REVIEW: FALCONER – “From A Dying Ember”
As I am writing this, Stefan Weinerhall just released a statement on Falconer’s Facebook page saying that the band will no longer exist after 20 years and 9 albums released, which struck me like lightning and left me rather bummed. As a fan since their beginning, it feels like losing a family member, of sorts, so forgive me in advance if this review for their new – and final – album, ‘From A Dying Ember’ gets somewhat personal.
In Stefan’s own words, they wanted to concentrate on having all Falconer elements present and really make sure that each element got full devotion. For example, the ballad to be as “ballady” as ever, the folk song sound as folky as possible…and that they did.
The album is less aggressive than ‘Black Moon Rising’ (2014) and follows a more ethereal, folky vibes like in ‘Northwind’ (2006) or ‘Armod’ (2011). Songs like “Redeem and Repent” and “Thrust the Dagger Deep” bring that mid-tempo trademark by the band and add some things of their own.
The riffs, while less powerful than normal and more melodic, completely fill the songs and provide that crunchy atmosphere we’re accustomed to. Speaking of which, the Swedish roots are also present in the folky “Bland Sump och Dy”, beautifully crafted and brilliantly performed by all, with special mention to Mathias Blad.
Blad’s soothing and silky voice is one of the best assets of Falconer’s sound, and once again the guy excels in every way possible here. Power metal is often just screams and falsettos, but his voice is truly unique and adds a lot of flavor to each note, complementing the common instrumental chaos that is metal. “Fool’s Crusade” is a great example of that, with Blad’s vocal range surfacing to make the song even more memorable.
Tracks like “Garnets and a Gilded Rose” and “In Regal Attire” combine power with medieval elements and are two of the best in the record as well. Both have strong energy and are still delicate to grab the attention of those seeking the theatrical approach.
My weak spot in all of this, however, is the masterpiece “Rejoice the Adorned”, which serves as the ballad for the album. The songs hold perhaps one of the best vocal performances of Falconer’s history, with Blad pouring his heart and soul to every key. Magical and grandiose, it feels like it was taken from a “Les Misérables” play or another great piece of art.
But, of course, Falconer is ultimately a power metal band. Justifying their place in the genre are opener “Kings and Queens” and the good “Desert Dream” and “Testify”, tracks that provide balance and a sense of warmth and familiarity. As it’s common too, the production is pristine, and legendary Andy LaRoque was in charge of mixing and mastering the album, working wonders as always.
At the end of the day, ‘From A Dying Ember’ plays exactly like Stefan desired to: presenting each element with mastery and respect to the fans, without leaving out the kick-a*s parts. It falls under the Falconer quality seal of approval, so you can expect some killer power/folk moments that will stay in your head for days. As for this being their swansong, it leaves a bittersweet feeling, at least, but that’s life. The Falconer may be dead, but his falcons with soar high in the sky forevermore. So, on behalf of every metalhead, thank you, Stefan, Mathias, Karsten, Jimmy, and Magnus; you will be dearly missed.