Happy early July, everyone. A month of celebration, masked revolution, and unpredictability. It also marks a week past from the June 26th release of the final Falconer album From A Dying Ember. The Swedish folk metal band laid it all on the line for the end of their 20-year epic career.
The best part of this album is its salute to the smorgasbord of what metal offers. Falconer brings a voyage of troubadour folk, majestic power metal, crushing death metal in songs like “Thrust The Dagger Deep”, and valiant prog Jethro Tull would bow for.
Andy Larocque of King Diamond laid out the production value and it glistens throughout. From A Dying Ember is a cornucopia of Swedish gold. The songwriting is supremely crafted and elegantly ordered. Mathias Blad is a vocalist with a clear gamble. His singing style isn’t necessarily an obvious fit. He could have walked out of the studio and into the Hamilton premiere on Disney Plus. It’s the James Labrie method. Have theatrical vocals plastered over relentless instrumentation and see what happens. It’s a strong dynamic that is high-risk, high-reward. In this album, the treasure hunt pays off.
It feels like you’re questing for the Holy Grail. That or you are Ponce de Leon listening to the ASMR of a metallic Fountain of Youth. What is fresh about From A Dying Ember demonstrates the lengths bands will go to keep a narrative profound. The entire album winds through the staccato chasms of “Kings and Queens” and “Desert Dreams”, through the typhoonic song “Redeem and Repeat” and the siren song of “Bland Sump Och Dy.”
“Fool’s Crusade” is a low-key masterpiece of the folk fighters from Sweden. The turn-on-a-dime tempo and ambience change, the rumbling resolutions of the chorus into the next verse, and the cascading lead-rhythm invasion of Stefan Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund all whirlpool into an odyssey of summit-mounting proportions.
As a palette cleanser, the ghosts of Mjolby offer an intermission in the form of “Garnets and a Gilded Rose”.
Other treasures heard on the album include the entertaining key change in “In Regal Attire” and a ballad “Rejoice the Anointed” that would have better served as the final song. Many glasses of mead would be raised to the last battle of Falconer.
An absolute underdog in metal and an incredible farewell by the mighty Falconer. The journey lies ahead. From a Dying Ember is available for streaming, digital download, and special turquoise vinyl, courtesy of Metal Blade Records.