Released: 2001, Metal Blade
I have a theory. It may not be popular but here it is. There is a glut of metal on the market. There are literally hundreds of new metal bands in the classic, speed, power style. I can’t keep up, financially or in terms of time! By my count there have been roughly 100 new bands appear out of Italy and Greece in the last three years. What does it take to stand out in the crowd? I’m not sure, but whatever “IT” is Falconer has “IT”
At first glance, this CD is unremarkable when lined up besides it’s noble brethren. A new three piece out of Sweden with production via Andy LaRoque ‘s Los Angered studio, medieval themes, flawless power metal and so on. So what makes it stand out? A number of subtle details bear mentioning, just in case you took a quick glance or single spin of this disc. It is worth your time to re-visit this CD!
Overall the image, while traditional has a twist that makes it interesting. Instead of focusing on the shimmering tales of high adventure, dragons and glory, Falconer focus more on the mundane aspects of medieval life as evidenced by the great tunes Lord of The Blacksmiths and A Quest for The Crown. The whole theme of this CD is a little darker, much like the medieval times supposed were, very few fantasy elements enter into the picture. Not dirty and gritty by nay means but a calm sense of foreboding. Speaking of pictures, the cover is amazing. My front–runner for CD cover of the year, a simple man holding a falcon on a stormy, wind-swept steppe, very dark, brooding and ominous.
Musically this is a great CD! Like the cover the riffs are dark and ominous, not a lot of the “happy” riffing and melody lines of Helloween. Not better or worse, just a nice change of pace. Reminds me a little of Eidolon, a few darker elements in the songwriting. Mathias Blad’s voice is not the usual high, powerful register we have come to expect (nay…demand!) of quality metal, but it is unique and mesmerizing. I know that sounds a little weird, but I found myself really focusing on the vocal inflections and sounds produced. Not smooth and silky by any means but not growly at all either. The guitar tone is heavy and dense and not at all shimmering. The solos are mature, well constructed and don’t consistently shred all over the place. The riffing isn’t frantic but still drives the song along nicely. The drums drive the songs along well, at varying tempos not always relaying on a double-kick, or symbols crashing constantly to generate the feeling of speed.
Maybe that’s the element of “it”. The songs are dynamic and well written. Opening cut, Upon The Grave of Guilt” starts as a conventional speedy number (as it should) with an alternate between pummeling double-bass drums and a galloping stutter kick, then suddenly during the first solo it all slows right down and adds some very nice dark, vocal touches. Then off on the chase again revisiting the first half of the song, then finally coming to a very nice acoustic atmospheric closer. A truly magnificent song.
A great CD overall, a recommended buy.