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Power metal sets itself apart from the other genres this site is dedicated to with an upbeat atmosphere and a positive, uplifting tone, but not every band in the subgenre subscribes to this approach. One of the more prominent power metal groups that decided not to inject the happiness of a thousand rainbows into their sound is Falconer. Bandleader Stefan Weinerhall (don't laugh) was in viking metal band Mithotyn before founding Falconer and the darker mood of his former band bleeds over into his current one a bit. With a slight folk edge, this Swedish group delivers a more mysterious, far less cheerful auditory picture than what power metal fans are used to.
This isn't the sort of album chock full of speedy playing or keyboard-driven symphonic grandiosity. Though this debut does have fast double bass-laden parts, the verses tend to be mid-paced and built on fairly simple riffs. There are captivating leads throughout, delivering a mystical feel that complements the slower pace and the evocative, medieval-flavored atmosphere. Said atmosphere, somehow, is brought to fruition simply with drums, bass, and guitar. Sure, a keyboard will add something here and there but the albums' ability to conjure up a somber mood without relying on keyboard orchestration or an abundance of slow, acoustic parts is impressive, sometimes even astonishing. In moments where the focus is on licks built with single notes, all Falconer needs is a basic, well-constructed folk melody to weave its magic.
There aren't many parts in this album that sound like normal power metal. One such moment comes around during the chorus of 'Mindtraveller' (yeah, they spelled 'traveler' wrong), perhaps this album's most appealing song. Here the sudden increase in tempo gives the chorus quite a bit of contrast with the preceding verse, which sounds almost complacent (but not at all boring) by comparison. Even better, this doesn't throw off the album's tone, with Matthias Blad's unique operatic vocals fitting perfectly over it. Most of 'Royal Galley' is built on speedier passages as well, though it too has a darker tone (both in terms of the lyrics and the way the guitar is distorted) than just about any other power metal song Sweden has ever produced.
This album's main weakness is the riffing. During many of the verses, the guitars turn out crunchy riffs that wouldn't be too out of place on modern rock radio. Usually Blad sings over them, effectively hiding their simplicity. Still though, while these riffs may not be bad, they're not especially charismatic, sometimes seeming like they were thrown together five minutes before some deadline. This is especially notable in some of the intros, which, without vocals to cover them up, fail to suck you in.
Nothing about the drums or bass is noteworthy or even all that noticeable. Falconer's rhythm section is the kind that doesn't do anything beyond what it needs to. It fits with what the guitarist is doing but doesn't make any attempt to catch your attention. Even Weinerhall's (seriously, stop laughing) guitar playing is fairly subdued, substituting flash for an enthralling mood. Nothing here sounds especially technical or difficult to play, not even the solos, which focus on maintaining a strong rhythm that fits with the rest of the song. Rarely are these solos memorable or exciting but they deliver a nice continuity in the album's sound.
When Falconer isn't leaning on melodic solos or the occasional medieval-sounding rhythm, it depends solely on vocalist Matthias Blad for its appeal. Fortunately, if anyone can make these sometimes stale riffs exciting, it's him. All through this album, Blad steals the show. This guy was trained as an actor and was a prolific stage performer in Sweden before Weinerhall recruited him and his prior work experience largely shapes his approach to vocals. Employing a rich, dramatic style, his singing is like nothing else in all of power metal. His voice, which is pretty damn deep for the genre, but not gravelly, fits the darker than normal music and often has an appealing hypnotic quality, whether he's moving through a verse or he's bellowing with all the operatic force he can muster. No matter what he's doing, his style has an epic feel that, by itself, conjures up images of the gritty fantasy setting the band has envisioned.
While the weakness of the riffing and general lack of standout instrumental performances neuters a few of these songs ('Wings of Serenity' isn't bad but it sure is forgettable), some of this album's other aspects, namely the darker tone, touches of folk music, and amazing vocals, succeed in outweighing the stuff that's not quite up to par. If you don't mind an album's appeal coming mostly from the vocals, this journey through a bleak medieval landscape is well worth your time.
