Released By: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: June 26th, 2020
Genre: Power/Folk Metal
Mathias Blad – Vocals
Stefan Weinerhall – Guitars
Jimmy Hedlund – Guitars
Magnus Linhardt – Bass
Karsten Larsson – Drums
1. Kings and Queens
2. Desert Dreams
3. Redeem and Repent
4. Bland Sump och Dy
5. Fool’s Crusade
6. Garnets and a Gilded Rose
7. In Regal Attire
8. Rejoice the Adorned
10. Thrust the Dagger Deep
2020 has been the worst year in recent memory, a fact I’m sure pretty much everyone alive would agree with, at this point. It’s also a very bittersweet year for fans of Swedish power metal band Falconer, as the band is set to release their 9th and the final full-length album, From a Dying Ember. Yes, indeed, just weeks before releasing the album, the band announced that they were disbanding and that this would be their final release. I had already heard this album a few times before reading that statement, however, I would be lying if I said knowing this was the last new music I’d ever hear from Falconer, didn’t cause my review process for this to be more emotional than initially expected. As much as I’d like to judge this album 100% impartially, knowing this is the band’s swan song makes me more attached to it. Putting everything aside, though, I must say: This is every bit as good a final album as fans of the band could ask for, and is definitely up there with some of their all-time best work!
Longtime Falconer fans should know exactly what to expect, as From a Dying Ember very much feels like the band took an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, in that the album has a little bit of everything fans would expect from the band, all on one album. For new listeners, expect a nice mix of speedy, very melodic power metal with a slight edge to it, as well as lots of folk influence, both in the guitar work and from more traditional folk instrumentation, as well as some more epic mid, paced tracks, a nice instrumental and a fantastic ballad. While Armod showed how far the band could push their folk elements and Black Moon Rising toned things down a bit, instead of going for a harder hitting, at times thrashy approach, this album feels like the most classic Falconer sounding album the band has made since 2008’s Among Beggars and Thieves, feeling very much like a celebration of the band’s career.
As expected, performances are fantastic across the board, with duo guitarists Stefan Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund both shining with some great riffs, and very nice melodic leads and solos, while the folk elements are quite prominent compared to the band’s previous album, and the drums are excellent, as usual. Likewise, production is clear and very powerful sounding, as usual. And, of course, the most important aspect of the band’s music is the ever unique and talented Mathias Blad, who has a very low, yet very beautiful and super smooth sounding voice. He excels both at singing more powerfully during heavier sections and softer during ballads and calmer sections, though he’s at his best when he starts utilizing some of his classical singing skills, opening up with some fantastic higher notes and showing off his full range.
He always sounds excellent, but there are moments on this album where he is just phenomenal, and with this being the band’s last album, his voice is the one thing I’ll miss the most.
While everything else is fantastic, the most important part of an album is the songs, and thankfully that’s another area where From a Dying Ember delivers. Opening track “Kings and Queens” is fairly subdued, moving along at a slow pace, driven by some very beautiful, melodic guitar work and excellent vocal melodies, with the chorus especially being fairly low key, but still fantastic and sung perfectly by Blad, while the speedy instrumental section in the second half is quite exciting and the highlight of the track. Next is lead single “Desert Dreams”, a speedy, but very melodic track, which has a very classic Falconer sound to it. The verses move along at a nice pace, while the chorus goes full speed ahead and is very catchy and addictive, while the main riff is also quite memorable, and the solo section is very strong.
The heaviest track on the album is “Redeem and Repent”, another very classic sounding track, with traces of the band’s aggressive power/thrash sound, while still mixing in some very nice folk melodies and having a catchy, absolutely fantastic chorus, which is one of the highlights on the album. It’s an excellent track, overall, which nicely showcases both extremes of the band. Next is “Bland Sump och Dy”, a very nice, slower-paced Swedish sung track, with a ton of nice folk instrumentation, and lots of wonderful melodies. It’s a fairly soft track, with excellent vocal melodies, a very strong performance from Blad, and it’s a very relaxing track overall. Another relaxing track is “Fool’s Crusade”, a slightly heavier, though still fairly slow and laid backtrack, once again relying heavily on some nice folk instrumentation, strong melodies, and excellent vocals. It’s a very epic track, with nice use of repetitive, yet intense drums, and it’s one of the more epic tracks on the album, while also having a great guitar solo in the second half. This stretch of softer tracks continues with “Garnets and a Gilded Rose”, a brief but very nice instrumental track, once again emphasizing the folk instrumentation and melodies.
Following a string of softer tracks, the intensity picks up again with “In Regal Attire”, a heavy, fast-paced power/folk metal track, with a mix of heavy riffs, intense drums, powerful vocals, an excellent, super catchy chorus and more wonderful folk melodies, this time using the main melody that sure reminds me of “Star of the County Down”, even if it’s not an intentional effect. Either way, it’s an excellent track, and one of my favorites on the album. Slowing things down once again, “Rejoice the Adorned” is the lone ballad of the album, and it is a fantastic one! The track is entirely piano-driven, and while the melodies are beautiful, it’s the vocals and lyrics that shine. I’ve often thought of a good ballad as being a perfect opportunity for a great vocalist to show off their skill, and this track effectively feels like a Mathias Blad solo, with him getting to show off his range, using some very effective classical vocals, and hitting some pretty high notes, compared to his usual to mid to low register. He sounds fantastic, and near single-handedly makes the track an absolute masterpiece, and one of the better ballads I’ve heard in recent memory.
Moving to the end of the album, the last full speed track is “Testify”, and it’s another instant winner. The main melody has a very classic feel to it, and the verses are quite frantic and intense, while the chorus is very fun, melodic, and catchy. It’s a classic Falconer track through and through, and another highlight. The pace slows down again for “Thrust the Dagger Deep”, another folk-infused track, with some nice melodies, a strong chorus, and some pretty heavy riffs. It’s not one of my favorites on the album, but it’s still an excellent track the whole way through. Closing out the album is “Rapture”, the longest track on the album, clocking in at around 6 and a half minutes. It has a very epic feel to it, and has some nice melodic guitar work throughout, as well as some very nice folk melodies. The track moves along at a fairly slow pace for most of its duration, but it does pick in the middle, with a very drum sequence, and the track gets a bit heavier and more epic from that point onward. It’s another excellent track, and it closes out the album nicely.
I’ll never look forward to that moment where I know I’m listening to the last album a band will ever make, and so reviewing such an album is quite challenging. However, if a band is going to call it quits, it’s best that it happens on rather peaceful terms, and that it’s announced before the release, which is exactly what has happened with From a Dying Ember. Most importantly, though: It’s always better for a band to go out, knowing they were still putting out the best music they could, rather than reaching the point where they burn out and start declining in quality. In that regard, I’m happy to say Falconer has produced their best album since at least Among Beggars and Thieves, possibly even topping that one. While I still think their self-titled debut and Northwind will always remain my personal favorites, this album is certainly a strong way for the band to go out and is sure to please longtime fans of the band. As for new listeners: I’d say this album is as good a place to start as any, and if you do enjoy this album, feel free to seek out anything else in the band’s discography aside from maybe the Sceptre of Deception and Grime vs. Grandeur, and as those are the only somewhat disappointing releases the band has made, and everything else is excellent, with From a Dying Ember certainly being no exception. And with that, it’s time to bid farewell to Falconer, and wish all their members good luck in the future!
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.