Falconer – “From A Dying Ember” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
It’s been 6 years since we last heard from this Swedish folk power metal band. But that’s hardly a surprise when it comes to Falconer, whose cult following (including myself) have taken it in their course over the last 20 years during which time this unusual band have issued 8 prior albums. I say ‘unusual’ given the unique vocal style of actor/singer Mathias Blad, whose minstrel like performances, while quirky to some, have defined Falconer’s sound much to the delight of its fans. Formed by guitarist Stefan Weinerhall after the dissolution of 90s Viking metal band Mithotyn, Falconer sees the superb blending of these two styles in moving songs of steel that are equally undeniable in their abundant spirit and emotion. Unhurried in their composing due to full time work commitments, the band can nevertheless always be counted on in delivering the goods, as is the case on the 11 superb tracks here, some of which feature the novel use of pipes, fiddles and keys. As mentioned, the passion is overwhelming and the folk ballad ‘Bland Sump och Dy’, with its soft melody is given perfect form through the twin Scandinavian guitars of Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund as subtle pipes and fiddles add even more moving sounds while Blad’s singing articulates his theatrical posture superbly. On ‘Fool’s Crusade’ the speed and heaviness pick up after an initial ethereal piano intro complemented by Blad’s soft tones, making for a stirring epic sound climaxing in the chorus as it soars through the singer’s brilliant highs backed by even more Viking melodic scaling and a heavy double bass drumming rhythm – utter perfection. Like a medieval bard telling his tale on ‘Thrust The Dagger Deep’, folk pipes meld with an awesome combination of heavy riffs and Viking melodies until a totally unexpected groovy 70s Hammond organ kicks in (!) to cap off yet another performance that is as deep in the mind as it is in the heart. Arguably saving the best till last, ‘Rapture’ is a sure delight for any Mithotyn fan, being co-written by none other than its guitarist / keyboardist Karl Beckmann (and now of King Of Asgard), so expect nothing short of a regal Viking epic heaving in its majestic mix of weaving Viking guitar melodies and stirring riffs powered on by double bass drumming as Blad lays bare his soul as do the incredible, wailing guitar solos. Definitely different, but with another flawless, out and out performance, “From A Dying Ember” is yet another winner from the quiver of Falconer.