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7 tablatures for Falconer


Falconer - Northwind (9,5/10) - Sweden - 2006

Genre: Power Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Playing time: 54:50
Band homepage: Falconer

Tracklist:

  1. Northwind >mp3
  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
Falconer - Northwind

FALCONER is back! That could be the whole review right there, and fans of the band should immediately know what that means. Original vocalist, Mathias Blad’s return to the fold is exactly what FALCONER needed after two rather lackluster (not necessarily bad, though) releases with vocalist Kristoffer Göbel. Göbel was a pretty good vocalist, but let’s face it, Blad is almost untouchable in his abilities and uniqueness. Blad was, is and always will be the voice of FALCONER, and one listen to the band’s new masterpiece, “Northwind”, confirms this.

 

Everything that made FALCONER’s self-titled debut, and the follow up, “Chapters From A Vale Forlorn”, so magical, has returned in spades on “Northwind”. The folky melodies are all over the place, the lyrics have returned to a more medieval tilt (more on that later), and most all, Blad is back. His vocals are both as silky smooth and as powerful as ever, and his ability to take over a song is uncanny. Anyone that has yet to hear Blad’s voice is really missing out, as his is among the best and most unique in all of Metal, which is a pretty big deal in the Power Metal genre, where many vocalists are hard to discern from one another. The guitar interplay between Jimmy Hedlund and bandleader Stefan Weinerhall is equally as impressive, with outstanding leads and solos. The sturdy rhythm section of drummer Karsten Larsson and bass player Magnus Linhardt provides the backbone that ties everything together. Musicianship-wise, “Northwind” is nearly perfect.

 

But what is musicianship without songwriting? Luckily with “Northwind”, FALCONER has served up a batch of songs that has no weak moments. Every song on “Northwind” is strong in its own right. Some are more immediately accessible, especially sing-along numbers like the title track, “Spirit Of The Hawk”, “Catch The Shadows” and “Home Of The Knave”, but much of “Northwind” will take multiple listens to fully sink in. Once it has, however, every song is a hit.

 

Everything else about “Northwind” is also nearing perfection. The production is crisp and clear, really helping to bring out the nuances on Weinerhall’s folk-influenced songwriting. The artwork is also a return to form for FALCONER, much more along the lines of the first two albums.

 

As mentioned earlier, the lyrics on “Northwind” deserve a bit of a deeper look. Taken at face value, the lyrics all go back to the medieval style that FALCONER originally became known for. Not dragons and wizards style fantasy lyricism, but instead, lyrics of a more realistic (maybe historic?) variety. Again, on the surface, those are the types of lyrics you’ll find on “Northwind”. But read a little deeper into a few of the lyrics, and modern issue and political related commentary starts to jump out. “Perjury And Sanctity” seems to question the Catholic Church’s sinning nature covered up by a holy façade. “Delusion” calls out the unpopular War on Terror, and “Home Of The Knave” is surely a reference to the United States and its inept president. But chief composer, Weinerhall, is far too clever to speak outright on these subjects, and has hidden the commentary amongst the medieval styled prose.

 

With “Northwind” FALCONER has made every effort to return to the form of its first two releases. Many bands who have attempted such a move have fallen flat on their collective faces, but it’s with great joy that I can say that FALCONER have avoided such pitfalls and returned with possibly its best album yet. Anyone who gave up on FALCONER after the last two disappointing releases will do themselves a favor by giving “Northwind” a listen. Highly recommended.

 

(One more note: If you can get your hands on it, buy the limited edition 2 CD version of “Northwind”. The second disc features four Swedish folk songs, which are very well performed, and undoubtedly FALCONER’s forte. It’s worth the extra cash!)

(Online December 10, 2006)

Eric Vieth



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