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Dark Sanctuary was originally formed in 1996 by members Arkdae (keyboards) and Marquise Ermia (vocals).  With the idea to create Darkwave/Ethereal music with many Neoclassical touches, described as "Dark Atmospheric" music, they set out to create their first 20 minute single track MCD Funeral Cry in 1997.  Their numbers grew dramatically when four more members joined with Hylgaryss (keyboards), Sombre Cyr (percussion, bass), Eliane (violin) and later Marguerite (violin) also joined.  Later Marquise left and was replaced by vocalist Dame Pandora.  Also during these last few years they've released four full-length albums and are just ready to release their fifth masterpiece in Darkwave/Ethereal music.  In 2005, they made a great stride in creating a "best of" album for their North American audience and released on Projekt Records.

With their shear numbers of six band members, they're able to produce a wonderfully, full orchestrated sound that is quite breathtaking in it's elegance and beauty.  The energy of these combined musicians becomes full and vibrant with beautiful violins, powerful percussion, soaring vocals and those elements that wonderful, ethereal music is all about.  The dark, melodic nature certainly isn't lost in all of this beauty, but rather adds an extra element of enjoyment for those of us that really love the somber moods presented in this type of music.

This is a wonderful group for people who are fans of sToa, Dargaard and many other groups I've featured here on Gothic Paradise in the past.  Selections can be heard on the radio shows, so be sure to check them out.


Thoughts: 9 years in the sanctuary - Review

Since the 2003 release of L'être las - L'envers du miroir, I've become an absolute fan of this group and their captivating music. So when I caught wind of the special compilation release on Projekt, I was excited, because now more of the world will have easier access to this group and their music.

With 9 years and their other four full-length albums, there is plenty of great music to choose from for this release.  And what they came up with are ten of their best pieces.  Although if I had to choose just ten tracks from their catalog, it would be nearly impossible.

I think it's obvious that they would include their only single "Vie Ephémère" and only really dance-friendly track with it's fast-paced percussion, soaring vocals and layered tapestries of music.  But once you get past that unique track, everything else is just a perfect masterpiece that blends so well on this album as they do on each of their other respective releases.

"La Clameur Du Silence" starts off the album and is from their 2004 and latest album to date.  The next track "Assombrissement De L'âme" appears on their previous 2003 album and the next "La Chute de l'Ange" goes back to their 2000 album.  And so, just in the first three tracks we can hear how their sound remains consistent in style and quality, yet with just enough difference to be interesting and captivating.

While there's nothing on this disc that I haven't heard before from this group, for the average listener in North America, this may be the first exposure to this band.  This disc captures the style and cross-section of compositions perfectly portraying their talents in composing and performing great music.  Whether it be the somber piano music of "D'une Mère à sa Fille", the beautiful violin of the same track, the slowly building and bombastic percussion of L'autre Monde" or the soaring vocals on all tracks, the music will hold the listener entranced and captivated throughout the duration of the album.

The selection is perfect for this work and even includes an extra treat for long-time fans in the form of the extended version of "Les Larmes du Méprisé" which any avid listeners of the Gothic Paradise Ethereal radio show will be familiar with the original.  So don't hesitate, this is a "must have" if you don't already have all of their previous works!  It's a perfect introduction to an extraordinary group.

Rating: 5/5


L'être las - l'envers du miroir - Review

I was just recently introduced to this group even though they've already released two albums before this one.  With the sample I heard, I immediately knew this was one group I had to become familiar with.  Now with this, their third album, I'm completely taken by their talent and beautiful music.

With most of their lyrics being in French, I don't understand most of what is being said, so without that initial advantage, it's hard to judge how their lyrics match their music on first listen.  However, after grasping some of the themes and bits that I do understand or that I have found out more about, the mood and theme all mix wonderfully together.  Beginning with the soft instrumental piano that builds up as an intro with percussion, dreamy violin and all the masterpiece and style of a full orchestra, the intro (un-named, not listed on the CD, but included as the first track) is beautiful and fades away to "L'arrogance" with a soft touch that again builds to bombastic percussion, beautiful operatic vocals and powerfully orchestrated music.

Many of the songs on this album are quite long, running between 5 minutes to almost 10 minutes, with occasional interludes.  In my opinion these longer songs are wonderful, because for this style of music the story is almost like an opera that builds and fades, ebbs and flows from epic to smooth, beautiful music.  Chills run up and down my spine through many of the tracks as the female vocals, combined with the orchestrated music absolutely leaves me mesmerized.

There are wonderful variations on this disc, so don't get me wrong, even though my description above describes most of the music, the variety is just enough to keep it interesting.  Some of the highlights include the minute-long interludes, usually including various pipes, drums and guitar such as "Malveillance".  The single for this album "Vie Ephemere", is also one of my favorite tracks and probably the only track that really picks up the pace with wonderful driving percussion, layered vocals that are soaring and haunting combined with acoustic guitar for just an overall great track.

"Silence Macabre" varies even more from the other songs on this disc including male spoken vocals with absolutely spell-binding violin and string orchestrated music layered and blended with dreamy female vocals.  Something quite moody, yet absolutely beautiful at the same time.  The way these different styles are combined together is nothing less than magnificent.  With over 73 minutes of music in 14 total tracks with the 13th song "La rencontre fatale" lasting almost 10 minutes long with bells and deep, heavy strings that maintain a slow, brooding tempo throughout and of course including the beautiful soaring vocals with the occasional spoken word.  This prepares the listener for a wondeful ending, and when it's all over, you feel like you've been transported somewhere magical and back and long to re-live it all over again.

This album has fast become one of my favorites, especially in this genre of Neo-classical meets Gothic/Ethereal with Medieval elements and wonderful percussion.  Fans of sToa, Dargaard and Arcana will absolutely love this album!

Rating: 4.5/5


Website: www.dark-sanctuary.com
USA Label: Projekt Records
European Label: Wounded Love Records

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