The title says it all! Opinions expressed here are those of the authors. Personal tastes may vary, and we are cool with that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

CD Review: My Winter Storm by Tarja

When NW parted their ways with Tarja back in 2005 I was shocked, because I saw them just 6 weeks before and nothing indicated that something is going on within the band. Well they are artists and their job is to pretend so not a surprise actually.

I admit I hadn't heard a single song from My Winter Storm until I purchased it. Ok maybe it was I Walk Alone but no more I swear! So when my lovely package from the biggest UK online shop arrived I was excited. I have an exclusive UK bonus track The Seer! (Discrimination! JK :D As far as I am aware, Universal released again regional version of MWS in my country with empty booklet).

Now I will rant a bit about the artwork and booklet. I like the cover and not a long time ago I found out, there are 3 characters included on the cover also, The Dead Boy, The Doll and The Phoenix. You just have to look pretty close. Cool idea. What I am not so happy about is the way, they put the lyrics there. I mean no titles on the top of every lyric. So people just like me, who tend to forget pretty fast what they read 10seconds before had to look frequently on the back of the CD to know, which lyrics they are reading now. The size of the font is ridiculously small. Writing from "one edge to another" is quite confusing, at least for me. I got lost so many times while trying to read the lyrics that I gave up and searched them on the Internet. Now you will tell yourself, that I am person who tries to find every bloody detail to complain about, but this who I am. Yes I do complain about it, because I see no sense in putting 4 photos in a row and then "sardine" poor lyrics and then do the same thing again. Why they couldn't simply put lyrics on one side each and on other photo remains a mystery to me. I would love to compare it to WLB but I can't. (Meh I really have to buy new WLB CD)

I didn't know what to expect from My Winter Storm to be honest. Since this was the very first full length Tarja's "baby" I rather expected nothing. As Tuomas says about AFF, that it's a demo and not an album, I would say the same about MWS. It clearly says (sings) from what kind of environment Tarja comes from and also draws the future musical directions of her forthcoming works. Another thing which remains a mystery to me (please feel free to enlighten me, my imagination sucks hard sometimes) are the intros. I see no point in having separate intros which are anyhow linked to the following songs since the longest one, Seeking for the Reign, has only 0:58sec. So I am not going to write about them.

So lets start with I Walk Alone - the first single was inspired by a musical motif in Requiem by Mozart. According to Tarja this song "describes her personality perfectly well and identifies her as a singer". I agree.

Lost Northern Star - for me this song is an attempt to sound as heavy as possible but it fails at times.

The Reign - it's nice slow song and I really appreciate that guitars were not included at the end of the song.

My Little Phoenix - another attempt to sound heavy. It sounds cool live though. But I skip it.

Boy and the Ghost - everytime I hear this song or see its title I grin. Why? Since I heard the original version of this song called Christmas card, I sing for myself instead of ‘’toy’’ ‘‘Christmas card’’. Just can't resist. This one doesn’t belong to my favourite ones. Skipping it.

Sing for Me - another slow song or call it ballad whatever. For me it sounds like "hey can you hear how high I can sing". I have this feeling of spinning head when she is singing “It’s getting hard to breathe” that is why I skip it. Just doesn’t do well to my health.

Oasis - the only song entirely composed by Tarja. I highly appreciate its Finnish lyrics. They add really nice touch to the whole song. In this song I don't mind "aaah ooooh". Maybe this is the reason, why I don’t like Montañas de Silencio, because MdS sounds like Oasis nr. 2.

Poison - makes me want to dance. Not headbanging. (my neck would simply not survive those movements) but another no-no cover in my opinion.

Our Great Divide – this is the most time-consuming song in my opinion. I feel lack of excitement in this song, that’s why I skip it regularly.

Damned and Divine - ok if my imagination is right now, it's about a vampire right? Well it would definitely fit into some crappy vampire-ish movies, soap operas etc.

Die Alive - the second single from MWS album. Well I like this song but I don't know how Tarja does it, but I have this strange urge to jump up and down or rock during the song. Great live song. One remark on this video. I can't stand it. The dogs, biting, ruined house. Waste of time for me.

The Seer - I heard the duet with Doro also. But I prefer more Tarja on vocals. It is nice, in my opinion rock song without any orchestra.

Minor Heaven - another ballad. Of all of the ballads I prefer this one. It sounds very nice live. I like the orchestral parts and mainly the beginning. I wish the guitar and drums were not included though. It would perfectly work without them.

Ciarán's Well - well this is definitely her heaviest song on the album. This one belongs on my list of the better songs on this album. I prefer when Tarja sounds "heavy". The high notes sound pretty good and I have to say it works pretty damn good live.

