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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Flaconer muscle up their folk metal blast with a battle metal edge

FALCONER -  they've always been a weird beast of a folk metal band, lurking somewhere on the edge of our consciousness, sometimes great, sometimes average: but with their latest release (out today!) Black Moon Rising can they convince us of consistency?

Vocalist Mathias Blad always sounds like he should have been a medieval minstrel who could be performing for earls and knights, but right from the off there is a feeling that his measured tones are being put to good use.

The wonderfully OTT power metal thrust of Locust Swarm just works. It shouldn't, but it does by sheer pig-headed insistence on doing it as Falconer want to do it.

For those not familiar with the Flaconer backstory, the Swedish guys have been knocking around since 1999, and after a brief hiatius in 2002 they have been churning out albums ranging from prog themed, heavy power metal and folk metal with entirely Swedish lyrics.

We've always seen them as a band to dip into rather that stack he shelves with their CDs, or clogging up the hard drive, with the possible exception of Grime vs Gradeur in 2005, an album that alienated many of their fans with its harder take on the Falconer sound.

Black Moon Rising manages to merge the elements that we love and what we hope will have fans gagging for the five-piece to return to the live circuit.

The folk-ish melodies are there in the vocals of Blad and the guitar attack of Weinerhall and Hedlund, while Lundhart (bass) and Larsson (drums) propel the pace to insane power metal/euro metal levels.

The title track 'Black Moon Rising' is the exemplar, with its romp through dark themes, made all the more pertinent by the slowed, harmonic ending of the previous power track 'Halls and Chambers'

However, right after that the folk intro of  'Scoundrel and Squire' gives way to a mid-paced tale, which merges the metal with visions of knights and "false chivalry".

Despite the fury of 'Wasteland' and the stomp of 'In Ruins' the theme of past days are present throughout, with the album closer 'The Priory' and Dawning of a Sombre Age' keeping the balance just about right.

We cam to review this album with a fair amount of skepticism after 2011's Swedish folk Armod. Black Moon Rising is more guitar focused than previous releases and seems to have captured an essence of what the bastard son of folk metal and battle metal would sound like as it screamed from the unholy womb.

Andy LaRocque's production has brought the edge to the sound that suits Falconer, without letting them drift too far from their vision and history.

Could this be a new dawn for Flaconer?  We hope so, because as daft and ludicrous it is to write the words 'folk metal' or 'battle metal', the musical experience is so much more than a genre, or mix of genres; its just simply good music.

Review by Jonny
Black Moon Rising is out today (June 10th) on Metal Blade Records

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