Review Summary: A decent power metal album marred by repetitive riffs and uninspired choruses.
Known for their blend of folk and power metal, Falconer had drawn both praise and ire rather quickly from people. Whichever side of that camp you're on, there's no denying that the band's chorus-heavy and singalong-worthy brand of cheesy power metal wasn't going to appeal to everybody. Grime Vs. Grandeur, unfortunately, marks the path where Falconer got lost and subsequently lost the attention of many loyal fans, creating a record that's generally bland and forgettable.
Grime Vs. Grandeur is essentially what would happen if pop-metal/"light metal" (a la Bon Jovi), 80's speed metal, and modern power metal were thrown into a mixing pot and deprived of the likability of any of those genres. What we get are 10 moderate-length tracks, with the first side being pretty awful and the second side picking up the pace substantially (but not enough to really save the album, of course).
As was said, the first half is generally terrible. Apart from half of "Purgatory Time" and a few glints from "Humanity Overdose," the rest of the half suffers from being overly generic and contains some of the worst choruses in recent memory. For instance, the opening track, "Emotional Skies," begins promisingly enough with a fast standard-E-tuned chug that could fit with some above-average thrash tracks. Unfortunately, it delves into mediocrity rather quickly, and a female voice singing part of the chorus/midsection is clearly not enough to salvage the song as a whole. Similarly, the nice orchestral opening to "I Refuse" isn't the best way to carry a song that clearly loses its way after the first verse, with annoying vocal work and dime-a-dozen riffs and drum fills.
The second half, on the other hand, shows more promise and even somewhat salvages what the first half damaged for the record. "Power" and "No Tears for Strangers" are the big highlights here. The former is one of the longest pieces and has a slow guitar chug to it, but doesn't overstay its welcome, as the choruses are more restrained and limited (as well as not being nearly as cheesy) and the overall vision is cohesive yet varied. "No Tears for Strangers" is a faster, more harmonized piece with a chorus that is especially strong, mixing dramatic vocal work with mid-tempo drum/guitar breaks that offset said vocal melodies.
However, even with the good moments, the album has a whole suffers from its generic and lifeless nature. It's clear why people disliked the record so much, considering it was a nasty departure from Falconer's usual brand of folk-inspired power metal. To conclude, approach this one with caution. If you're in the mood for some cheesy power metal with a melodic feel, this will fit the bill. Otherwise, there's very little to recommend about it; it's just average and nothing more.