I tackled Grime vs. Grandeur some time ago and still stand by my original decision that a Falconer without Blad is still a cohesive and well-oiled unit. Sure, Göbel has a far safer and less emotive set of pipes on him, but the excessively stripped-down style that the band purveyed with him at the helm had its appeals. Regardless, what needs to be stressed is that Falconer's unique and easy-to-respect "going against the grain" aesthetic is due primarily to Blad's measured croons. Falconer is indeed a difficult album to hate, but conversely very difficult for some individuals to truly get into. I can definitely comprehend the stylistic adjustment post-Mithotyn causing some undue waves in Weinerhall's fanbase (does he even have one?), but Falconer has aged quite well and soars high and mighty in more ways than one.
The listener is still on the receiving end of a cross-section of the heavy and power metal genres here, and Falconer has always been a stellar example of said dichotomy. Weinerhall has a very distinctive style, more in line with German acts like Grave Digger and Rage in delivery and subdued reliance on the almighty hook. I just like the way he pieces the low-end frets together with the eventual melodic tail. The riffs are by no means excessively catchy, but represent more of an essential, no-frills modus operandi that doesn't draw undue attention away from the more obvious glamors present here. The guitars clang and thrash away in the background, only occasionally breaking out of their cemented mid-tempo volley. This reliance on a more subdued, measured velocity isn't as a big of a liability as it would be with a more prototypical power metal act, and Falconer's atypical approach helps them dodge more than a few bullets in this regard.
Considering the above alone, we would only have a few cornerstone pieces to a potentially greater whole. This is where Blad steps in and slingshots the proceedings into an entirely new echelon. It should go without saying that the choruses are spectacular and memorable, but more than a few examples from Falconer find themselves amongst the most esteemed company in this regard. "Wings of Serenity," "Royal Galley," and especially "Lord of the Blacksmiths" truly clear the ballpark when the golden moment swings around. The latter is an absolute classic, featuring both the greatest individual riff and chorus on the entire album. Save for the more laid-back "The Past Still Lives On," the remainder of Falconer follows a fairly predictable blueprint, only ebbing and flowing regarding a stronger reliance on either the vocals or the riffs. Cuts like "Mindtraveller" and "Upon the Grave of Guilt" give Weinerhall more time in the spotlight, while the same can be said regarding Blad on more melodic outings like "Winds of Serenity" and "A Quest for the Crown." Whatever way you slice it, there is little to complain about.
Why Falconer as a band is so endearing is a difficult concept to assess on first blush. I honestly still don't know where I stand regarding their modern output, as I haven't given the latest two records many spins yet. What I do know is that I respect Weinerhall for sticking to his guns and manning one hell of a distinctive ship. Many like to classify Falconer as a "medieval" metal act, a distinction which I have always found to be far too abstruse and easy to anoint upon them. Personally, I have always gotten more of a late-Renaissance vibe from their music and lyrics, and this seems to be what the band is aiming for from a conceptual perspective. Sure, some of the lyrics are completely banal and laugh-out-loud funny, but they are still delivered with commendable conviction, a descriptor that fits the band in just about every regard. Great debut.
Falconer are a very interesting band to me. They were one of the first metal bands I ever got into, with their song "Enter the Glade", and while their sound is neither typical of popular PM nor really seen anywhere else for the most part, they seem to have quite a bit of renown in the europower scene. For some reason a lot of the "classic" 80's USPM folks don't really seem to like 'em, although I'm definitely the exception to that rule. At first I thought it might be pure nostalgia, but then I realized a lot of the songs I've come to like recently are ones I didn't enjoy that much five years ago...so I'd definitely say Falconer are worthy of the praise I will give them here. Admittedly, they're not the most consistent band of all time, and Mithotyn, the band which most of the members were in previously, is pretty abysmal stuff (not the good kind). The riffs in that band were decent from what I remember, but the vocals were terrible. Enter the creation of Falconer, and classically-trained, utterly un-metal Mathias Blad (well, except for his name and the fact that he has a falcon-ish nose!). Blad tends to be a pretty polarizing character, as he is very technically skilled but a lot of people think he has no place in a metal band. I guess a more classic example of this sort of singer is Michael Kiske and Helloween, but I'd say Blad is a lot more pleasing to the ear than Kiske, and way, way less of a douchebag (although that's not too much of an accomplishment considering Kiske's utter douchiness). In Kiske's case, I believe he was a worse singer than Hansen and a worse fit for the band (although they did start getting a lot more gay after the debut), whereas with Blad, I feel he's a much better vocalist than the guy from Mithotyn (can't remember his name), and I also feel he's an excellent fit for the style of music presented.
