Falconer - Falconer

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984-14355-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:24:00

My first thought upon listening to Falconer's 2001 self-titled debut began as a rather ho-hum reaction. But as the album progressed my interest was drawn in a bit more, and upon hearing a few more times, I found more and more I liked about it. The quick background is that in the early 90s there was a metal band called Mithotyn which, from what I gather, was a well regarded "Viking metal" band ? and which dissolved in 1999. Two members, guitarist Stefan Weinerhall and drummer Karsten Larsson began a new project, Falconer. While stylistically there similarities between the two bands, Weinerhall (who also plays bass here) elected to go with clean vocals with Falconer, recruiting Mathias Blad. Up until now, Falconer has been strictly a studio band, releasing two albums so far, the second being last year's Chapters From A Vale Forlorn. We'll pick up the bio at the end of the review?

While I always notice lyrics, even if I don't comment on them, as I was listening to this, and to "A Quest For The Crown" in particular, my attention was not drawn to the words themselves, but to the number beats within them ? averaging about 9. And what actually drew my attention was no the fact of so many beats, but that to make it work, extra words are added to may the rhythm work, which only makes it seem awkward. And yet, of course, hearing them sung, they seem to flow better than when they are read. But, since I brought it up, the song concerns the quest for the king's missing crown, lost while the king was out on the crusades. Though they don't play it that way, there could be some humour in this episode, if the anticipated consequences weren't so dire. As in fantasy fiction, the kingdom will fail if the crown is not found. The reason I say humorous is because I'm thinking of how Shakespeare might have scripted a situation, seeing it more as one of his comedies (especially given where the crown is eventually found) rather than tragedies.

Anyway, looking at the cover you'd think Falconer were a very dark (as in death metal) and, dare I say, growly band (which Mithotyn were). They're not, and I'd actually describe them as a metallic version of Tempest. Vocalist and keyboardist Mathias Blad doesn't have the deep rich voice of Lief Sorbye (though he can get into that range), so that, along with the chugging wall of heavy guitar-bass-drums, becomes the difference. However, I do like Blad's voice, as it is well suited to the material, able to handle both the dense sections as well as the few sparse (or acoustic) sections, such as the intro to "Quest?," (which is one of my favorite tracks, nice use of harmonized vocals) and the bridge of the otherwise clich?-ic "Wings Of Serenity" (eagle = freedom). Blad's not a "sing to the rafters" kind of vocalist, though I think if he wanted to, he'd have no trouble doing so. Mainly he keeps his voice pretty much on an even keel (though not monotone). In fact, the more I think about it, Blad sounds at times like the late Stuart Adamson (Big Country), which is fine in my book. Because topically their songs have a medieval setting, this is another reason why I thought of Tempest. Though in the case of "The Past Still Lives On," I thought a bit of Kansas, only a much heavier version. Along the lines of other bands in the genre they're in, I have to say Jag Panzer or Blind Guardian would be close comparions, with the occasional hint of Iron Maiden, but this latter isn't very much.

Instrumentally speaking, as I said, the band's sound is very much guitar, bass and drums dominated, which isn't surprising given that these two spearheaded the project. These three combine to create that a wall of sound, that is only throttled back slightly when Weinerhall solos. Though Blad also plays keys, they aren't prominent in the mix (I'd say they aren't present at all). Another track that I liked from the opening guitar melody to the main vocals to the assertive energy of the piece is "Mindtraveller," though that latter element is part and parcel of the whole album. I say they aren't dark, but in fact, they are, especially in the grim "Royal Galley" about the first and last voyage of a king's vessel. And certainly "Entering Eternity" is about death, though it isn't exactly painted in dark terms. "Substitutional World" has another mellow bridge, one the most beautiful of the bunch, leading into a terrific solo from Weinerhall.

Well, I wasn't sure what to expect before putting this CD on, but having played it now about a half-dozen times at least, I've come out the other end liking it quite a bit, especially the guitar and vocals. I'd like to hear a little more dynamics in the wall of sound production, because I just know there's more going on instrumentally than can be heard, so I've hopes for Chapters From A Vale Forlorn, their second release, which is next in the queue for me.

? continuing the bio: Blad left the band after the release of their second album. Vocals on the follow up album The Sceptre Of Deception will be handled by Kristoffer Göbel, with the addition of Anders Johansson on guitar and Peder Johansson on bass to the line up.

Upon The Grave Of Guilt (4:57) / Heresy In Disguise (5:19) / Wings Of Serenity (5:00) / A Quest For The Crown (4:14) / Mindtraveller (5:45) / Entering Eternity (5:14) / Royal Galley (4:16) / Substitutional World (7:42) / Lord Of The Blacksmiths (4:43) / The Past Still Lives On (4:34)

(some versions add the bonus track: Per Tyrssons D?ttar I V?nge (4:51))

Stefan Weinerhall ? guitars, bass
Karsten Larsson ? drums and percussion
Mathias Blad ? vocals, keyboards and backing vocals


Ulrika Olausson ? backing vocals

Falconer (2001)
Chapters From Vale Forlorn (2002)
The Sceptre Of Deception (2003)
Grime Vs Grandeur (2005)
Northwind (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: June 23rd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.falconermusic.com
Hits: 1161
Language: english


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