Sound — 7
Falconer have done an admirable job at regularly releasing new material for their dedicated fanbase; continuing the three year trend previously established between 2008's "Among Beggars and Thieves" and 2011's "Armond," the power metal veterans have prepared a new high octane conclave of aggressive chord progressions and commanding, operatic lead vocals on their eighth studio offering, the recently released "Black Moon Rising."
This new effort arrives following the experimental direction found throughout "Armond," which showed the members of Falconer trying their hand at folk metal while also redirecting the musical vessel's language settings to Swedish. Once again proving the notion that music isn't simply bound by geographical territories or foreign languages, it wasn't difficult for dedicated listeners to become lost in the progressive musicianship and familiar singing style of lead vocalist and keyboardist Mathias Blad, although some outside listeners admittedly found themselves lost amongst the transition.
The performance found throughout "Black Moon Rising," however, is readily cohesive enough to attract the attention of both longtime listeners and unestablished power metal followers. The album beginnings with the traditionally rocketing "Locust Swarm," which boasts a bold revisiting of the traditional Falconer combination of head banging drum kicks, pick grinding guitar riffs and soaring vocal melodies. The band wastes little time throughout the eleven song effort, quickly moving into the equally-nostalgic "Halls and Chambers" and anthemic title track.
A more dominant resuscitation of Falconer's folk metal style arrives on the next selection, the fittingly-titled "Scoundrel and the Squire." The selection marks the first occasion where the members of Falconer shift down towards a more digestible pace, while guitarists Stefan Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund are found nailing down a lead very much in vein of a classic folk lute arrangement. This change is pace is made up for during perhaps the most punishing track on the album, "Wasteland," which is vividly decorated with maniacal percussion work.
Such later songs as "At the Jester's Ball" implement some solid rhythm guitar playing which more appropriately suits the relaxed approach of Blad, as opposed to the album's more chaotic tracks, whereas "Age of Ruins" features some of the most impressive guitar work on the entire album, while boasting a neck spanning riff which could, upon first impression, be mistaken for a Tim "Ripper" Owens-era Judas Priest cut.
Lyrics — 7
Falconer lead vocalist Mathias Blad's performance throughout "Black Moon Rising" remains true to his previous efforts with the band, and generously executes his operatic style throughout the entire album. Blad rarely changes his approach during "Black Moon Rising," which proves to be both a beneficial and damaging aspect of the effort. When the instrumental side of Falconer tone down the tempo to accustom Blad's more relaxed style, the album shines; whereas on the more aggressive selections, Blad remains at the same aforementioned pace, which sometimes clashes with the rest of the composition.
Overall Impression — 7
In short, Falconer execute a more traditional approach on their eighth studio album, "Black Moon Rising." The effort demonstrates a return to the band's earlier sound predating their 2011 album "Armod," while retaining moderate elements of their latest transition. Dedicated fans will have little problem enjoying this latest offering, and there are several selections which should appeal to the general power metal public.