Tarja — Best Of: Living The Dream (earMUSIC)

Can it really be 17 years since Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen-Cabuli parted company with symphonic metal powerhouse Nightwish?

Back then a well-publicised and bitter break-up did neither side any favours.

And even close friends of the fired frontwoman feared for her future.

They needn’t have worried.

Almost two decades down the line and one of the most talented voices in heavy music continues to push the boundaries and pull in the crowds.

Tarja’s haunting, multi-octave, classically influenced style has underpinned a series of stunning solo albums.

Her unique voice has become synonymous with the very best in power metal.

And fans across the world continue to flock to some of the most aurally and visually rich rock shows on the planet.

Away from the stage, Tarja is happily married with a daughter.

And despite suffering a stroke five years ago the genre-defying Finn — immortalised as ‘The Voice’ emoji in her home country — is in the form of her life.

The mid-noughties fallout resulting from the Nightwish split has become a distant memory.

Tarja is living for now, living for the moment and Living The Dream.

A robust compilation of her finest work is a timely reminder of the 45-year-old’s enduring talent and appeal.

This is the best of the best from one of the best in the business.

Eye on the prize with Eye Of The Storm

New single Eye Of The Storm — fusing Tarja’s Finnish heritage with her husband’s Argentinian roots — is a typically inspirational folk metal anthem.

And at a time when the focus is very much on the past, showcasing the present is an astute move.

For make no mistake: Living The Dream marks the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, where Tarja is concerned. 

But this is a celebration of a varied and visceral body of work stretching back to 2007’s dazzling My Winter Storm.

And that’s where this riotous retrospective really kicks off.

The irony of lead single I Walk Alone’s piercing title wasn’t lost on loyal Tarja acolytes two years after the Nightwish split.

Even now its unlikely juxtaposition of self-isolation and self-confidence rings true with those enamoured by the singer’s remarkable evolution.

Elsewhere, Living The Dream’s standout moments come thick and fast.

Skip to the reworked version of Falling Awake, from 2010’s What Lies Beneath, and it’s impossible to avoid being swept up in a maelstrom of unrelenting metal.

A scorching solo, courtesy of former Five Finger Death Punch shredder Jason Hook, perfectly complements the most powerful vocal here.

Then there’s Living The Dream‘s second best collab.

What do you get when you match Tarja with Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz?

The answer is the deliciously devilish Demons In You from 2016’s The Shadow Self.

The third single from an album inspired by Eurythmics alumna Annie Lennox allows two of the most recognisable female voices in metal to let rip.

And ‘Tarlissa’ leave an indelible mark on this most majestic of collections.

Living The Dream is living proof that metal’s answer to Sarah Brightman just gets better and better.

I Feel Immortal sings Tarja seven tracks in. Here’s hoping.