I was more than happy to see the new Falconer album 'Black Moon Rising' in my review pile. I have all of their previous albums and have always very much liked their folky take on power metal. Previous album 'Armod' (2011) was a departure, being sung entirely in Swedish and focussing heavily on the folk elements of their music. That took me longer to appreciate but I got there eventually. In 2014, though, there is no such problem with 'Black Moon Rising'. It's probably the fastest and heaviest album Falconer have ever delivered and we are back to lyrics being sung in English.
First thing you'll probably notice is the absolutely stunning cover artwork which really does catch your eye; I hope that some bands take notice because, even in today's age of CD's and downloads, your packaging and art is still important. Secondly, and as already mentioned, this is faster and heavier than anything the band have done previously and they sound completely reinvigorated. Of course, there are still oodles of folk and medieval references in the music but all eleven songs kick some serious arse! Yes, it's power metal cheesy, but this is not a band aiming for mass consumption (like Sabaton have done with their latest release); Falconer are just firing on all cylinders.
Mathias Blad, once again, returns on vocals and his very theatrical voice (courtesy of his day job as an actor) does prove an asset because it gives the band a certain sound. I do sometimes wish there was a little more bite in his voice but his melody is spot on. To make up for that slight lack of oomph, the guitars of Stefan Weinerhall & Jimmy Hedlund, drums of Karsten Larsson and bass of Magnus Linhardt are pushed up in the production and mix (once again brilliantly handled by Andy LaRocque) and the whole album sounds huge. The speed of riffs, solos and drums is outstanding with some very catchy choruses; just check out the title track for proof.
Opener 'Locust Swarm' is the rip roaring ride that the title alone suggests and the album only really lets up for the very medieval 'Scoundrel And The Squire'. 'Wasteland's' main riff is delivered at frenetic pace, almost blast beating through the speakers and the double bass drums perfectly match the rhythm guitars. Fave song on the album is 'Age Of Runes', which might be a more mid-paced track with a simpler riff but it absolutely thunders.
Falconer have never really put out a weak album, just diverse ones, but 'Black Moon Rising' sees them returning to their metal roots and they've done it with style. Whether some long-time fans will think they have surpassed 'Northwind' (2006) is another matter. I don't think you can compare the two. All I know is 'Black Moon Rising' is a fabulous album.
BLACK MOON RISING
Review by Rick Tilley
10th June 2014
1) Locust Swarm
2) Halls and Chambers
3) Black Moon Rising
4) Scoundrel and the Squire
6) In Ruins
7) At the Jester's Ball
8) There's a Crow on the Barrow
9) Dawning of a Sombre Age
10) Age of Runes
11) The Priory
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...'Black Moon Rising' sees them returning to their metal roots and they've done it with style."