Calling Grace – this one is an acoustic piece. Nice but not breathtaking. It’s a filler song in my opinion. I would put it as a bonus track. It doesn’t fit with other songs.

Enough – this song was composed after MWS release and is included on extended version of the album. I had the chance to hear it live and it rocks my socks! I like it pretty much. This is the kind of song I would love Tarja to compose more. Also I find it laughable that Tarja is still denying the very obvious content of its lyrics. Suit yourself dear, but you won’t fool me. :)

Wisdom of Wind – I admit I have never managed to listen to entire song. I get bored after 2 minutes.

Tarja said herself many times that the guitars are not as heavy as they should be and I agree. When I heard most of these songs live, they sounded much heavier. (I am aware that songs do sound differently live!). Also I don't understand this strange urge to add drums and guitars to almost every ballad. They just spoil it for me and can harm the song more than help. 

In my opinion this is a good album to start with. Although I find the number of the slow songs quite high, it’s decent album. It has its positive and negative points but you won’t definitely find MWS on my list of favourite albums.      

My top songs are Minor Heaven, Die Alive and Enough.

4 characters of MWS

3 "hidden" characters on the covcer


Allyson said...

Oh, Lizzie, you kill me! Another great, honest review.

I didn't get any bonus tracks on my version of MWS and "Wisdom of Wind" was not included in my version, either.

I like the album art, but I agree with how the lyrics are printed - they are hard to read and to follow.

I agree that this is a demo-ish album. When I first heard it, I was quite surprised at how...I don't know how to put it, but "empty" it felt. WLB has a much fuller, more developed sound, whereas MWS seems quite "undeveloped" - if that makes any sense. I didn't really enjoy too many of the lyrics; they didn't really say too much to me, whereas WLB had fantastic lyrics, IMO.

My fave songs are "Minor Heaven", "I Walk Alone", and "Die Alive."

Lizzie said...

I know what you mean by "empty".
It is an album without "emotions" just to put it asaid after 3 or 4 listenings. In my opinion, the songs don't leave you with the "thinking" of the songs. You just go to another album.

Now I have to edit his post again, since last paragraph is missing again :D

Natalia said...

you two girls are crazy :P

I love this album! it includes beautiful melodies and it was a clever way to say bye bye nightwish, this is tarja and i will do my thing now. i love her ballads here. this is Tarja, we can see she is a ballad-holic and well, this is where MWS tends to..ballads :P weakest point: fans who expected her to copy/repeat nw or to play solely metal (i shall include you two here haha jk!)
still I must admit songwriting is quite immature but well this was a first step on a solo career, a nice beginning IMO!

Good review, anyway! ;)

Allyson said...

Natalia: no, I certainly didn't expect her to copy & repeat NW on her 1st solo album, I just thought that, overall, this album had an "emptiness" about it. There are definitely a lot of beautiful moments in it, for sure. I also don't think it's a bad album, just a little lacking in "wow factor." I still listen to it, though!!!

Lizzie said...

I didn't expect her to copy NW but since she has stayed in the same genre as them,(and she didn't annouce her first solo album will be classical) it is normal that fans expected her to sound also metal. I simply don't enjoy her voice in ballads. Although there are few I like e.g. Swanheart. But please lets not start any meaningless fight here because it is simply meaningless. We all like different things and that's the way it is supposed to be.

Allyson said...

I think the other thing to keep in mind is that MWS wasn't produced by Tarja as WLB was, and my impression is that Tarja didn't have as big a hand in the production & writing of all the songs the way she did with WLB, too. And I think it shows.

Lizzie said...

Yes that is also the truth. Also she has been saying that she was afraid or shy to present her opinions and "open herself" to composers who were total strangers to her.

Natalia said...

I never meant to start any fight over here. I was just kidding and when I said "fans who expected her to copy/repeat nw or to play solely metal (i shall include you two here haha jk!)" I didn't mean you wanted her to copy NW but that you wanted her to play only metal. English is not my mother tongue and maybe this brought you into confusion. Please, excuse me! And yes, we all like different things and that's what makes it interesting :)

Almagest said...

I think the complaint about the ballads having drums and guitars added is strange. Almost all NW ballads are that way; it's what you call a "power ballad". In fact the difference with MWS is actually the other way round for me: There are unusually many ballads without (or almost without) any "rock" elements at all! There are several purely acoustic songs!

I have to say I used to think that "Wisdom of Wind" was really boring for a long time - yes, pretty, but simply boring, just not memorable at all. Now that I have listened to it 9 times overall (says iTunes), over the course of two years, I think differently: It does have a structure and a melody you can remember, it just takes really long until the song opens up. I think it's because the song is composed in a more classical way, it seems fairly difficult to sing and such songs tend to be more difficult to remember as well.