I'm not sure how much of the material Blad actually wrote here - I'm fairly sure at least some of the vocal lines are his, as they tend to be very uplifting in an un-metal way in places; I'm inclined to think he also wrote some of the acoustic sections, as they complement those sorts of vocals. Kudos to Weinerhall (best last name ever?) if he did write them - it's a pretty radical transition from the last Mithotyn album just 2 years earlier. Anyway, Weinerhall is definitely a good songwriter, as the riffs on this album are catchy as hell and they just FUCKING SLAY. This is the best Falconer album for sure, the only one I truly love along with the follow-up, Chapter from a Tale Forlorn. I'm not sure how a third Blad album would've turned out if he had stayed on after Chapters; Kristoffer Gobel, while a decent singer, is a very generic-sounding heavy metal vocalist, and the vocal lines on the two albums with him were clearly written more for Blad's style. Some songs are cheesy and simple enough that they still work decently well, such as "Emotional Skies" (the music video for this song is one of the best "so bad it's good" videos ever), but the band really dropped off at that point, and while there has been some good material on their subsequent Blad albums, none has been able to compete with the first two.
So - to the music itself. Despite Falconer's reputation as really weak metal, there's not a ballad, or even a slower song on here, aside from "The Past Still Lives On", which blows pretty hard. It's a banal, lifeless repetition of verses that evokes absolutely no emotional response in me, a trend they'd continue with Chapters' "They Sold Our Homesteads". Luckily, that's the only clunker here, and everything else is speedy, riff-tastic metal. Yes, there are a few acoustic passages, but they're put in the right spots and very tastefully done; this is is no way, shape, or form europower, as keyboards are used very sparsely and never alongside the electric guitar, letting it dominate alongside Blad for the vast majority of the album. The guitar tone is sharp and heavy, by the way, leaving most europower albums' guitar tones in the dust. The only production issue I have is that Blad is a little too low in the mix at times ("Upon the Grave of Guilt", "Heresy in Disguise"), but it's not so bad as to be unlistenable, just slightly annoying at times. The bass is even audible at times, something that's virtually unheard of in modern power metal; the bass line in the first part of "Entering Eternity" is pretty damn cool.
The lyrics are pretty awesome for the most part, too. Not always in the sword and sorcery, Tolkien, Moorcock, or Howard way, but cool nonetheless. "Upon the Grave of Guilt" is very introspective, and while it's certainly not high prose, it's dark enough that being personal isn't a problem. Hearing Blad bellow "Dark recollections gnaw my inside..." is pretty fucking sweet. "Heresy in Disguise" doesn't have amazing lyrics, but the music more than makes up for it, and part of the second verse is hilarious.
Brother William, brother of sin, what do you do as the sun descends?
Assumedly it's probably referring to some kind of pagan and/or Satanic practices, but considering the reputation priests have, it's impossible for me to not take it sexually (also being a 20-year-old male probably contributes). The main galloping riff in this song is SO FUCKING GOOD, it's used a lot here but I just never get tired of it. "Royal Galley" is pretty fun for the 'pirate metal' aspect, although the lyrics are neither original nor terribly great. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are awesome though, nobody can pull of a "WHOA-OH-OH-OH-OH-OOOOOH" quite like Blad. "Substitutional World" has really well-crafted lyrics; the prose is actually quite solid and the message, while not terribly subtle, is presented in a clever way. It's a pretty obvious shot at the modern area, people staying inside all day and not experiencing nature (I'm obviously guilty of this), creating their own fantasies, but the medieval-style language in which it's presented makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Very well done for sure, and it also features one of the best acoustic passages on the album.
Finally, "Lord of the Blacksmiths" is really cheesy PM with obvious, goofy fantasy tropes, but it's presented in such a serious way and has such great music that it's still pretty great. I'm honestly not sure whether it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek at all or not; as I said it's presented seriously, but some of the lyrics are so laughably cheesy (read: awful) that it's hard to think they could've been taking themselves seriously writing them. Stuff such as "Uncrushable shields, power belts and magic rings; Swords that never miss; sceptres and crowns and other things" is a little over-the-top, and the anvil striking towards the end of the song is incredibly goofy, but it just fucking works. It reminds me a bit of Stormwitch's classic "Sword of Sagon" - not quite as good, but still an utter compliment.
