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Dark Sarah – Behind the Black Veil
Written by Eastcoaster   
Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Dark Sarah - CD Review
Behind the Black Veil

 


Dark Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

CD Info
Episode 1
2014
Self-Released
4 Tracks
English Lyrics


I always enjoy and appreciate when female singers decide to strike out on their own in order to follow a dream that they have. Such is the case for Dark Sarah, the alter ego of Heidi Parviainen (ex-Amberian Dawn). Add to this the fact that Dark Sarah will be performing at Metal Female Voices Fest in October, you have the makings of an album with great potential. This episode 1 contains only four songs, but they are quite a set of songs! The album is a combination of gothic metal, I mean, with the name Dark Sarah that would be expected. It also includes symphonic metal as well as cinematic music.

The makeup of Dark Sarah is quite interesting since it includes some previous members of Amberian Dawn. Besides Dark Sarah (Heidi), there is Jukka Koskinen (Wintersun) playing bass guitar. Lauri Kuussalo provides the drum part with Sami-Petri Salonen also on guitar. Additional bonuses to Episode 1 are guest vocalist Manuela Kraller (ex-Xandria) and Kasperi Heikkinen (U.D.O., Merging Flare) on guitar. Heidi also teamed up with Emy Frost who composed the music with Heidi’s lyrics and Mikko P. Mustonen who provided the arrangements.

Behind the Black Veil is also a concept album that is being presented in three parts. Heidi explains the setting for this album as follows:

“Dark Sarah’s story Behind the Black Veil tells a story about a young woman called Sarah. She is left at the altar by her husband and she almost has a mental breakdown but instead something wakes up inside her and she changes to another person, her meaner half: Dark Sarah.”

Another unique characteristic to this album, besides the fact that it is in three episodes, is that Heidi turned to crowdsourcing for funds to produce this album. She obviously was successful for Episode 1 and also for the upcoming Episode 2. I am sure that she had some fears when starting this project, and that she is happy so far because her campaigns have been successful.

The opening track, “Save Me,” is both symphonic and cinematic in scope. With this song, the stage is set for Dark Sarah to emerge. This song besides being the opening number, was used to promote Episode 1 for the campaign, and has a video as well. It starts out very mournful before Dark Sarah comes in to question what happened at the altar. Her voice is very soft and clear as it and the instrumental part rises up to the chorus. When the chorus arrives, it has a very classical orchestral sound. Behind the vocal part is a full symphonic orchestra sound punctuated in the middle with a symphonic metal sound. The melody is tossed back and forth between the vocal and instrumental parts and then within the instrumental parts. The lyrics set the tone especially the first verse which is:

LOOK AT MY BLEEDING HEART.
SEE THE TEARS, YOU CAUSED THESE SCARS.
CONFUSED AND LONELY,
I GUESS I WAS IN THIS ONLY.
WHY DID YOU TRICK ME THIS WAY
WHEN I WAS PLANNING HAPPY DAYS?

The link to the video can be found here.

“Poison Apple” follows and it has a very cinematic start with haunting strings with light percussion. Then the metal part of the song takes over with the driving heavy guitar sound and drums. The lyrics show how Dark Sarah plans revenge on the person who jilted her. Also, it is very refreshing to hear Sarah’s voice so very clear and distinct. There is a very nice guitar solo before the chorus is repeated for the last time. The first verse and chorus lyrics are very telling:

DOWN IN THE CELLAR I´M MAKING MY POISON FOR YOU.
THIS STUFF THAT I MAKE WILL STOP YOU AND END THIS FOR GOOD.
I´M NOT BITTER I´M JUST BITTER SWEET.
HIDING IN THE SHADOWS I SEE YOUR DEFEAT!
DOWN IN THE CELLAR I´M MAKING MY POISON FOR YOU. YOU FOOL!

I SEE YOU RUNNING TO THE WOODS, RUNNING TO YOUR DOOM!
I SEE YOU FADING OUT FOR GOOD, FALLING DOWN. YOU FOOL!
YOU CAN’T HURT ME NOW!

The next to last song, “Hide and Seek,” is quite scary when you look at and listen to the lyrics. It describes a person slowly going insane or wondering if it is happening. The ability to look inside the mind, and how one might descend into a darker place, is very scary indeed. In a way, it reminds me of Vita Nova’s “A Scary Place.” It opens with the person questioning themself over broken chords which are played by the piano. The piano part keeps returning throughout the song with an orchestral movie like part played in between. The sparse instrumental sound plays nicely against the vocal and complements the desolation of the lyrics which are:

I NEED YOUR LIGHT, I NEED YOUR GUIDANCE - SOMETHING THAT TAKES AWAY THIS PAIN.
I WAS SINCERE THE OTHERS WERE LYING - SO WHERE ARE YOU GOD? I´M GOING INSANE.

I TRIED TO BE MYSELF AND YOU DESPISED ME AND WHEN I WAS NOT, IT WAS STILL THE SAME.
I´VE GOT NO POWER TO DISGUISE YOU WHEN YOU GOT ME INFERNALLY IN YOUR GAME,
WHEN YOU GOT ME INFERNALLY IN YOUR GAME.

MAYBE I WAS HAPPY
WHEN MY DREAMS WERE GUIDING ME.
AND MAYBE I,
I WAS SAD.
YOU THINK I´M PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK
BUT YOU´LL NEVER FIND ME
- NEVER AGAIN.

SO MAYBE I WAS HAPPY
WHEN MY DREAMS WERE GUIDING ME.
AND MAYBE I,
I WAS SAD.
YOU THINK I´M PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK
BUT YOU´LL NEVER FIND ME,
YOU NEVER WILL.

My favorite song in this Episode 1 would have to be “Memories Fall.” This song not only has all the elements of Symphonic Metal and Cinematic instrumental sound, but it also has Manuela Kraller as guest vocalist. Manuela is “Fate” in the song and she helps Sarah to begin anew as the “Memories Fall.” This song brings the best of both Genres together. The symphonic metal provides the driving force underneath the vocal duet. Both voices complement each other nicely with neither voice overpowering the other. The duet part is really nice when they have the standard chord resolution occurring in the lower part. This is classical music writing at its best. The final symphonic staccato rhythmic chords provide the fitting ending to the song. I am providing a link to video for this song.

There are too many good aspects to this album/episode not to like it, or add it to one’s library. Even though it is only four songs, they are each well written and add to the telling of the story. The writing (music and lyrics) is very good and the arrangements only add to the strength of the album. Guest soloist Manuela Kraller is a definite plus to the album. The instrumentalists also add their expertise. I also admire Heidi for having the strength to use crowdsourcing for the total project and to do so after going solo. I, for one, am looking forward to the next two episodes and yes, I have contributed to the first two episodes.

9 / 10

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