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Falconer and I have an extremely convoluted relationship dating back a few years ago now, safe to say too complex for this review but the implication being that they are a band I shall never forget. Back then, around 2002/2003, I loved their album "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn", giving it spin after spin, before I promptly fell out of love with Power Metal as quickly as Papa Roach are seen to jump onto new bandwagons, and like the sad tale of the ugly ducking it's face was never seen again. So with the task of reviewing of their new, sixth album, "Among Beggars And Thieves", it was like meeting up with a long-lost ex-girlfriend: would I be relieved to see she is now an alcoholic whale, or would I kill myself for splitting up with a beauty queen in the making?
Thankfully the girl is now a semi-alcoholic with some puppy fat, but alas no Margaret Thatcher. What seemed like excellent 'heavy' riffing and epic Metal compositions has been revealed to be fairly standard power metal gaiety with less real aggression than a neutered kitten on valium. "Among Beggars And Thieves" is largely similar to the aforementioned "Chapters..." but with a cleaner production and greater theatrics, exemplified by closer "Dreams And Pyres”, and a singer in Mathias Blad who still doesn't seem like he is singing to the same song being played by the rest of the band. The power metal-ness on "Among..." really doesn't differ significantly from the hordes, with faster sections here and there where the band do their best to sound like all the other Symphony X-es and Stratovarius-es out there ("Man Of The Hour"), slower choral sections that rival Blind Guardian and Manowar for pomp ("Vargaskall", "Carnival Of Disgust"), and like every good PM album, a section in "Mountain Men" influenced by the backing band of 'Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot' from the classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". When Falconer do feel like doing so however stronger riffs can emerge from the depths; the opening Immortal-alic opening to "Vargaskall" and "Boiling Led" being good places to start for those who like a bit of meat on the proverbial bone.
So what to conclude from all this? If "Among Beggars And Thieves" was my aforementioned ex-girlfriend, a particularly slutty skirt on her and a few pints in my belly would inevitably re-kindle those past romances, but a lot more could be done to save on such mandatory pre-sexual requirements. Metal revels in it's status of being a rallying call against something, or if not it has to be damn good at being happy (read: Korpiklaani). Falconer are neither of these, but certified power metal fans will no doubt find much to enjoy in its tendencies to settle for in this new genre of bourgeois-Monty-Python-metal.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net