Swedish metallers Falconer have returned with 2014’s full-length disc, Black Moon Rising. This is the band’s eighth studio effort, a nice blend of melodic, power, and folk metal elements. This 11-track disc is packed with classic heavy metal, power metal, and folk metal in spades. Top-tier musicianship only helps to bring the message to the eager ears of fans new and old. Well-mixed, crisp, and well-balanced, the disc doesn’t present a hurdle to the ears in the ‘delivery’ department.
The first thing to notice is that vocalist Mathias Blad‘s lack of “eunuch” falsetto screams or overly forced operatic vibrato, so common (and annoying) to the genre. His lyrics are delivered with a mellow, deep register and a rich timbre seldom heard elsewhere in metal. Both effective and pleasant to listen to, this helps deliver the band’s message, as fantasy-based as it may be.
Something the band does very well is vary their structures a bit – from the punchy introduction of “Black Moon Rising” to the aggressive drum and bass introduction in “There’s a Crow on the Barrow”. The remainder of each song generally falls in to some sort of happy medium, but the introductions are generally outstanding. “Halls and Chambers” was catchy enough to become an earworm for several days. Melodic, European, and anthemic, it’s instantly memorable. The band layers in atmosphere to several other tracks, namely the black metal bleakness of “Wasteland”, the folky jaunt of “The Priory”, and the medieval minstrel evocations during “Scoundrel and the Squire”.
Quickly passing melodic passages, what seem to be a band specialty, are apparently intended as things of beauty: fleeting. Similar to “prog rock” or progressive metal, many of the disc’s songs are intricate, complex, and take more then one listen to really grasp and enjoy.
One caveat is that Black Moon Rising seems to be “reverse top loaded”, meaning that besides the second tack, most of the better tunes are towards and at the end. This presents a nice flow for a whole-album listener, but if the aim is to find a ‘favorite song’ quickly, start from the end of the tracklist!
The album has two flaws, one being the near-constant double-bass drum and the other being a fairly inaudible bass guitar. For the amount of chops present, turn the bass up and tone down the hyperspeed taps; the band could benefit from some low end to fill their sound out more.
Halls and Chambers
Black Moon Rising
Scoundrel and the Squire
At The Jester’s Ball
There’s a Crow on the Barrow
Dawning of a Sombre Age
Age of Runes
Official Band Website