The famed Swedish power metallers of FALCONER have decided, at long last, to call it quits. While fans may be sad to hear this, they’ve been able to rejoice at least one last time before the end, as the band opted not to go out with a whisper, but a bang, with a final release entitled “From a Dying Ember,” released on June 26th, 2020, via Metal Blade Records.
The album is a good blend of all of the blasts and rolls of traditional power metal mixed with the epic heroic feel of Viking metal. Even the cover art itself depicts a sort of Viking funeral, perhaps representative of the band’s final album. Opening with “Kings and Queens,” they immediately show off rolling drum blasts and heroic yet oddly soothing vocals. It’s catchy and melodic, if a bit over-produced. “Dessert Dreams” continues the trend with a speedy pace and a lot of energy, while “Redeem and Repent” sounds like a POWERWOLF song in name alone, as it’s hesitant pace and gentle tone create a more mellow, melodic feel to the third track.
“Bland Sump Och Dy” opens with very Renaissance-y vocals and is sung in Swedish, feeling a bit more like a song that old Nordic folks sing on Independence Day than a metal track, per se. Keeping the more mid-tempo vibe, “Fool’s Crusade” is a bit of a simple yet fun track that brings to mind happy Vikings singing around the fire after a few pints.
The Renaissance sounds return with the trouper-esque instruments that open “Garnets and a Gilded Rose.” Don’t be mistaken by it’s name though, there’s some decent heavy music blended in this instrumental track, eventually taking over with some rather decent melodic riffing, before returning to its old-timey feel before the end. In similar style, “In Regal Attire” keeps to the medieval styling of the last song while adding a bit of heroic singing in with consistently pushing guitars. “Rejoice the Adorned” is pure power metal ballad goodness (or awfulness, depending on your thoughts on ballads). The super-saccharine vocals are of course accompanied by a piano for the majority of the song. Personally, I found this song pretty hard to take seriously, with the vocals feeling a bit disconnected from the lyrics – I wasn’t feeling the passion or belief in what is being sung. The final octave jump does nothing to assuage the cheesiness of this track.
“Testify” has a reminiscent riff from the ballad but cranks it up a notch into a speedy power track with straightforward fast riffing and drums, making for a nice change of pace after the last track. “Thrust the Dagger Deep” brings up the drama as the album reaches its penultimate song, bringing back the horns from previous songs; sometimes these make a really good blend, but often they can be a bit grating as they’re not well blended with the rest of the music, sticking out a bit harshly. Points to this track for some gritty low riffing under organ soloing, which is easily my favorite part of the whole album.
“From a Dying Ember,” and FALCONER‘s tenure in power metal, thus end with “Rapture,” which starts on folky instrumentals before the band joins in. This very Viking power metal track is a good summary of what FALCONER have always felt like as a band: a de facto power metal band that has always steered into the skid with whatever cheese power metal throws out there and comes back with something pretty decent.
This is a definite to-hear album for fans of big, heroic power metal bands, though power metal skeptics may have mixed feelings. The album has very polished, Swedish-style production that metalheads tend to be divided on, and I for one thought it could’ve used a little grit here and there. However, the songs are quite solid throughout, perhaps not the best I’ve heard this year but nothing to turn one’s nose up at either. The album does have a certain final feel to it, particularly as it closes, and as the Viking ship burns, we must say farewell to one of Sweden’s most influential power metal bands from the early ’00s.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Kings and Queens
- Desert Dreams
- Redeem and Repent
- Bland Sump Och Dy
- Fool’s Crusade
- Garnets and a Gilded Rose
- In Regal Attire
- Rejoice the Adorned
- Thrust the Dagger Deep
- Mathias Blad – vocals
- Stefan Weinerhall – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
- Karsten Larsson – drums
- Jimmy Hedlund – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Magnus Linhardt – bass
Metal Blade Records