Saturday, October 21, 2006

with wings



falconer - 'northwind'

released: october 2006
metal blade records


songs:
1. northwind 2. waltz with the dead 3. spirit of the hawk 4. legend and the lore 5. catch the shadows 6. tower of the queen 7. long gone by 8. perjury and sanctity 9. fairyland fanfare 10. himmel så trind 11. blinded 12. delusion 13. home of the knave 14. black tarn

bonus cd:
1. kristallen den finda 2. ridom, ridom 3. liten vätte 4. värfindar riska

Falconer is one of those permanently underrated bands that make their fans wonder what more will it take to get them more noticed by the metal-or-otherwise musical communities. Their self-titled debut album was a surprisingly brilliant effort (especially considering the very different, more musically extreme past of composer/guitarist/leader Stefan Weinerhall in Mithotyn), and they have followed it with strong and consistent successors.

'Northwind' is the fifth album by these Swedes and nothing better to start off this little analysis of it than claiming straight away that this is their best album yet.

The most important boost is that it features once again the vocal talents of Mathias Blad, who left the band after the second album. Despite having been well replaced by Kristoffer Göbel on 'The Sceptre Of Deception' and 'Grime Vs. Grandeur', there really is no substitute for Mathias.
He is the final piece in the puzzle that sets Falconer apart within the power/classic metal world - his voice is not the traditional high pitch of the genre, he performs in a rich, full and beautiful low register which fits the compositions in a perfect manner. Falconer's particular brand of classic metal simply oozes class and avoids many of the pitfalls of the genre, getting close to the best quality hard rock sometimes, such is the melodic richness.

The songs are soberly played, almost understated in places, so everything sounds serious and meaningful. The folk elements are very well blended in and could in fact be more used, because they would add even more distinction to the songs, and they would be appropriate given the overall mood of the lyrics, which draw heavily on traditional themes. The guitar leads are another of the record's strong points, they soar, shred and enchant in equal measure as if they were the very wings of the animal that names the band.

'Northwind' is not, like many albums of the genre, immediate - it might sound a bit samey on first spins, but give it time and the subtle songs will unfurl and will reveal themselves as the true epics they are, and with splendid dynamics too, from the quiet melancholy of 'Long Gone By' to the charging 'Perjury And Sanctity'. Not that there's much filler, but a little less than 14 songs might have helped in the solidifying of the moods within the listener's mind. The patient will be rewarded, however.

Last but by no means least, make absolutely sure that you get the double-CD digipak version of 'Northwind'. The bonus CD consists of four traditional songs, in Swedish, and show a different and fascinating side to the band, finally using the folk elements to great effect. If you know the first record, imagine four worthy follow-ups to 'Per Turssons Döttrar I Vänge' from there.

Classy, consistent and passionately put together - this band should be playing stadiums.


the good: the return of the unique mathias blad, compositions that show the maturing of the band, great bonus cd with traditional songs
the bad: folk elements could be more explored, perhaps a tad too long

3 comments:

  1. Ahhh you beat me to it! I love Falconer and agree totally with you. I found Grime and Granduer a little hard to get into, but it grew on me. I just got all 3 Mithotyn albums to replace the downloaded versions I had and were missing songs. They are truly under-rated.

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  2. I have heard of them, but not heard them. I thought that they had a reputation of being decent though unspectacular.

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  3. Another band that I have to check out. The list is growing. It doesn't help them that they have a bad band name.

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