DARK SARAH - A New Day Dawns

May 13, 2015, 4 years ago

By Kelley Simms

feature heavy metal dark sarah

DARK SARAH - A New Day Dawns

The idea for cinematic metal band Dark Sarah germinated when classically-trained soprano singer Heidi Parviainen was concluding her tenure in Finnish symphonic metal band Amberian Dawn, where she held the vocal spot from 2006 to 2012. Ms. Parviainen’s new project derived from a single lyric from a song she was working on at the time. The song “Save Me,” is the opening track from its debut release, Behind The Black Veil. The character in the song is named Sarah, which as Ms. Parviainen explained that in ancient times, means princess. So in this instance, the name Dark Sarah means a dark princess. 

“The idea for her divided persona actually came from the first lyrics I wrote for this project,” Parviainen said. “In the music, the harmony of the chorus is in major (scale) and when I tried to figure out why the music is in major and the story is sad, I knew there had to be something behind the text, too. The whole concept and leading idea for the story was born from “Save Me.””

Behind the Black Veil is a brooding concept album divided into three episodes that tell the story of Sarah, who faces a traumatic crisis in her life. Sarah’s riding an emotional roller coaster throughout the disc, which consists of many twists and turns as she deals with betrayal, trauma and revenge.

“Sarah faces one of the biggest crises of her world when her (soon-to-be) husband leaves her at the altar and leaves with another woman straight from church,” Parviainen said. “Sarah thinks she’s going to die, but instead something wakes up inside of her and she changes into her evil side persona — Dark Sarah. The album follows her struggle between these two personalities. It is kind of a psychological growth story with fairy tale-like features.”

The music that graces Behind The Black Veil is a mixture of many ingredients, and the construction of all these elements adds to the dramatic storyline and dark atmosphere.

“We talked and figured out the possibilities with Mikko P. Mustonen, the musical producer, and we wanted to create a lot of drama with orchestrations,” Parviainen said. “On this album, to also give them (orchestrations) more space than normally on symphonic albums, the instruments like guitars, have a lot more space. When the story started to form, we kind of started to build the music more around it.”

The reason why the album sounds so breathtaking and theatrical is due to its robust production from the aforementioned Mustonen, who creates a swirling dynamic that is as equally clean and pristine as it is heavy and dark.

“He is the man behind Dark Sarah´s sound,” Parviainen said. “He has had the idea very crystal clear in his mind even sometimes when I doubted some songs and how they will work out. But I put my trust in him and gave him quite free hands with the production, and I´m glad that I did. It is almost the same with other artists who have been working on this project like photographers, digital artists, video production, dress designers and more. They have had the story as their main support and guideline, and this is what many people by bringing their expertise together can produce — Dark Sarah in its whole.”

There are a few dazzling duets with guest vocalists on Behind The Black Veil who help bring the story of Dark Sarah to life in dramatic fashion, including Manuela Kraller (ex-Xandria), Inga Scharf (Van Canto) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica).

“The guests play certain parts in the story,” Parviainen said. “I met Manuela and Inga at the Out of the Dark tour in 2011 and back then we already spoke about doing some things together in the future. The possibility came with Dark Sarah. When I knew that we would need a man guest on the final song, the first one that came to my mind was Tony. He has worked with our guitarist Erkka (Korhonen) on Northern Kings.”

Although Behind The Black Veil is released by Inner Wound Recordings, the album was funded through IndieGoGo in three separate campaigns. More and more these days, bands are finding that this is a feasible way to fund an album, even if the band is signed to a label. 

“It is really hard nowadays to get a record deal and with a new project, a new style and nothing really to show, it is even more impossible,” Parviainen said. “I also knew that this kind of album would cost a lot and I could not fund it by myself. I was a bit doubtful about it at first, but without any other possibilities, I bravely jumped into it. I divided the campaign into three parts because I also doubted I would get the full funding straight away. All the campaigns reached full funding because of the realistic target amounts. It took long, and was a huge amount of work every time, but it was worth it.” 

Ms. Parviainen also offers thoughts on the state of the music industry in 2015.

“The music business is changing and the change seems good from my point of view,” she said. “Only the minority of bands can ever get a good record deal. I also think that the labels will start to see the crowdfunding as a good possibility; a new way of funding the making of quite expensive albums. Because in the end, it is mostly pre-selling the music and people actually pay for the music and not download it for free. Now I have the possibility to work straight with the fans and still can release and distribute music worldwide. I can see myself as a really fortunate one.”

With the official release of Behind The Black Veil (May 12) under her corset and upcoming shows in the works, Ms. Parviainen is excited about Dark Sarah’s future.

“I have also started to arrange things for the next album,” she concludes. “I wake up every morning more and more excited about it. I can´t wait to tell you about it, but first I need to find a 3D animator to help me. The Dark Sarah story will continue and develop from here. I am arms open for the future!”

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