THE GOLDEN MOTH
Inner Wounds Recording
Release date: 21st September 2018
Dark Sarah is a Finnish cinematic metal band led by classically trained singer/songwriter Heidi Parviainen. After parting ways with Amberian Dawn in late 2012, she started to build up a new project called Dark Sarah. Dark Sarah’s music combines metal, film music and theatrical elements as the story is told through concept albums of a young woman named Sarah and her evil half - Dark Sarah, as well as a mystical journey through three worlds: “Middle World” where the humans live in “Behind the Black Veil”, “The Underworld” where the dead roams in “The Puzzle”, and now “The Upper World” where the Gods rule in “The Golden Moth”.
A few months ago, I got to interview Heidi about "The Golden Moth", the highly anticipated album of Dark Sarah, she reveals that it is the last part of "The Chronicles" trilogue, the story tells about Sarah, leaving the Underworld with the Iron Eagles, entering the Upper World, a deserted wasteland where the Gods rule, and where she faces her final test, while a familiar foe has also sneaked his way into the new world, following her. First, Sarah thinks he wants to harm her, but soon they team up, and together they try to find their way to the Gods that live on an island floating upon the desert. In the roles of the Gods, you will hear Zuberoa Aznárez (Diabulus in Musica) and Marco Hietala (Nightwish) as Iron Mask and White Bread, and Netta Skog (ex-Ensiferum) as Fortune Teller who comes in telling the story in a new way, just by playing.
My Beautiful Enemy
I Once Had Wings
The Gods Speak (feat. Marco Hietala & Zuberoa Aznarez)
The Golden Moth
The Gate of Time
“Desert Rose” is the opener for the album, with roaring winds and cawing of the Iron Eagles through the skies of the desert land, the Dragon returns, hissing at you saying “I'm a viper” while Sarah responds to him with “your poisons in my veins”, singing together again along with a new addition in Dark Sarah’s instrumentation, the accordion and that can be heard in the background. Big cinematic vibes once the echoing hypnotic voices and sounds of tribal drums make a big role in this prologue. Next track explodes into a suspenseful start with the guitar riffs and bashful drums, it then softens once the string arrangements kick in as Sarah encounters the “Trespasser” of the Upper World, a familiar face, Dragon. Whisper singing from Sarah, asking the Dragon why has he followed her into this deserted wasteland, he responds to her hoarsely with the piano keys telling her that he is not here to harm Sarah, but wants something back from her, the key that she used to escaped with from the Underworld. The ticking of the Dragon’s time turner watch begins the countdown and starts a music of battle with heavy tribal drums as the voices echoing chants suspense the atmosphere as two duke it out in barren wasteland. The power metal then transitions in as Sarah soars her voice to the high octaves about the heat of the desert while the Dragon in the background is telling her they’re both alike and that he will help guide them through the Upper World, hinting the listeners that Dragon was once in this world before. The music video for this track is really beautiful as the two battle and dance with each other through the desert of the Gods, and you can see Dragon and Sarah get close as they hold in each others arms from the freezing desert, while Sarah exclaims to the Dragon's generosity in bright high notes to not take the advantage of her accepting his kindness. As the two continue forward, they encounter three bandits, the duo, without hesitation, prepares to fight their way through pass them. The two go on a speedy ride in “Wheel” as it comes in with quick chugging, rhythmic guitar playing with thunderous drums and cymbal clashing, despite the dangers of what lie ahead of this scorching desert. The catchy and addicting chorus they sing as they have now acknowledged what happened in their past, and dream for a better future, as for Dragon, he has some personal business to take care of with the Gods.
“My Beautiful Enemy” is a power metal-ballad about our two protagonists, the song opens up majestically with the string orchestra as Sarah comes to terms with Dragon, the two let go of their dislikes towards each other and trust begins to build between them as they admit they share each other's pain. With trust gained, Dragon promises to Sarah to help her get home. I wouldn’t say this is a love story but their realization brings on the emotion with fantastical elements of the symphonic orchestra and guitar solo to their new found relationship. Next, “I Once Had Wings” features ex-Ensiferum accordionist Netta Skog whose role is the Fortune Teller in this story. The song starts off very mystical, then moves into a fun yet gloomy sea shanty tunes with Dragon singing in rhythm telling his story about his wings and the consequence that left him with scars as a reminder. Sarah sings the next verse, with emotional instrumentation and a comforting voice to the Dragon, assures him that his redemption will come. A sad yet hopeful track as we hear the story about his descent to the Underworld, singing together with the words of Sarah, gives the Dragon a proof of redeeming qualities.
