Dark Sarah – Attack of Orym Review

Compared to the previous two albums I've heard, Attack of Orym has a much more electronic-flavored sound to it, sometimes going for a more trance-metal-infused sound with light power...

Released By: Riena Productions

Release Date: January 27th, 2023

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Links: http://www.darksarah.com

 

Line Up:

Heidi Parviainen – Vocals
Sami-Petri Salonen – Guitars
Henrik Airaksinen – Keyboards
Rude Rothstén – Bass
Thomas Tunkkari – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Intro – Choose Your Weapons

2. Attack of Orym

3. Invincible

4. B.U.R.N

5. Warning Sign

6. Goth Disco

7. Delirium

8. Piece of My Heart

9. Breaking Free

10. Hero and a Villain

 

With how much music there is out there nowadays, I’ll inevitably miss out on albums from bands I like, from time to time, which sometimes leads to a big surprise when I rediscover said band and find they no longer sound quite the way I remember them sounding before. Finnish symphonic metal band Dark Sarah started as the solo project of former Amberian Dawn vocalist Heidi Parviainen, with their debut Behind the Black Veil, going for a very classical-influenced sound, with a huge emphasis on the orchestras, and not too much focus on the metal instruments or anything else. Their second album, The Puzzle, was much heavier overall, but still had the same overall sound going for it: A very dark-sounding, largely classical-influenced symphonic metal sound, with a huge emphasis on the orchestras, as well as the vocals. I’m not quite sure what happened between now and then, but after missing out on their previous two releases, I was given a promo to review their fifth full-length release, Attack of Orym, and it’s certainly not what I was expecting, at least in some ways. It’s still a high-quality symphonic metal release, with excellent vocals, but there are also some elements I wasn’t expecting, and they’re quite prominent throughout the album.

Compared to the previous two albums I’ve heard, Attack of Orym has a much more electronic-flavored sound to it, sometimes going for a more trance-metal-infused sound with light power metal elements, similar to later Battle Beast or Beast in Black albums, while other times there’s even somewhat of an electronic pop sound, with a few tracks being particularly light and catchy. The symphonic elements are still here, and on some tracks, they lead the way, especially on the opening track, but I find as a whole this is definitely a less classical style album, and instead a much more modern sounding, melodic metal album. I’m not sure whether or not the two albums in between showed signs of this sound or if the band decided to try something new, but regardless, everything here works out quite well, with the more electronic-flavored songs being every bit as effective as the more symphonic tracks, it not even better in some cases.

Performances are strong across the board, with the musicians all doing a great job. Henrik Airaksinen in particular stands out, with his keys often being the main ingredient that pushes the music, sometimes going for a more classical, symphonic-influenced sound, while other times going for a more retro, electronic-infused style, sometimes pushing into light disco territory, while occasionally going for more of an electronic pop sound. There’s certainly a lot going on with the keys on this album, and everything is done very well. Guitars aren’t always dominant on every track, but there are some bursts of heaviness throughout the album, with a couple of tracks, in particular, being fairly heavy on the whole, and Sami-Petri Salonen does a great job throughout, with some of the thick, heavy riffs being quite memorable and effective. While symphonic elements aren’t as prominent as they were on the first albums, they are also very well done, as expected. Of course, the most important element of all is Heidi Parviainen’s vocals, which are as excellent as always. Her classical training still shines through on some tracks, but overall her vocal delivery is a lot lighter on this album than I remember it being in the past, still somewhat operatic, but much cleaner sounding than before, and there are times when she goes for more of a pop-infused approach, which works quite well and fits the tracks perfectly. Sound production is also fantastic, with everything sounding clear and powerful, and nothing gets lost in the mix.

Attack of Orym is a concept album, carrying on from where its predecessor, Grim, left off. Since I haven’t heard that album, I wasn’t paying much attention to the story on this one, but on a track-by-track basis, the lyrics can be pretty entertaining at points, so I’m sure those more invested will get more out of the story than I did. Moving on to songwriting, this is another area where the album is quite good, with quite a bit of variety to the tracks, without having any weaker tracks. Following a brief, rather unremarkable intro track, the opening title track is a big standout, with a darker, heavier, and more cinematic sound compared to the rest of the album. It’s easily the most symphonic track on the album, with a few light electronics in the background, but the orchestras and heavy guitars are the driving force on this one, along with obviously the vocals. It’s a slow-paced, heavy track with pounding riffs throughout the verses, while the chorus is still heavy, but a bit lighter and more melodic, with some huge vocal melodies. There’s a bit of an Epica feel to the track, especially with the symphonic arrangements, and this feeling is at its strongest during the highlight of the track: An explosive, death metal-influenced section with guest harsh vocals from none other than Mark Jansen himself. It’s a fantastic track overall, and a great start to the album.

