CD Reviews

Dark Sarah - 'The Puzzle'

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 13, 2018    
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Not as immediate as the début but never the less a decent follow-up.

This is the sophomore solo album from the ex-Amberian Dawn Soprano Heidi Parviainen. I waxed lyrical about her 2015 début which was a concept album based around the protagonist Sarah and her struggles between her split personality due to traumatic events in her life after being jilted at the altar. This is a continuation of that epic story as the evil silver trees' bark breaks into pieces and causes Dark Sarah's soul to do likewise. She did not die but was left in a loop between two worlds, between life and death.

Guitarist Erkka Korhonen (Northern Kings/Ari Koivunen), after guesting on the début, is back once more alongside returning bassist Rude Rothstén, with the band line-up completed, on this occasion, by fellow guitarist Sami-Petri Salonen and drummer Thomas Tunkkari. Once again Parviainen has worked with Mikko P. Mustonen (Delain/Sonata Arctica/Ensiferum) on lyrics, production, arrangements, orchestration and mixing and sonically it's another sterling effort.

Manuela Kraller (ex-Xandria vocalist), after dueting on the superb 'Memories Fall' from the début 'Behind The Black Veil', is called upon for a second time on the epic and dramatic 'Rain' that is both Folky and melodic. Whereas Tony Kakko (SA) and Inga Scharf (Van Canto) also featured on duets on '...Veil', this time the services of JP Leppäluoto (Charon/Northern Kings) and the amazing Charlotte Wessels (Delain) were invited to sing.

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Leppäluoto's performance with Parviainen on 'Dance With The Dragon' has an Opera-like interplay between the two that is very dramatic and melodic all making for a compelling song. The video filmed for this number really brings it to life. Similarly, Wessels adds a dramatic interpretation of the cold, bewitching sea on 'Aquarium' and the lyric video that accompanies this song really adds a different dimension to it – it's well worth watching.

The other song Parviainen's filmed for video is 'Little Men' and it has a bouncy rhythm and fantasy 'Alice In Wonderland'-type feel that I consider was pretty spot on when I viewed it, helping me make sense of the story. Elsewhere there is the urgent rhythm of 'Island In The Mist', the faster-paced heavier rhythm of 'Ash Grove' and the Progressive nature and accompanying flute on 'For The Birds', all with Parviainen's crystal clear Soprano and lilting melody.

Not as immediate as the début but never the less a decent follow-up. In addition, Jan Yrlund's artwork of the four singers is also worthy of note.

Carl Buxton

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