Transitioning to “Pirates”, the chapter opens with crickets chirping at night with the didgeridoo as the Dragon sings along with the folky acoustic guitar while he schemes a plan with Sarah to find a way to get to the islands of the Gods by using a vessel used by the ravaging pirates. The song brings out the hilarious personality to the two arguing, blaming each other they’re going to be discovered on whose fault is talking the most. Electronic warps in the next line intenses the mood as they sneak their way while Sarah sings her frantic thoughts believing they have been detected, the instrument builds up as they manage to take the vessel for their own, and to Sarah's surprise, they are now flying! “Sky Sailing” an appropriate follow-up title to the previous song, an adventurous cinematic epic that gives you a vision as if you were on the airship, sailing through the night sky with Sarah and Dragon on their way to the God’s location. The song plays triumphantly as the two are almost at the goal of their journey while they are fascinated flying through the skies. Midway of the song, the triumphant theme saddens down with the piano and melancholic strings as the two compliment each other on how much they have made this adventure special, sounds as they don’t want this to end.
“Wish”, the song starts off like a lullaby on with string pizzicatos and orchestral bells, Sarah fascinated how far they are in the sky, as if she “can almost catch a star”, while the Dragon mopes around wishing he had his wings to fly, but is stuck on “this lousy ship”. Sarah tries to cheer him up by convincing him to look at the beautiful view and that he is flying, but Dragon denies her request. The song becomes a wholesome fun when Sarah starts teasing him that he’s afraid of heights while he quickly denies her accusation. The two sing in unison that they will climb from their darkness, the choir parts were very magical and the orchestral was the cherry on top, bringing out the fun and joyous personalities of our main duo before they make their way to the Gods, especially love the hilarity of this when Sarah jokingly blurts out “Look Dragon, no hands!”, to his response calls her a show off. This track can fit into a Disney live-action or 3D-animated film.
The moment has come, Sarah and Dragon have arrived on the island of the Gods, it is time we finally hear “The Gods Speak”, a theatrical metal opera act featuring Marco Hietala as White Beard and Zuberoa Aznárez as Iron Mask, horns blasting and marching drum rhythm to their arrival, Sarah is in awe seeing the two Gods, comparing them to angels, but she knows they will not be very welcoming her nor Dragon as they come with terrifying white spears. The song then turns into a heavy metal duel as Dragon confronts the Gods exclaiming that he is now redeemed of his sins, but the Gods retaliate telling him to give up now and return to the Underworld, for that he is not welcomed in the Upper World, it is then we find out it was the Gods that burned Dragon's wings off. Sarah, who is in the middle of all this, pleads that she wants to find her way back home, the Gods become very fearful as they see a mortal in their land, blaming Dragon. While he quickly defends Sarah, the Gods shows no mercy with their threats as the instruments escalates and the voices towering against Sarah and Dragon, as their spears seek for bloodshed, leaving us with a cliffhanger…
On a side note, as this album comes to an end, it was a bit difficult to try and not spoil anything on the ending, I'm treating this just like a movie, haha! First of the final three is “Promise”, where we find out what has happened to our heroes after the confrontation with the Gods. Opening with melancholic ambiance as our heroes talk about the promise they have made earlier, but unfortunately, the decision that was brought among them had other plans, the instrumentation kicks in, bringing powerful yet sorrow melodies that pull at your emotions. Next comes the name we have been wondering about, “The Golden Moth”, the song deals with acceptance of our favorite duo singing while treading their own paths. An eerie electronic ballad, as Sarah repeatedly says “is it you?” throughout the song as she walks in the darkness, knowing she must go, while the Dragon on the opposite side questions if the moth has already flown away into the sun. “The Gate of Time” closes album with a narration by the Dragon with the accordion making a return playing in the background. Here we are now given a clear explanation to what and where the Golden Moth was from, which may come as a surprise to many listeners who have been following this journey. What’s about to come next will leave us in question as the sounds of winding from Dragon's time-turner, hinting us that there is more to come on Sarah's journey, we will find out soon enough in the new trilogy “The Saga”.
In conclusion, I enjoyed it, I laughed, and I even cried that we have now reached the end of this exciting chronicle of Dark Sarah. As expected, “The Golden Moth” lived up to its superior predecessors, but a bit more when it comes to the story, I don’t think I'll get over this. Heidi proves her excellent skills as a storyteller and songwriter, implementing them into a cinematic masterpiece, hats off to you Heidi! I can’t wait the next journey for Sarah and Dragon.
I'm giving “The Golden Moth” a perfect score a 10 out of 10!
Follow the band online:
Heidi Parviainen (as Dark Sarah) – vocals
Erkka Korhonen – guitar
Sami Salonen – guitar
Rude Rothstén – bass
Thomas Tunkkari – drums
JP Leppäluoto (as Dragon) – vocals