Ultimately, while the album isn't the best power metal of all time or anything, it's extremely solid, and much better than it's often perceived to be by most of the non-europower metal fanbase. Not sure if Blad just completely turns off some people or something, but I'd easily say he's more ballsy than certain female-fronted europower outfits (read: Skylark), and no less ballsy than say, Roy Khan, who was also a classical singer before he ever got into metal. Anyway, Blad's a fantastic vocalist, the riffs here rip, any fan of classic heavy/power metal should check it out - that's all you need to know. Never understood the hate but either way check it out.
Power metal seems to be quiet a touchy subject to your stereotypical metal head. People seem to either love or hate it. I however will say outright that I love the genre myself. This album in particular proving to be one of my favorites in the genre. Full of amazing riff work that varies in tempo and in places is full of great, folk inspired catchy melodies.
So what makes this album so special? Well first of all I would say this album has its own identity in a genre that admittedly has a lot of bands that sound similar and copy cat bands. The first stamp of identity is singer Mathias Blad's performance on this disc. He delivers his vocals in a mid range almost monotone style that is quite hard to describe. Some people have slated the man, I stand by him one hundred and ten percent. His voice is powerful and certainly unique, different from the other nine thousand ball in a vice type power metal singers. He add's a mystical edge to the music particularly in parts where he does his choirs, sometimes with a female singer Ulrka Olawsson who provides these backing vocals, they amount to a big sound and are not cheesy in any way.
Stefan Weinerhall is a riff master if there ever was one. Laying down many variations of powerful and hook ridden riffs on the disc. His lead work is also superb, unleashing folk inspired melody's and melodic shred type solo's that aren't just laid down for techniques sake. The guitar leads actually add to the music and you will be able to hum his solo's. The riff's are actually quite heavy for power metal, the guitar's are tuned down to D standard and when the band decide to go full speed they pack quite a furious punch. The production has to be mentioned here also and its absolutely superb. Crystal clear and packing a punch the guitar tone is a nice fat round sound and the bass is audible, the drums sound nice also, the sticks sound like they are rolling of the kit superbly. The bass drum is obviously quite audible with it been a power metal album. However the band do not always use and abuse double bass kick drum sections. Take the odd timing mid paced section of "Mindtraveller" which is almost verging on progressive metal territory.
For personal standout's on the disc I would have to first mention the aforementioned track "Mindtraveller". The song for me contains a lot of great memories when I first got this disc in the summer of 2010. Listening to the album constantly on my I-pod in the sun when I first got the disc, this song was the first to stand out to me. With it's brilliant opening lead, amazing chorus backed with a choir sound on the keys which gives the song a mystical feel and its generally uplifting vibe. The opener "Upon The Grave of Guilt" with some of the fastest riffs on the album and a beautiful clean ending. Last song I wish to mention in my personal three "pick tracks" is Entering Eternity. This has an amazing opening riff/melody thing. With one of the best and most catchy chorus's on the album, the song also sports some great faster up tempo riffs which are full of energy.
But in all honesty there are no weak spots on the album. Each song delivers and the track listing was decided intelligently making the album flow very well. The songs all have their own personal identity and are delivered in a consistent package. This disc is really not your stereotypical power metal album for all it is uplifting the music also has a somber edge in places backed with its mystical folk stories which is all conveyed in the music to back it up. I would urge any power metal fan who hasn't heard this to pick it up asap. It's a one of a kind album with a very special feel. Also I would say for anyone not a massive fan of typical power metal bands such as Gamma Ray, Sonata Arcitca or Stratovarius to give this a try as it has a different feel to most power metal.
A beautiful, somber and mystical journey of folk inspired power metal. A must have a one of a kind masterwork of a sub genre, highly, highly recommended.
