Last week saw the re-release of the self-titled debut album by Swedish folk power metal band Falconer. First released in March 2001, the new edition is a double-disc affair; the first is the full, remastered debut that came out all those years ago, whilst the second sees three brand new acoustic recordings along with four of the demos from the initial recording sessions that took place before the turn of the millennium. It serves as an ‘interlude’, the band say, before they round off their final gigs as a live band later this summer.
For those of you out there who weren’t aware of the album’s release some fourteen years ago, let’s fill you in: we all know the Scandinavians are brilliant at both folk and power metal, so combining the two seems a surefooted winner, yes? Well…perhaps. The truth is, Falconer don’t so much combine them as play power metal on some songs and folk metal on the rest. They are certainly better at the latter; it’s four songs in before the celtic-tinged A Quest for the Crown enters your lugholes and shoves out the previous three with ease. Not that the opening trio of songs are poor, but they’re not the most memorable. And don’t get me wrong, Falconer are definitely talented enough to pull off both genres, but they seem much more comfortable when indulging in a slower, more epic style of music and Mathias Blad, although having a good voice, does not possess a range that is so vital to giving power metal some balls. It’s not a bad album, but it’s not one you could see anyone playing to death.
By contrast, the second disc is worth it for the three acoustic tracks alone – in fact, it’s worth buying the whole thing for them. The band have been clever and avoided attempting note-for-note versions of Royal Galley, Wings of Serenity and Mindtraveller and it’s paid off handsomely. Indeed, after being critical earlier, it’s a very strong performance from Blad this time around and there’s a certain atmosphere created that is exceptional. From then on, we get he quartet of demos unearthed from the very late 90’s and, whilst people who aren’t familiar with the band’s work will probably glance over these, it’s always interesting to see how things changed between then and now.
In short, a rather mixed bag from Falconer: the acoustic tracks are definitely the selling point, but there’s definitely enough here to attract new fans despite the abundance of talent that can be found away from this.
Mathias Blad – Vocals
Stefan Weinerhall – Guitar
Jimmy Hedlund – Guitar
Magnus Linhardt – Bass
Karsten Larsson – Drums
Upon The Grave Of Guilt
Heresy In Disguise
Wings Of Serenity
A Quest For The Crown
Lord Of The Blacksmiths
The Past Still Lives On
Per Tyrssons Döttrar I Vänge
Royal Galley (Acoustic version 2015)
Wings of Serenity (Acoustic version 2015)
Mindtraveller (Acoustic version 2015)
Substitutional World (demo 1999)
Lord of the Blacksmiths (demo 1999)
Mindtraveller (demo 1999)
Entering Eternity (demo 1999)