Falconer – “Falconer (Ultimate Edition)” 2 CD RE-ISSUE (Metal Blade Records)
And so the quest comes to an end…..at least on the live front for this medieval folk metal band that many have found too enigmatic to bear – yet to others are a folk metal dream. Formed from the ashes of Mithotyn by guitarist Stefan Weinerhall at the turn of the century, Falconer’s appeal of deep folk melodies mixed with power metal already had many interested – that is until they heard the theatrical vocals of Mathias Blad, a classically trained actor / singer with extensive experience on the Swedish theater circuit including playing leads in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, ‘Hair’ and ‘West Side Story’! Strangely enough, supporters of the ‘Blad’ (myself included) couldn’t agree more that his minstrel like vocals were the perfect story teller on what started as a studio project. Later, as the cult of Falconer spread to many offers of touring the star vocalist would graciously bow out in order to prevent conflicts with his own theater schedule. Ironically, fan demand soon saw that Blad would return as everyone realized that he was key to the band’s unorthodox signature sound. With their final 3 live performances left this year, “Falconer (Ultimate Edition)” is meant as an interlude presumably as the band take stock of where to go from here. Essentially a re-mastered version of their debut album, it also contains 3 songs re-recorded as acoustic versions, but more importantly includes 4 tracks from their 1999 demo all now re-presented majestically in a superior sound format thanks to Andy La Rocque’s production par excellence. Listening to the likes of ‘Mindtraveller’ and ‘Wings Of Serenity’ you’ll get what Falconer fans find so unique in the band’s sound from Blad’s thespian vocals to Weinerhall’s powerful Norse folk melodies, both deep and resoundingly epic. However, they are brought even more to life on the acoustic versions, attesting to the quality of their composition like on ‘Royal Galley’ where the use of Spanish guitar adds even more flamboyance to Blad’s heartfelt passion. One of Falconer’s specialties has been to cover traditional Swedish folk songs and it doesn’t come any better than on ‘Per Tyrssons Döttrar i Vänge’, telling the dark 12th century legend of Pehr Tyrsson and his three daughters – all brought vividly back from the dead through dramatic dual male and female Swedish sung vocals, along with Weinerhall’s unmistakeable Norse melodies again, right down to the eerie final bell toll. If this is to be the end, then the curtain falls on one of metal’s most unique bands indeed, and if it should pass by many unnoticed, then those of us touched by Falconer over the years have known better days.