I know that power metal has ironically become the most 'powerless' genre of metal, but most melodic/keyboard/fairy-obsessed power (or flower) metal band still has some degree of power, centred in high levels of epicness and power-pop style upbeatness. Sure, Sonata Arctica are no Jag Panzer, but they still deliver fast, high energy, feel good melodic metal. Falconer are another modern (in comparison the Ample Destruction) power metal band that have got a lot of positive press but they don't go with the whole overly-melodic, symphonic nature of most modern power metal. I most assume that that's the only reason anybody approves of this album.
Because this is some pretty terrible music right here. Power metal, being the most melodic metal genre, must at least indulge in melody a fair bit, but all of the riffs here are completely dull and uninspired. The guitarists stick to either a simple, hard rockin' power chord drive, or they play faux-celtic riffs and neither kind are memorable or even temporarily entertaining. Of course, there are quite a lot of modern power metal bands (Nightwish for instance) that just use the guitars to beef out their sound while the vocals carry the main melodies and hooks - a bit shallow, but it works. Falconer don't do that either though, they employ a fucking awful mid-pitched vocalist that sings in a professionally capable but otherwise horribly monotonous voice that lacks any kind of strength or power and gets ridiculously annoying after a few minutes in.
There's not much else to say about it really. It's just generic riffs and annoying vocals. There are some grating jig moments, like the break in 'Upon the Grave of Guilt', and the lyrics are really horribly cheesy and simplistic fantasy stories, but outside of these atrocities it's just a very dull album that grates after a while and has a really bizarrely high reputation. Go figure.
Falconer is the band created by Stefan Weinerhall and Karsten Larsson after the split-up of Mithotyn. I’m a huge Mithotyn fan, so I knew I was going to like it right off the bat. Its power metal this time only with clean vocals instead of the harsh vocals Mithotyn did, although this is not the typical power metal band that you would come to expect.
The differences in this style of power metal are what make it so good. The vocals are the first big difference. Mathias Blad is an amazing vocalist; in fact he is one of my favorite power metal vocalists. But what makes him good and distinct from the others is how rich and full his voice is even on high notes. It’s not ever an empty or hollow sound like some power metal vocalist do on those high pitched shrieking notes. His voice is smooth and soaring throughout the whole album.
The lyrics are just great here. The lyrics/guitar tones bring out a medieval atmosphere that is amazing. Just listening to them brings out a 13th century vibe to them, giving the band an even more unique sound. And Blads voice along with the lyrics makes them even greater.
The guitar tone is also quite different than other power metal bands. Much like the vocals/lyrics, they have medieval style melodies that can also be surprisingly heavy at times. Mix Blads vocals with the guitar tone and all you have to do is just close your eyes and you can picture that whole medieval picture. Also the keyboard work in songs like “Substitutional World” makes them even more amazing.
This is an amazing album. Everything they do they do it well. It’s not your typical power metal, but that is also what makes it so unique. Mathias Blads voice is just amazing, and the lyrics will make you want to sing along. I highly recommend this one, hell you should own it. Seriously, go out and buy it now.
You wouldn’t think a dead Viking black metal band (Mithotyn) would ever rise from its grave as a power metal band… nor would you expect that power metal band to be very good… would you? If so, then Falconer will prove you wrong. This album is freakin amazing.
This definitely isn’t your typical bouncy, light, symphonic stuff. There is a forceful element to the heavy, medieval-influenced guitar melodies that seems to blend perfectly with the vocals of Mathias Blad. Have you heard this guy sing? It’s inspirational. It seems bringing in a veteran of Swedish musical theatre was a sound career move for Falconer. His vocals are crisp and clean- not nasally high-pitched, but he can hit the high notes you bet your balls. The lower medium range he uses is impressive, it’s confident and melodic and it really works well with the medieval flavour of the music. He does his own backing vocals (layered in) which makes for some really great vocal harmonies.
Admittedly the lyrics could have been crafted a bit better, but I can easily overlook the few grammatical inconsistencies in the lyrics simply because they are sung so well (and their native tongue is Swedish after all). The guitars have a slight unpolished finish that adds intensity and makes the music sound more vigorous, less like traditional power metal. The songs are fast and original, the catchy vocal melodies will have you singing along (well I don’t know about you, but they had me singing along).
