Dark Sarah continues to evolve their sound but stays close to their symphonic/cinematic metal horror roots in their latest fantasy concept album Attack of the Orym.
Attack of the Orym is the fifth album from Dark Sarah, who prominently feature the vocals of Heidi Parviainen (ex-Amberian Dawn), a classically trained singer. After parting ways with Amberian Dawn in 2012, Heidi started a solo project and Dark Sarah was born. The first releases, including Behind the Black Veil, The Puzzle (2016) and The Golden Moth (2018), describe the journey of a young woman left at the altar who undergoes a near breakdown that wakes up the darker reflection of herself, Dark Sarah. In 2020 with the release of Grim, Dark Sarah move on to a new story in a concept album describing the story of Luna, who journeys through a mystical world facing dangers along the way. Attack of the Orym continues the concept album theme for the band and continues the story from Grim and like the others, was completely funded through Indiegogo. In their native Finland the band has toured with Sonata Arctica and supported Within Temptation. Heidi and Miko Mustonen created the music and lyrics for Attack of the Orym and production and mixing was handled by Miko at Pathos Music (Delain, Sonata Arctica, Ensiferum). Mastering was done by Svante Forsbäck at Chartmakers (Volbeat, Sonata Arctica, Korpiklaani). The band did bring in some outside artists for this album with Mark Jansen (Epica) adding voice to Orym, JP Leppäluoto taking the role of Dragon and Kasperi Keikkinen (Beast in Black) adding a couple guitar solos.
Grim hinted at the direction Dark Sarah may have been going and on Attack of the Orym the band has moved more toward a pop metal sound compared to previous albums. As one would expect, Heidi’s vocals are as strong as ever and well-suited for everything from opera to the pop metal prevalent on this album. As one might expect from a concept album, the opening track is a keyboard-driven intro that features some orchestral elements as it builds right into the surprisingly heavy guitar riff that opens up “Attack of the Orym”. This song has more of a traditional power metal feel to it in the beginning being carried by the guitars and drums that support Heidi’s ethereal vocals. Keyboards come in later to dominate parts of the song and there is a quieter vocal interlude to break up the song.
Starting out with some electronica beats, “Invincible” is an insanely bouncy, fun pop metal song. Heidi’s vocals float along above the music and the rhythm section really carries the song as the guitar riffs are mostly providing some texture over the keyboards. Kasperi Heikkinen provides some nice guitar work and solo in the song without becoming a focal point.
“B.U.R.N” takes a bit of a darker tone than “Invincible” but again has that dance pop feel overall. The song features some great vocal sections with choral parts and Heidi showing good range. The galloping pace is really evident in this track with solid bass guitar work from Rude Rothstén shining through in sections. At this point in the overall story, the main character Luna realizes the hard choices that will be needed and some of that tension comes through in the song.
“Warning Sign” goes a bit heavier in tone and feel but again keeping the dance pop feel and has some great guitar parts in the verse section providing groove and drive and sounding a bit familiar but difficult to place. Adding in the somewhat eerie keyboard elements and a memorable chorus and you have another good song. At this point, I’ll mention the obvious, that production and mixing are exactly what you would want for an album like this. Instruments and vocals are clear and overall sound is very polished, fitting the poppy nature of the songs.
“Goth Disco” is the next track and honestly is a phrase I was thinking could describe the entire album. Within the song, the villain Orym makes another appearance later in the song in a speaking section where he appears to be almost mocking the hero Luna, all set to some creepy keyboards. This interplay between characters in the story works really well. From here and actually from beginning to end, the songs stay very similar in structure and approach but do carry a good bit of variety in overall sound, keeping the listener involved.
The album and story closes with “Hero and a Villain” and may not actually provide any clear resolution to the story as we hear from both Orym and Luna. Musically there is a good groove and a stronger emphasis on keyboards and electronic elements that other tracks on the album.
Dark Sarah seem to have fully embraced pop metal sensibilities on Attack of the Orym and have done so with strong performances and great production that showcase the vocal talents of Heidi Parviainen as one might expect. For the casual listener, the story may be a bit hard to follow but the songs make for a good listen on their own.
Written by John Jackson
1 Intro – Choose your weapons
2 Attack of Orym feat. Mark Jansen
3 Invincible feat. Kasperi Heikkinen
5 Warning sign (video)
6 Goth disco
7 Delerium feat. Kasperi Heikkinen
8 Piece of my heart feat. JP Leppäluoto
9 Breaking free
10 Hero and a villain
Heidi Parviainen – vocals
Sami-Petri Salonen – guitar
Henrik Airaksinen – keyboard
Rude Rothstén – bass
Thomas Tunkkari – drums
Release Date: 27th. Jan. 2023
Record Label: Riena Productions/ Bloodblast
Video for ‘Warning Sign’
Video for ‘Invincible’