Falconer – Black Moon Rising (Metal Blade Records)Monday, 9th June 2014
Stalwarts of a unique style of folk inspired, power metal infused, brand of charismatic heavy metal, Sweden’s Falconer drop their eighth album in Black Moon Rising, eagerly anticipated by their fans, and one that proves to be totally worthy.
Falconer are successful because they are a model for a complete band. Not in the general sense, but meaning that not only do they write killer riffs from album to album – memorable, identifiable riffs – they too have that special element in singer Mathias Blad, a theatrical singer with no previous metal cred before joining the group back in 2001. Indeed it is likely that it’s the unique style of this well-trained tenor, singing medieval-styled melodies and describing times of long ago, set against energetic, ripping heavy metal gallops and epics, that first grabs a newcomer to the band and forces the question: “Wow! What’s this?”
Not fucking around, Falconer gets out of the gate with a one-two combo of great songs with the furiously riffing “Locust Swarm”, with crisp, banging rhythms and soaring melody. It’s a fast one that sees Falconer bringing a blazing heaviness and sense of urgency. The latter, “Halls and Chambers” has echoes of their classic “The Clarion Call” with the mighty chorus section stripped down and rebuilt into a mandatory singalong, and with musical texture from the shredding to the subdued. Truly, this is pure Falconer…as good as it gets.
From the title track’s intense soling and tight riffs to the Ren-Faire-esque dustings on “Scoundrel and the Squire”, the headbang-bringing “Wasteland”, the indelible chorus of “At the Jester’s Ball” – displays of Falconer in top form abound. The band’s main creative force, songwriter and guitarist Stefan Weinerhall and fellow axeman Jimmy Hedlund are positively on fire, and high octane drumming and bass work round this one out to be a generally heavy and fast album.
After 2011’s great (all in Swedish) Armod, Black Moon Rising returns to the more familiar (for most of us) English language. Truly a band with no rival, Falconer adds another feather in their cap and a great chapter to their tale of yore and top-notch heavy metal.