What do the guitarists of Viking/folk influenced black metal bands do when their band breaks up? Chances are they won't form a new power metal band. But that is exactly what former Mithotyn guitarist Stefan Weinerhall did. He took up bass guitar duties, recruited drummer, and former bandmate Karsten Larsson as well as Matthias Blad on vocals and Falconer
was born. In 2001, the group released their self-titled, debut album.
While Falconer is a power metal band, Stefan's participation in Mithotyn had some effect on the music he wrote on the debut album. Folklore influences can be found all over this release and are heavy in some of the songs, such as A Quest for the Crown
. These influences make for a medieval sounding bridge, chorus, or even verse. Vocalist Mathias Blade has a very fitting voice for the folk influenced sound of Falconer as his voice at times is also very medieval sounding. His deeper voice is at times very well executed, but at other times is very cringe worthy. The problem with Matthias' voice is it has nothing that makes it stick out. His vocal lines are not very memorable, and are not very impressive either. During his weaker moments, Blad's vocals either seem to blend into the music or just sound very bland. The vocals fit the band's sound, but do not make Falconer any better than it already is.
But luckily the guitar work makes up for the uninspired vocals. Guitarist Stefan Weinerhall is very talented, and makes use of his talent on the album. Falconer is full of all sorts of great leads, melodies, and riffs that any power metal album should contain. Many of the songs on Falconer prefer the melodic brand of metal over the heavier variety. Regardless of your musical taste, Stefan's skill with the guitar is sure to impress. When he isn't pumping out catchy, melodic leads, Stefan Weinerhall anchors the rhythm section of the songs, both on the guitar and on the bass. Karsten Larsson's thunderous drumming is also impressive, and is very energetic. Both Stefan and Karsten provide a solid base for the band's music, and both do a good job doing it. The rhythm played on Falconer isn't as flashy as the leads, but maintain a consistent pace. Overall, the remaining two members do a great job on Falconer, and show a great deal of potential at many times throughout the disk.
So the vocalist is disappointing, the melodic leads are impressive, and the rhythm is great. Right. So what makes Falconer a 3 rather than a 3.5 or 4? Simple. While the album contains a few superb songs such as Upon the Grave of Guilt
or Wings of Serenity
, the falconer has songs that are good, but not great. Many of the songs, Royal Galley
or The Past Still Lives On
for example, are good the first couple times you listen to them. But these contain no hook that'll make you want to go back and listen to them over and over again. Another aspect missing from this album's music is emotion. After the album's luster wears off, the songs feel forced. Unlike some of power metal's top artists, when listening to Falconer you don't feel like you're part of the song, or feeling what its artists intended you to feel. This makes the music feel quite bland and uninteresting, and several songs can pass by without you realizing. Luckily, only two songs approach the six minute mark in length, as a longer album would have been just too long. I haven't heard any other Falconer albums, but if they improved in these few (yet vital) areas, they have the skill to create an excellent power metal platter.
Overall, Falconer was a disappointing album from a band with such a cool name. First impressions of the band's debut album give us excellent, positive results, but after repeated listens Falconer's true colours show. Don't get me wrong, it's a good album, but there are better power metal albums out there.
Upon the Grave of Guilt
Wings of Serenity
Heresy in Disguise