experience is absolutely amazing, and the show offers a very diverse and engaging scenario, making for a rollercoaster of a performance. This isn’t the kind of act featuring the same type of songs throughout the entire setlist: she carefully builds the playlist of each show as to enhance the flow of the performance, much like a theatrical piece that climaxes to its most dramatic scene. Stand-out moments such as “Lucid Dreamer” really highlight the most emotional side of Tarja’s singing, while other tracks, such as “Love To Hate” explore the singer’s darkest and most unapologetic tone. “Demons In You” is probably my favorite track on this release, and it stands out with its unique arrangement and intense song structure.

The setlist is filled with many beautiful moments, which will undoubtedly please all of her fans, whether they have been following her since her early days, or they just discovered their music. In addition to the outstanding performances and Tarja’s amazing skills (and the talent of her bandmates, of course), the recording and production of this release are also fantastic. The concert recordings are really well-executed and expertly mixed. If you know anything about audio production, you probably know that it is not an easy to ask to let a live recording shine through and represent the fullness of a show. In this case, it feels like being there, if you have the luxury of listening to this on a pair of great headphones or a great system.

Tarja is a one-of-a-kind artist. There is something special about a performer who can combine her excellent classical training with her love for metal and rock music, without really compromising her artistic vision and integrity. She shines in a live setting, and “Act II” is a perfect example of her prowess and ability to deliver an emotionally charged, charismatic show. She knows when to make it atmospheric and sultry, but she also knows when to let the rock riffs do the talking!

Release Date: July 27, 2018
Run Time: 1:57:02
Label: earMUSIC

Track Listing:
1. No Bitter End (Live)
2. 500 Letter (Live)
3. Eagle Eye (Live)
4. Demons in You (Live)
5. Lucid Dreamer (Live)
6. Shameless (Live)
7. The Living End
8. Calling from the Wild (Live)
9. Supremacy (Live)
10. Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – the Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer (Medley) (Live)
11. Goldfinger (Live)
12. Deliverance (Live)
13. Until Silence – the Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone (Medley) (Live)
14. Love to Hate (Live)
15. Victim of Ritual (Live)
16. Undertaker (Live)
17. Too Many (Live)
18. Innocence (Live)
19. Die Alive (Live)
20. Until My Last Breath (Live)

Final Score



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