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Dark Sarah - 2016 The Puzzle

ARTIST: Dark Sarah
ALBUM: The Puzzle
LABEL: Inner Wound Recordings
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Heidi Parviainen - vocals * Erkka Korhonen - guitar * Sami Salonen - guitar * Rude Rothstén - bass * Thomas Tunkkari - drums

Guests: Manuela Kraller as 'Fate', JP Leppäluoto as 'The Dragon', Charlotte Wessels as the 'Evil Siren Mermaid'

TRACK LISTING: 01 Breath * 02 Island In The Mist * 03 Little Men * 04 Ash Grove * 05 For The Birds * 06 Deep And Deeper * 07 Dance With The Dragon (feat. Jp Leppaluoto) * 08 Cliffhanger * 09 Aquarium (feat. Charlotte Wessels) * 10 Rain (feat. Manuela Kraller)



Dark Sarah is a Finnish affair which caught my attention on YouTube a few weeks back. They are an outfit which sits between several metal sub-genres. Progressive, Orchestral, Symphonic, and even Cinematic. I can think of several acts which come close, but not quite. Think Nightwish, Sirenia, Tarja Turenen and Dutchies Without Temptation. All good in their own right, but Dark Sarah offer up something different. Headed by Heidi Parviainen, who was the previous vocalist with Finnish metallers Amberian Dawn, she is a fully trained classical singer and has taken this project beyond the initial 2015 debut 'Behind The Black Veil'. Dark Sarah is in fact a character portrayed by Heidi. 'Sarah' having been left at the altar thus became a jilted bride, and releasing a darker side of her personality as revealed in both albums. It might be considered a concept album, similar maybe to Queensryche's 'Operation: Mindcrime' where the focus became the 'state of mind', but a 'concept' it is not.

The Songs
Two other compelling reasons for me to catch onto Dark Sarah is that they are from Finland, one of my favourite countries for delivering quality rock, plus the inclusion of former Urban Tale guitarist Errka Korhonen. As to the songs. Well, it's a hit and miss affair once I listened to the whole thing. The 2 minute intro 'Breath' could've been sourced from the 'Game Of Thrones' TV series, such is its cinematic (yes, you'll be reading this term quite often in this article) quality. Segueing into 'Island In The Mist', this track is full-on bombastic metal, but Heidi's lilting voice sounds at odds with the metallic barrage. 'Little Men' provides more doubling up of metal with powerful orchestration. 'Ash Grove' takes things to another level, I feel the arrangement is a lot more cohesive, and the guitar solo is great too. 'For The Birds' features flute work, and Heidi does her best Loreena McKennit impersonation. Not a bad track, a bit lighter than the previous efforts. 'Deep And Deeper' is a strange fusion of metal, symphonic elements and sweeping orchestration. I couldn't quite get into the Rock Opera duet 'Dance With The Dragon' with co-vocalist JP Leppäluoto. The video for this was rather ambitious so good on them for giving it a go. I much preferred the lush affair that was 'Cliffhanger'. This was very full when the music was rocking, and serene when slower/lighter passages were encountered. 'Aquarium' features Delain's Charlotte Wessels in her role as the Evil Mermaid Siren. Charlotte and Heidi combine for a stirring duel. The closer 'Rain' sees ex Xandria vocalist Manuela Kraller join the fray, on what is a flowing acoustic piece, with the two singers lifting the track toward a massive crescendo.

In Summary
'The Puzzle' is an album that mostly delivers on its promise. The symphonic metal genre has been operating for years now, and as far as GDM goes, it flies below our radars, which is something we'll have to adjust coming into 2017. Some other HM review sites have consigned the album as being nothing more than a piece of candy floss, which is a bit cruel, but hey, when it's mostly Neanderthals commenting on those sites, what do you expect? Signed to the same label as Swedish melodic metallers Enbound, Heidi and her crew drift about on a sea of melodic enchantment, and I'm sure this genre of rock music will move forward and become even more of a major player in years to come. As mentioned, there are some areas that probably need tinkering with before a third album is delivered, because 'The Puzzle' is warm in some parts, and predictably cold (the Finnish winter perhaps?) in others, but overall, I quite like it.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 01 2017 01:45:24
Dark Sarah - 2016 Little Men
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on January 01 2017 01:46:35
Dark Sarah - 2016 Dance With The Dragon
YouTube Video:
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