Some of you may recognise the name Tarja as the (former) lead singer of Nightwish. According to the mighty Wikipedia (and who am I to disagree?) Nightwish essentially defined the genre of opera metal. Is From Spirits And Ghosts (Score For A Dark Christmas) an operatic metal Christmas album? Well, almost. Operatic, yes. Metal… not really.
The clue to how this album sounds is in the bracketed subtitle (Score For A Dark Christmas). It feels more like a score from a movie than a collection of jolly holiday tunes that families listen to while gathered round a roaring mp3 player. We are talking big orchestra, big production and big operatic vocals. A cinemascope Christmas. And “dark”? Definitely. I didn’t think it was possible to create a downbeat version of “Feliz Navidad” but Tarja does it while still managing to sound awesome.
A few of the highlights (if that is the right term for such an atmospheric offering) are “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (see video below), “We Three Kings, “Deck The Halls” and the aforementioned “Feliz Navidad”.
The album opens with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. It begins with atmospheric vocals soaring over pulsing notes and the rumbling menace of the orchestra. This Blade Runner-ish start majestically builds to a triumphantly bombastic middle that reminded me of Pirates of Caribbean. (Nothing says Christmas like Caribbean pirates!) It then draws to a close with a beautifully controlled quiet section.
With “We Three Kings” I was transported to a Victorian Christmas. Not a sanitised Christmas card Victorian England but a widescreen vision of a dark Dickensian Christmas.
“Deck the Halls” creates a creepy choral Christmas vibe. Never has a children’s choir singing Christmas carols sounded less angelic.
From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a dark Christmas) is released on November 17th, 2017 on earMUSIC as the following formats; 1CD digipak, 1LP Gatefold (180g, black) and Digital. The Official Store for a dark Christmas offers a wide variety of exclusive, limited fan items and bundles.
Plug in your headphones, turn up the volume and let Tarja fill your head with visions of a deliciously dark Christmas.