Tarja – Rocking Heels: Live at Metal Church

Tarja – Rocking Heels: Live at Metal Church
Release Date: 11/08/23
Running Time: 59:54
Review by Simon Black

Tarja Turunen along with Nightwish founder Tuomas Holopainen can rightly lay claim to cementing the sound of Symphonic Metal into the format that it has today. Although Therion invented the concept (initially as a one-off experiment fusing Metal with Classical music to make a break from endless Death Metal fatigue), Nightwish really cemented that into its own sub-genre with the distinctive addition of Operatic female vocals into the sound. There have been a thousand copycats ever since, but those early albums really nailed it and the shockwaves from Tarja’s unceremonious sacking from the band she helped define are felt today. With that event nearly two decades behind her, she has not stood still and Tarja really has carved a successful solo career ever since, as well as many collaborations with other acts.

This release is something of a stopgap, as Tarja is currently touring the States and a lot of focus is currently on her upcoming Outlanders project with EDM maestro Torsten Stenzel. This was recorded live at Wacken church to a tiny audience of 300 people way back in 2016. The album consists of a dozen tracks comprised of eight covers of a bunch of classic Metal tracks that she rather likes, plus three of her solo songs and the inevitable Nightwish track. It’s acoustic but done in a distinctly classical vein, with Turunen accompanied by piano, cello and violin rather than the traditional Rock acoustic tropes. The covers are a surprising mix of Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, Rammstein, Megadeth, Slipknot and others, some of which you would not have expected to click with this sort of format.

And of course it absolutely works, because this is Tarja, and she could turn Slayer’s ‘South of Heaven’ into a heart-melting emotional ballad with no clue to its origins because that three and a half octave soprano range could melt rock and her emotional delivery is second to none. Linkin’ Park’s ‘Numb’ has been pushed as the single, and it’s fairly close to how the original was played live when they were still active but the rest of them catch you by surprise while still remaining faithful to the source material. It may be a stopgap album, but it deserves a wider audience for its richness and depth, and that unparalleled ability that Tarja has to tug your heartstrings live. 

‘Numb’ Official Live Video


01. Always With Me, Always With You (Joe Satriani)
02. Numb (Linkin Park)
03. Alias (In Flames)
04. Vermillion Pt. 2 (Slipknot)
05. Trust (Megadeth)
06. Ohne Dich (Rammstein)
07. Afterlife (Avenged Sevenfold)
08. The Living End (Tarja)
09. The Unforgiven (Metallica)
10. Sleeping Sun (Nightwish)
11. I Walk Alone (Tarja)
12. Ave Maria (Tarja)

Tarja Turunen – Vocals


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