Next is “Invincible”, a more upbeat track, where the trance metal influences start to show themselves, along with some light power metal elements. The electronics are on full display here, with the verses having a nice beat to them, while the chorus is fast-paced, catchy, and melodic, with slight traces of heaviness. The track on the whole very much feels like a Beast in Black song, which isn’t surprising, because it’s one of two tracks featuring a guest appearance from their guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen, who delivers an excellent solo in the second half. The pace drops off slightly on “B.U.R.N”, another track with a heavy focus on electronic elements, though it’s a bit more laid back overall, with slight bursts of heaviness on and off. It moves at a fairly relaxed pace during the verses, picking up slightly for the chorus, which has a very nice rhythm to it and is one of the highlights of the album. The first single “Warning Sign” is another more upbeat track, similar to “Invincible”, with a huge focus on trance-infused keys, and it has a very fast and fun chorus, to go along with verses that are a bit more subdued, but still pretty epic, with the electronic elements adding a nice rhythm to go along with some heavy guitars and cinematic symphonic elements.

Things slow down for a bit starting with “Goth Disco”, one of the more pop-infused tracks. The keyboards have a darker tone to them, though in a more playful sort of way, almost like the kind of music you’d hear around Halloween time, though the music has a nice beat to it, just like the “Disco” part of its name would imply. This track and a couple of others are somewhat similar to the kind of “Abba Metal”, Parviainen’s former band has been doing on recent albums, though with a bit more of a metal edge to it, as well as a more cinematic feel, and, of course, more operatic vocals. It’s a very light and fun track, with a unique feel to it. Next is “Delirium”, another pop-influenced track, and if anything I’d say it’s the most electro-pop sounding track here (at least out of the metal tracks), with the chorus, in particular, being very light and catchy, in a pop sort of way. It all works out well, though, with the guitars giving it just enough an edge to still work as a metal, while the vocals are of course fantastic as always. It’s also the second track to feature Kasperi Heikkinen, who delivers another excellent guitar solo. Overall, it’s one of my favorites on the album.

Two more heavy tracks are next, the first of which is “Piece of My Heart”, another faster-paced melodic metal track, where the keyboards aren’t as trance infused, but they still play a big part in the music, while the guitars are heavier throughout, and it’s a very fun track overall. The track features guest vocals from longtime Dark Sarah collaborator JP Leppäluoto, who delivers some nice backing vocals throughout, though I’m a bit surprised he never really gets to take over the lead vocals at any point. The last heavier track on the album is “Breaking Free”, which has some of the heaviest riffs of the album during a slower section, before speeding up nicely during the verses, and then really picking up during the choruses, which has some huge, uplifting vocal melodies, and is another one of my favorites on the album. Closing out the album is “Hero and a Villain”, the lightest track on the album. There’s very little metal present here, but I also wouldn’t say it’s a ballad. Instead, it’s more of an electronic pop track, with a slightly upbeat feel to it, though there’s no heaviness, instead leaning entirely on electronic beats. It’s a very light and catchy track, with a nice chorus. It isn’t one of my favorite tracks here, but it works nicely as a closer.

After not listening to Dark Sarah for a few years, and missing out on two albums, I wasn’t quite sure what I expected from Attack On Orym, but it certainly wasn’t what I ended up getting from it. Longtime fans may or may not be in for a big surprise with the overall direction of this album, while I find it quite refreshing, striking a nice balance between the more classic symphonic sound the band had on their first two albums, along with a more modern, electronic sound, sometimes going into trance metal territory, while occasionally even throwing in some electronic pop. The vocals are fantastic as always, though, and the songwriting is consistently entertaining, as well as quite varied. Fans of symphonic metal are sure to find some enjoyment in this album, while anyone looking for some great modern melodic metal with a few twists, would also be highly recommended to give this album a listen.

 

Ratings: 8/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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