There is definitely talent here. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill fill. The guitars are hard-hitting and the vocals are striking. The guitars might seem a little strident in comparison to the vocals, but the vocals are so eloquent that they are never drowned out by the guitars. Given that this is their first album, I am very impressed with its outcome, not to mention enamored by the vocals. Highly recommended.
When you think of power metal, don't you normally think of men with long hair, playing overly light and happy melodies on a keyboard with the occasional guitar solo thrown in. You could also think of the men straining their voices trying to hit as many high notes as possible. Falconer is different and does a good job with it.
The first difference is that the band hired a professional actor/singer for Swedish musicals. Mathias Blad's voice is not shrieky, in fact it is quite the opposite. His voice is almost soothing. Whereas in the common power metal, high notes can get very annoying and even painful sometimes, Mathias's high notes still have the soothing tone to them. Even with the soothing tone, the music still can keep the pace up. In a few songs(Wings of Serenity) it sounds like there are other female singers in the background. The duet makes this song even better than usual. With the female vocals you can almost feel yourself soaring.
The next large difference is the amount of guitar in this album compared to the usual keyboard. Although not forgotten, the keyboard plays a much smaller role than you would expect. If you listen carefully you can hear it a select parts, but not much more than that. The guitar melodies have a middle age feeling to them, which adds to the musics difference compared to other power metal. The two guitars move quickly along, swapping solos, and making the songs interesting and fun to listen to.
The album as a whole sounds as if you took a band from the middle ages and brought them here, in this time period, and gave them modern instruments to play. With the catchy choruses and clean vocals, you can't deny that it's power metal, but you also can't deny how genuinely good this album is.
Wow, wow, re-fucking-wow. I just bought this album and went trough over and over again for like four hours. This is....PERFECT. This is where the power metal reached the epitome of perfection. I knew Falconer for a few years, but only listened to a few songs from different albums. I knew they were an aswesome power metal band, but before listening to this album I didn't knew how good they were.Here is a song by song review, because I can't help but not to neglect any crafty details...
The album kicks off with "Upon The Grave Of Guilt", which is all about the guitar. Stefan made some very poignant guitar riffs that finds a way to your soul. This is a very sorrowful song, but yet, Mathias's enthusiastic voice is there to remind you it's just a song. Then, it's "Heresy in disguise" who's full of nice voices harmonies. Very catchy song, which is a nice set up for the big hit "Wings Of Serenity" which follows. This is a very popular Falconer song, and the very first song I've heard from them. Fast drums, kick ass low vocals this is as good as you can get in power metal. Next in line is "A Quest For The Crown" another well renowned song. Once again Mathias runs the show with perfect vocals and a very charismatic storytelling.
You still don't seem satisfied don't you? Falconer follows up with "Mindtraveller" who kicks off with a very very catchy riff which you can mumble for days after you're done listening this album. The song itself is very catchy and very enjoyable. It's one of their most fast paced song. Number six, seven, eight are "Entering Enternity", "Royal Galley" and "Substitutionnal World" . If this album have a weak point, it's these songs, They are excellent, but they all kind of sound like each other. Personally I didn't minded much, because they are all good songs, but it might bug some crafty musicians.
Ninth song is "Lord Of The Blacksmiths" which is heavier than most of the previous ones. Very heavy guitars, but still it's very catchy and it's flowing with the atmosphere of the album. You almost feel like forging when listening to this song. That's how a medieval sound should make you feel in my opinion. Last song but not the least, "The past lives on" which is an amazing, even maybe a classic signalong.
Seriously this album is all about Stefan and Mathias and their artistic vision. If you guys are like me, not musicians, just fans...this album is for you. That has some feeling in it.
Every time I think about this album, I relive painful memories of being forced to listen to it, as people told me that it was so amazing and creative and completely unlike other power metal.
Well, they were right. It is different. Other power metal isn't the most boring stuff ever. Other power metal has balls of steel, and either is Ample Destruction or closely resembles it. Other power metal isn't a goddamn In Flames album, except with clean vocals.
That pretty much right there sums up the two things wrong with this album. One, the riffs are complete Gothenburg worship... slow, meandering, pointless "melodic" bullshit that makes Iommi want to kill himself, just so he can roll around in his grave. Then the vocalist - oh dear lord, the vocalist. What a goddamn novelty act. The sonorous equivalent of Mike Patton: sure it sounds technically GOOD, but he's annoying as shit, and is pretty much the centerpiece of the band, which is an absolute no-no for metal. I'd rather listen to Gene Adam.
