Review of Tarja’s “What Lies Beneath”

First review by Brian Kelman and second review by Jessica
© Ethereal Metal Webzine

With the hollow shell of the parody that is her old turf
fading quickly in the rear view mirror, What Lies Beneath continues Tarja’s
journey in the exploration of her eclectic fusion of classical, rock and metal
music that was begun on My Winter Storm. What Lies Beneath makes it perfectly
clear that she is carving out and defining her own particular niche in the
symphonic rock/metal scene. Tarja has pushed the boundaries out a little
further forcing her countless imitators to play catch up once again. There is
only one Tarja Turunen in this world and she proves it once again here.

What Lies Beneath is a concept album; it explores what lies
beneath the mask each of us wears every day. Often that social mask hides our
inner selves that only a few, if any, are allowed to see. What is revealed can
only be inferred by what we do and what is revealed in the tiny recesses of our
being can be quite dark and foreboding. In contrast to the focus of the subject
matter in general, What Lies Beneath is a thoughtful, fun and stylish musical
production to listen to in particular.

The basic multi-layered formula is familiar: Tarja’s
powerful vocals (discussed below) with catchy verses and choruses, big
symphonic backdrops, and the band’s guitars, bass and percussion having a much
heavier, edgier more ‘metallic’ sound (as compared to those on My Winter
Storm). As a result, the heavy guitar, bass riffs and crashing percussion are
offset by symphonic and/or piano interludes, the cello, and a strong classical
feel provided by Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and Choir. Furthermore, the
strength of the song writing and overall performance creates a solid foundation
for an exhilarating ride on Tarja’s vision of symphonic hard edged metal.

Tarja’s instrument is front and centre as one would expect.
Her vocals are more passionate, melodic, smooth, dynamic and emotive than ever.
What Lies Beneath represents her most powerful singing performance to this
point. In a world of countless imitators and talentless pretenders made in the
studio, Tarja once again demonstrates that she is by far the best female
vocalist in the Metal World (and in other genres for that matter). The disc is
barely big enough to contain her. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. If one
cannot allow themselves to be caressed and swayed by Tarja’s magical voice as
well as be knocked onto our collective rear ends when she unleashes her full
vocal power–running the spectrum between traditional rock/metal and sincere
power ballad with disturbing ease–then one simply is not willing to get it.

What Lies Beneath is indicative of Tarja undergoing the
process of shedding her musical and decision-making inhibitions and the
constraints of getting her musical vision across to those around her. Tarja
earned the opportunity to choose the people to play with, write with and to
produce her own album. This increasing creative freedom has resulted in a mature,
sincere, confident and enthusiastic album. Listeners of the album will be able
to sense this creative awakening in the way one can observe the process of a
blooming rose (preferably in time lapse photography). What Lies Beneath is a
stage in that process that has continued unabated up to and including her most
recent album, Colours In The Dark.

Overall Rating: 5/5

—Brian Kelman

What Lies Beneath, the second solo album by Tarja, which
came out summer 2010, and as promised, the album is a much heavier album, and in
typical Tarja fashion, you get a few other songs that are slow and show the
depth of her musical experience. That is what I feel is the strength of this
album and has been a theme to offer her fans a wide variety of styles. We each
have our own taste in music and an album like this may have a few songs that
are not your favorites but it can also expose you to a new style of music that
you didn’t know you liked. One would think trying to mix so many styles and
instruments into one album could cause things to get meshed together and
confusing. However, “What Lies Beneath” brings it all together in one
harmonious package.

We all know that Tarja use to sing for Nightwish and I think
trying to find your own sound in a solo career can be very difficult. The vocals
have become more unique and I think she is finding her own sound that
says,“Hey! This is Tarja.” The guys in Nightwish should feel like
idiots for letting her go. Oh I should not have said that. Oh well. The heavy
aspect of the album will definately have all the metal heads banging their
heads, while the slower songs will touch you emotionally.

Perhaps that is what makes “What Lies Beneath” great, is
that no matter what style of music she performs, Tarja always puts her heart
and soul into every song. This is what makes the album more then just an album,
but a small piece of Tarja’s soul, allowing her to connect with people from all
musical styles on a personal and emotional level. I recommend this album to
anyone who enjoys a heart felt performance with variety. So give this album a
try because I guarantee you, there will be no regrets. The only regrets
there’ll be is that one band that gave her up.

Overall Rating: 5/5

— Jessica Clingempeel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: