The music business is in a severe state of flux right now with both large and small labels struggling to sell enough product and work out a new business model. This means that with the technology available to record music in high quality for a low cost and the social media revolution to get the marketing side covered more and more artists are doing their own thing in a variety of ways. This can even be difficult for websites like ours and Dark Sarah is a case in point.
Finnish soprano Heidi Parviainen is best known as the singer in Amberian Dawn, a symphonic Metal band she made four albums with before parting ways in 2012. Like many artists she had a dream of doing the music she wants to make, in this case a project called Dark Sarah about a woman who has been through hard times embracing the darkness inside her.
Musically this is a style Heidi describes as cinematic Metal, combining different elements of Metal, film scores and musical theatre. Obviously it is difficult to get the established labels to take a risk on a new venture in the current climate so Ms Parviainen has decided to go the crowdfunding route but make the album in three parts.
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This means that the album is released in three separate episodes and after hitting target number one this is episode 1. Hopefully you have got the idea so now I can review the music released so far which is what this is all about.
'Behind The Black Veil Episode 1' features four songs and starts with 'Save Me' which starts quietly with sweet, gentle vocals over an orchestral backing before building up to melodramatic crescendos bringing in the Metal band side of it and a chorus which sticks in your head. The vocals on this track are just beautiful and it has a sweeping grandeur to it which gives you some idea of the direction Dark Sarah as a project is going in.
'Poison Apple' is a slightly rockier tune but full of atmosphere and lush orchestration as well as some riffing guitars. 'Hide And Seek' is a ballad which ramps up the emotional melodrama with heartfelt vocals and beautiful piano before sweeping you away on a tidal wave of strings.
'Episode 1' ends on a duet as Manuela Kraller (ex Haggard/Xandria) joins the fun. 'Memories Fall' is a frenetic mixture of soprano vocals, sweeping strings and riffing guitars.
Verdict: From a UK perspective this can be difficult stuff to get your head around. I think this music could only have come out of Finland, a land where creative people seem to come up with ideas which the rest of us can only marvel at.
In truth Dark Sarah is closer to over the top musical theatre than metal most of the time and no one in the UK is doing anything like this. However Metal has always been about bombast and melodrama and Ms Parviainen's creation has all that in spades.
If you need a reference point this isn't a million miles away from ex Nightwish singer Tarja's solo material but Dark Sarah has a charm all of her own and if drama, epic grandeur and a touch of Metal sound interesting to you is well worth checking out.
The funding campaign for Episode 2 will start soon.