This has to be pretty much the least interesting album I've ever heard. What is it with Gothenburg-styled bands compensating for their lack of good riffs with nonsensical vocal approaches? Dumbened down Iron Maiden "worship" that just fails to ever get to the point. Songs that go nowhere, and there isn't a single damn catchy hook to be found. Nothing that grabs you by the throat and says "headbang! Now!". Contrast this with a GOOD power-metal album, for example Diamond Head's Lightning to the Nations, which issues that edict, oh about one second after you put the needle down.
Highlights... I can't even remember. I haven't heard this piece of shit in months. Quest for the Crown, I suppose, was insipid but at least somewhat upbeat. The opener, Grave of Guilt, sounds like it might almost go somewhere, before the vocalist does that attention-whore thing in the middle. The rest of the album? At this point I was screaming, dying from inside, waiting until the experiment was over... and it never was. Matt, you must die in Hell.
People will tell you this is different. People will tell you it's the only power metal worth hearing. Fuck no. You know what they do to the "different" - they lock them in graves. If you hate flower metal, that doesn't mean you need to be subjected to this. Find yourself some classic Blind Guardian and forget this thing ever existed.
If someone were to ask me if this is a good album to use to get into power metal, I'd be forced to punch them in the face and point them in the direction of some good ol' Blind Guardian or Stratovarius or any number of other power metal bands before they came anywhere near Falconer. Their s/t release is absolutely amazing, blowing every other power metal band, album, song, whatever you want to throw at me, out of the water.
The biggest point of hate most people have for power metal (other than lyrics) is the vocals; in most bands, as you most certainly already know, the vocalist sounds like he just got a swift kick to the nuts, but Blad is different. He keeps his vocals towards the higher part of middle range, but when he goes high it's not the sackless, empty, hollow high that most power metal vocalists get, it's full, rich, soaring, perfect.
The guitar work on this album is absolutely brilliant, for lack of any other phrase. Each song is completely original, with no repitition between songs, and yet there is something there that joins it all together, some sort of similarity in all the songs that brings the album together into a cohesive, unbreakable musical work. Not only is the guitar work original and constantly changing between songs, it's so much fun to listen to. Unlike some power albums (most notably those of Iced Earth, though they're not entirely power), Falconer's s/t does not lose its luster, its brilliance after repeated listens: it withstands that difficult test of time.
As mentioned before, the drumming doesn't stand out too much, as drums seem to do in other bands, though not necessarily limited to power metal (Origin immediately comes to mind), but it's still extremely good. It doesn't stand out for two reasons, again as mentioned before: because everything else is just that fantastic, and because they just fit in that seamlessly. It's a feat like this that shows the songwriting brilliance of Falconer.
The biggest thing that this album has going for it is its perfect balance. Nothing comes in too much, nothing comes in too little, everything is in perfect balance, perfect harmony. It's almost as if someone had gotten a classical composer to write the music and vocal parts for this album, it's so perfect. It is certainly the best power metal release I have heard to date, and very well may be the best power metal release ever.
This album is in stark contrast to the overdone keyboards, castrated singing, and horrible riffing of most popular power metal *coughblindguardiancough*. I listen to a lot of power metal, and there is no other band who has a sound even remotely similar to Falconer. This is in large part due to the amazing vocals of Mathias Blad. There are so many vocalists in power metal who sound de-balled, but not Mathias. He has a much deeper and fuller sounding voice than is commonly heard, yet he still has an excellent range. Even on the high notes, his voice doesn't sound forced, and still carries intense power and emotion.
The second thing that stands out is the guitar work of Stefan Weinerhall. There isn't a single boring riff on this album. I agree with a previous reviewer who said that the rhythm guitar sounds a bit "dirty", but this doesn't detract from the album, it instead adds to the sound. Another excellent feature is the way Weinerhall will go from a low chugging riff into a melo-death esque lead, and back again.
