When Falconer first rose from the ashes of the Viking/Black Metal noisemakers Mithotyn in 1999, the aim of its founding guitarist Stefan Weinerhall was to create an outfit whose musical output would be characterised by intricate Power/Folk Metal tunes with medieval music overtones.
Various line-up changes over the years have certainly influenced and informed the band’s musical direction but the return of the band’s original front man Mathias Blad in 2005 certainly entertained the idea of revisiting the successful musical formulae of old.
So, does Falconer’s studio album number eight entitled “Black Moon Rising” continue to tread a path similar to its Folk-influenced predecessor “Armod”, an album that was released a good three years ago and which received an overwhelmingly positive reaction?
Even though “Black Moon Rising” is a pretty decent release, the answer to the above question is a resounding ‘no’. You see, with the exception of one or two compositions that do feature traces of Folk themes, the majority of the material on offer is a pretty straight forward, riff-focused, Heavy/Power Metal affair.
These compositions, though relatively pleasing to the ear, have little to do with the band’s trademark style and sound and that is, in a nutshell, the main problem here.
Furthermore, the fact that Blad’s vocals, which are instrumental in presenting the listener with the main melodic themes on offer, are fairly high on the mix and sometimes fail to properly relate and complement the ideas presented by the guitar duo of Stefan Weinerhall/Jimmy Hedlung, leaving, in the process, the listener somewhat confused as per the band’s artistic goals and intentions.
The introduction to this eleven track release comes in the shape of “Locust Swarm” – a classic Metal riff-driven piece whose anthemic refrain stands out as one of the most inspiring moments of the album.
Flamboyant leads and fast-pace riffs also characterise the somewhat more predictable follow up “Halls And Chambers” while the same-titled “Black Moon Rising” shows the first signs of miscommunication between Blad and the band’s guitar duet.
Though the medieval-themed melodies of “Scoundrel And Squire” have added some flavour into the album, their effects are momentary as songs like “Wasteland” and the Euro-Power influenced “In Ruins” are pretty predictable affairs.
The second half of the album could not have started in a less promising way as both “At The Jester’s Ball” and “There’s A Crow On The Barrow” lack substance and purpose leaving the Hard Rock tune “Dawning Of A Sombre Age” and the Judas-Priest influenced “Age Of Runes” to fight the album’s corner.
Closing with a catchy Folk Metal tunes such as “The Priory” may be what the fans of the band would have expected and wanted but it is really a case of a bit too little too late.
“Black Moon Rising” is not what one would confidently describe as a bad album. The main problem with Falconer’s eighth studio release is that it is fairly predictable and, for a band as unique sounding as these guys were at the beginning of their career, this position they currently find themselves into is far than complementary.
If you decide to invest in this album, and I am not suggesting for a moment that you should not, do so being fully aware that at certain times you will find yourself feeling confused, bewildered and, sadly also, fairly bored indeed.