Review: Tarja – 'Act II'

that voice. ‘No Bitter End’, ‘500 Letters‘, and a stunning version of ‘Eagle Eye’ all fly past in a furious opening fifteen minutes. Tarja shouts “Grazie!” as the jazz-hands guitar intro of ‘Demons In You’ kicks in, then the riffs hit and the neck muscles get a work-out. Symphonic metal is all about bombast, but one of the real highlights on the album is ‘The Living End’. Tarja jokes about it being a campfire moment, although this is anything but a couple of dudes with acoustics singing ”Row, Row Your Boat’! It’s impossible to count all the different instruments in earshot, but the acoustic guitar, piano, drums, and some sort of bagpipe help give it a mystical feeling. Throw in some gorgeous backing vocals and a stunning string arrangement, and the end result is staggering. Tarja strips it back even further for a ten minute acoustic medley mid-set, and hearing her voice, “unplugged”, is a special moment. In stark contrast, there is the sheer metal-ness of ‘Calling From The Wild’, a riotous cover of Muse’s ‘Supremacy’, followed by a romp through a medley of her legacy with Nightwish. Seriously though, the cover of ‘Supremacy’ is crushing! The James Bond-like cinematic arrangements are massive. Turn the volume way up! Talk of James Bond would not be complete without mentioning the grandiose cover of ‘Goldfinger’. So gloriously over the top that it’s impossible not to smile when listening to it. Tarja meets Dame Shirley Bassey, with a stack of amps along for good measure. As the last strains of ‘Until My Last Breath’ fade out, you won’t have realised that two hours have passed. ‘Act II’ has many versions to ponder over, but the CD/Blu-Ray combo is very eye-catching indeed. Available now on Ear Music. Review: Dave  ]]>

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