Falconer - Chapters From A Vale Forlorn

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984-14397-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:39:00

In 2002 Falconer followed up their self-titled debut with Chapters From A Vale Forlorn. The folk-Celtic atmosphere is continued here, where a trilling flute (Sabine Daniels) is added to "Lament Of A Minstrel." A piano (Elias Holmlid) is added in the power-ballad-lament (for lack of a better term) "Portals Of Light," which is the band's epic moment. It is a song that dwells in the Symphony X-like territory, and provides a nice respite from the otherwise persistent wall of guitar-bass-drums, throttling things back to a more leisurely pace and letting guitarist/bassist Stefan Weinerhall emote deeply via lofty guitar solo. Actually Weinerhall has got a distortion thing going in "Lament Of A Minstrel" that reminded me a bit of "Cinnamon Girl" (Neil Young) and "Sunshine Of Your Love" (Cream, though not the famous riff). I bring it up only because I kept thinking, darn there's something familiar about that tone and part of the rhythm that I went on a ? ahem? quest? which actually becomes a longer story than you'll have interest in, just know that I suceeded, and shared with you the results. And now I can't get ol' NY outta my head.

So, by saying folk-Celtic I don't mean they've gone soft ? this is still a heavy, power metal band. They do still sound like a chuggier Tempest (as they did on the debut), however; especially on the somewhat catchy "Enter The Glade" and "Stand In Veneration," the latter of these adding violin to the mix (Sami Yousri). Stefan Weinerhall's guitars and bass and Karsten Larsson's drums are still very much the dominant instruments behind Mathias Blad's vocals. Blad is again credited with keyboards, but I don't hear them at all. Ah, but the unmistakable sound of a Hammond organ (Holmlid) can be heard in the heavy-AOR like "Busted To The Floor," which if it weren't quite so heavy, could be Poison's "Talk Dirty To Me." Well, just during certain phrases of the chorus (sorry to put that image in your head, I won't do it again). It will sound funny to say "this track rocks," since the band verily thunders throughout the album, but this track rocks; it shows a slightly different, hard rock side to the band, and the title refrain does give it a different cast than the folk themes of the rest of the album. Andy La Rocque, who engineered and mixed the album, also plays lead guitar on this piece, which accounts for its different cast. That aside, it is my least favorite on the album, however.

Chapters? is a shorter album, with few of the track exceeding the four minute mark, and those that do, just barely. But, given the breakneck speed with which these pieces are played (though I'd venture to say slower than speed metal/thrash), they pack a lot into those few minutes. The longest track is "For Life And Liberty" which at first glance one might think it's about a man escaping death, being chased by four hoursmen ? that is, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Well, yes, it is four horsement, but rather than chasing a man, it's the fox, being hunted (at night, strangely enough) by horse and man. Ah, but is that but mere metaphor? It is all underscored by a galloping rhythm. The piece also features a rather nice, though unflashy, guitar solo from Weinerhall.

"We Sold Our Homestead" is an English translation of a grim, traditional piece ? like Falconer's "Royal Galley," it concerns a ship, though this time it is a ship carrying passengers ? in very unaccommodating conditions (to put it mildly) ? from England across the sea. Locked in the ship's hold without food, death takes them. "The Clarion Call" is a piece about divisiveness within the kingdom ? my guess is the external enemies have been either vanquished or held at bay, or some peace accord has been reached, and restlessness, envy and greed are stirring old wounds.

Chapters From A Vale Forlorn is as good as, and many cases better, than their debut. There is more variety in the pieces, and this makes for a more balanced album. Given the recent addition of a full-time bassist (Peder Johansson) and second guitarist (Anders Johansson), the band's sound should fill out a little more, but it will be interesting to see what their new vocalist, Kristoffer Göbel brings to the ? mead hall.

Decadence Of Dignity (4:22) / Enter The Glade (3:48) / Lament Of A Minstrel (4:13) / For Life And Liberty (6:23) / We Sold Our Homesteads (4:10) / The Clarion Call (5:47) / Portals Of Light (4:07) / Stand In Veneration (3:33) / Busted To The Floor (4:17) / En Kungens Man (Japanese Bonus Track) (3:58)

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


Sabine Daniels ? flute (3)
Elias Holmlid ? piano (7) and Hammond organ (9)
Andy La Rocque ? lead guitar (9)
Johan Wikströrm ? backing vocals (7)

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: 1037
Language: english


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