West End Metal

I think I'm a fan boy of Falconer. RoomThirteen dropped their last album, 'Northwind', through my door and I thought it was a joke. Cheesy power metal with a medieval twist was mixed with west end vocals. It all seemed over the top but since that review the band have grown on me quite considerably. Their back catalogue (including the two albums we don't like to mention) has found its way into my possession and their first album 'Falconer' has to be a bone fide metal classic. Even with the release of their sixth album I was quite surprised to find their new album 'Among Beggars And Thieves' sat in the rack in HMV Manchester. I just don't think they're that popular.

To Falconer's credit they've delivered just what the doctor ordered with this new disc. Vocalist Mathias Blad remains with the band to give them their signature sound and enhance the style of music they play. 'Field Of Sorrow' is a perfect way to start. It's not in the same league as Northwind but its solid enough. The melodic guitar work is prevalent, the fast double bass beats are most welcome and the gentle vocal lines compliment the fervour going on behind them. 'Man Of The Hour' is the first sing-a-long song complete with AH! Ahs! and penny whistle break-downs. The track is a triumph and typical Falconer that certainly wouldn't sound out of place on their early works.

'Among Beggars And Thieves' has a more conceptual feel than any of its predecessors. Whereas previous albums were a collection of medieval metal tunes, this release includes a short acoustic duet with Evelyn Jons (A Beggar Hero) and three songs in their native Swedish. It almost feels as though you're listening to the soundtrack of a metal opera rather than a heavy metal album. This is climaxed in the piano led eight-minute 'Dreams and Pyres'. Evelyn surfaces once more to give this tune an epic quality along side marching snare drums, orchestration and choirs.

Lead video is 'Carnival Of Disgust' (included on the disc) which suggests a frantic slab of metal but in reality it's another classy Falconer mid tempo romp and definitely one of the many highlights on offer. There's pace in 'Pale Light Of Silver Moon' and folkiness in 'Skula, Skorpa, Skalk', in other words there's everything you expect from a Falconer album plus a little more.

Falconer have delivered a good album. It's not their best but its very consistent if you like the 'Blad' albums. It is to 'Northwind' what 'Chapters From A Vale Forlorn' was to 'Falconer'. The production is tight and excellent. The musicianship it top notch and there's enough progression to get you excited for future projects. Job done…My Liege.