Dark Sarah – Grim (Napalm)

Tuesday, 14th July 2020
Rating: 8/10

While Dark Sarah’s first efforts felt a bit on the plain side, glimmers of something stronger seemed to peek through 2018’s The Golden Moth. It was the final piece of a story that spanned three albums, and served as an enjoyable conclusion. Grim gives Dark Sarah a bit of a restart, which is also the perfect time to give a nice tweak to the formula. Something that Grim impressively benefits from, and it sits as the band’s best work to date.

Grim is the beginning of a new tale for Dark Sarah, and it feels a bit darker in tone – suiting to the title of course. But still much of the theatrical, symphonic metal elements remain and it still feels very much like a story as the album unfolds. There are peaks and valleys, and the orchestrations give it that cinematic feel. The guitars feel chunkier and seem to leverage more weight behind them, as songs like “The Chosen One” and “The Hex” feature some strong mid-tempo stomps that offer quite a bit of energy behind them. Also worth noting, with these two songs (and others) is that with this heaviness, there’s also an underlying uptempo pop vibe. Some ABBA vibes are going to be noticeable, and much like on Amberian Dawn’s latest (though utilized in a lesser extent here), they really do push the music in a positive direction. Single “All Ears” uses a bit of everything noted so far, with playful theatric elements, poppy synths, and dark riffs coming together in an effective display of everything Dark Sarah as to offer in 2020. Another highlight would be that of “Mork,” which successfully engages that theatrical piece and circus-like elements with galloping riffs (some of which even have a black metal-y vibe) and an excellent vocal pairing between Heidi Parviainen and the track’s guest Jasse Jatala.

It really feels like Dark Sarah has pulled out all of the stops with this fourth release and have a complete vision about where they want to go. Grim is an elegant first step into riveting cinematic darkness, with just the right amount of pop hooks and symphonic atmosphere to bring it into fresh territory. Hopefully this will be the start of even greater things for the act.

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