One thing that doesn't jump out at the listener is the drumming. Contrary to what you might think, this is not because the drumming isn't impressive, but because the vocals and riffing are so captivating, and the drumming fits so perfectly into the music, that it blends into the song for one euphoric musical enjoyment session. When you focus on the drums, the speed and timing of the double bass is very impressive. And I'm not talking the horribly overdone stuff like Stratovarius often abuses, this is very masterfully done.
I'm not one who really notices the bassline in music, but a few songs such as Heresy In Disguise and Entering Eternity really feature it in places. Again, I must point out that it isn't overdone or overprominent.
If I had to describe Falconer in one word, I couldn't do it. But if I was asked to descibe them in two words, I would say "Perfect balance." Nothing in their music gets drowned out, and nothing is too prominent. This album is the best example you will hear of how power metal should sound. If you shy away from the whole genre due to the cheese and fluff so abhorrently displayed by the so called best power metal bands, then this is the album for you.
Song highlights: The whole album, but if I had to pick, I'd choose Heresy In Disguise, Mindtraveller, Substitutional World, and Entering Eternity.
Stefan Weinerhall of course started Falconer after his Mithotyn project folded. Even though the bands are somewhat at supposed opposite ends of the metal spectrum i.e. Mithotyn played Viking Metal and Falconer play Power Metal, the bands do have a lot in common, at least from a musical stand point.
This s/t debut from Falconer is an excellent slab of Power Metal that sounds different. There are two reasons for this: one is the vocals of Mattias Blad, and the other is the riff style of Weinerhall. Blad probably has the most unique vocal style in Power Metal. He is a classically trained singer and the result is a singing style and voice that nobody even comes close to. To some it might be a turn off, but to me he just adds an incredible amount of originality, character, and emotion to the band; though perhaps there are certain vocal lines that could be delivered more forcefully (would be corrected on their second release). Weinerhall’s guitars are somewhat of a hold over from Mithotyn, but instead of Black Metal roots being at the fore front at times, there are Speed Metal roots instead. If you’re familiar with the folkish style in Mithotyn, you’re on the right track as to what you can expect. It’s really one of those situations where description wouldn’t do it justice, however, if you can picture a Power Metal version of early In Flame leads or Gates Of Ishtar leads, then it’s another starting point at least.
There are essentially three different styles of songs on here. You got the straight-ahead, very fast songs that follow somewhat typical song progression, which usually includes an unexpected and interesting break near the end; “Wings Of Serenity” is the best example. Other songs like this include “Royal Galley” which has an excellent sing-a-long chorus, and “Upon The Grave Of Guilt”, which kicks off the CD with some great galloping riffage. Another style present is a more progressive style that has more breaks, more change ups, and just overall a more sophisticated structure. Both “Mindtraveller” and “Substitutional World” work very well in this regard and are two definite highlights of the CD. Lastly is the mid-paced, more laid back song: “Quest For The Crown”, while still being heavy is quite unlike the speedy tracks and contains another great chorus; likewise “Entering Eternity” is the song closest to a ballad on here. No, it’s not a ballad, but it is the slowest song on this release and focuses more on vocals, however, it does speed up during an excellent build up section near the end.
Production wise the band isn’t quite crystal clear. The guitars have a certain dirty quality, sort of like Mithotyn. In my opinion this works in Falconer’s favor as it further separates them from other Power Metal bands. Overall everything is mixed well, including the bass, which does a nice rhythm job to compliment the guitars. The drumming is especially impressive for the genre. The double bass and snare speed is usually not heard this fast in other Power Metal bands and the fills are all over the place. Yeah, there are better drummers out there, but as far as Power Metal goes the performance on here from a shear speed standpoint is top notch. Also, the keys only play a very minor role in the music. They only show up, noticeably, in a couple of songs and they are more there for just some background atmosphere, so if you’re one of those keyboard hating people don’t fret, the guitars always come first.
I’ve been listening to this CD on and off since it came out and it remains one of my favorite Power Metal releases. It’s just one of those CDs that is extremely enjoyable to listen to and it makes for an experience that another band can’t give due to the guitar style and vocals. Yes, I’ll admit, the lyrics can be a tad cheesy, but they don’t detract from the quality of the music. Power Metal fans, check Falconer out, you might be surprised.
Song Highlights: Everything is solid, though Lord Of The Blacksmiths is probably the weakest track.