Tarja – My Winter Storm

     The second album (as described in the review of NightwishDark Passion Play) that I just didn’t want to like but did despite my greatest effort to despise it.

     I have read various reviews of My Winter Storm; be they written by Metal critics or by John Q. Public listeners, and, to a degree, I can agree with some aspects of the negative reviews – but I do not agree with the main one, that the album is not heavy enough.
     If you purchased the CD and chanced to look at the pictures that are part of the inlay card, you would see that there is no reason for this album to be musically heavy at all times because the content of the lyrics is heavy enough.
     Taking a learned lesson from Tuomas Holopainen, Tarja goes a little schizophrenic and a whole lot multiple personality on us. Not for real but in that she plays various characters, pieces of her, if you will, that make up the entire. Doing this brings a depth to the songs on this recording that many musicians would never, ever dare to go.
     Anger and love are strong emotions, Tarja digs deeper and gets to the bottom of them, the underlying feelings that make up the emotions and what she experienced that caused them. She does so by playing four seperate roles; The Dead BoyTuomas Holopainen‘s character that is him (I sometimes refer to this album as The Dead Girl album). The Doll – herself in the role she has been put (the other’s are referred to as toys, and she is too when speaking of herself in the third person – find out the history of Nightwish and you will understand). The Phoenix – Again, herself, but becoming. The Queen Of Ice – herself, but not in the truest sense (could be what she has been portrayed to have been; imagined – false, real – but exaggerated to fantastical proportions).

     There is nothing wrong with this album musically. It is very personal. Whether she is singing about herself, someone else, or using a storyline (Lost Northern StarCiarán’s Well), the music reflects the lyrics, which are all over the place. Hence, the album is eclectic, reflecting the many moods that fell upon Tarja while writing the songs.
     Even the seeming out of place cover of Alice Cooper, Poison, is, in Tarja‘s voice, saying something that permeates most of the album, and, one read through the lyrics you come to understand that, like Nightwish‘ song, Bye Bye Beautiful, Tarja is singing her sadness and feelings of being betrayed to Tuomas. The song Boy And The Ghost is an example:

wake up, wake up:
there’s an angel in the snow
look up, look up:
it’s a frightened dead boy

     In the passage above, the 2nd line is a refernce to the Nightwish song Sacrament Of Wilderness, in which the lyrics describe Nightwish and its members oath to each other:

Naked in midwinter magic
Lies an angel in the snow

a sacrament by a campfire

     By comparing Tarja‘s lyric to that of Nightwish, you can see the cause of her sadness and why she may feel betrayed.

     My Winter Storm had three releases: a standard release (however, the U.K. and U.S. editions are different), limited release (has comes with a DVD of two versions of I Walk Alone video and a making of the video and making of the album), and a fan collector’s edition. Of these, the limited edition is the most comprehensive version to get and also the one you will most likely have to bid on on EBay, same goes for the fan edition.

track listing for My Winter Storm (U.S. Edition):
01: Ite, Missa Est
02: I Walk Alone
03: Lost Northern Star
04: Seeking For The Reign
05: The Reign
06: The Escape Of The Doll
07: My Little Phoenix
08: Boy And The Ghost
09: Sing For Me
10: Oasis
11: Poison
12: Our Great Divide
13: Sunset
14: Damned And Divine
15: Die Alive
16: Minor Heaven
17: Ciaran’s Well
18: Calling Grace
19: You Would Have Loved This (live)
20: Damned And Divine (live)

     Other songs released as singles and on the limited and/or fan edition:
Damned Vampire & Gothic Divine*
I Walk Alone (Artist version)*
I Walk Alone (In Extremo Remix)*
The Seer**
The Seer (Featuring Doro Pesch)***
Enough***

     I for one like the outpouring of emotion in the vocals and lyrics. That they are mostly about (in influence), and speaking to her old bandmates is of no consequence since the mood of the songs does not mask the emotion conveyed in the vocals. And, this should come as no shock to anyone, this is an album done by a lady who is known as The Voice Of Finland; the music is entirely incidental. Agree or disagree as you may, but, the vocal expression as an instrument is so much stronger than the instruments behind it.

* released on the Limited Edition.
** released on the U.K. Edition.
*** released on Fan Edition.

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