Falconer - Chapters From A Vale Forlorn
When a band starts out their career with a very promising debut you get very eager to hear what they come up with the next time. Swedish Falconer falls into that category and began their metal odyssey just like that 2001 and therefore the release of Chapters From a Vale Forlorn was a very welcome one for me. I'd also heard from other sources that Falconer had really done it again.
But unfortunately this is no improvement from their debut and unfortunately again it isn't even just as good. The vocals are just as great as before though and I think they've managed a better production this time too despite the fact that there's still room for more improvements regarding that. It's still a sound that comes a bit too much without nuances for my taste and although it's definitely got a very solid metal-feeling with dark heavy and groovy guitars I had hoped it had become at least a bit better since the last time.
I know that I wrote in my review about their previous album that I thought it could only get better from that point but I'm very sad to say that I was wrong in that case. But why is that so? Well, the production thing is not the main reason at all for that opinion of mine but instead there are other factors I'm referring to. First of all I don't think that Chapters from a World Forlorn has the same speed and intensity as it's predecessor and the somewhat Running Wild- influenced touches are totally absent on this one. This last comment is necessarily not a bad thing 'cause it means that the band has developed their own personal style but still the tracks that contained that touch were outstanding ones and this results in that he overall track material was way better on the debut.
The album begins in a very promising way though. Decadence of Dignity and Enter the Glade could easily have been on the debut and besides that also been two of the better tracks. The slower but way heavier mid-tempo Lament of a Minstrel with it's flutes and Medieval feeling is also a very great song and that one is followed by my personal favorite of the album- the 6-minute For Life and Liberty. But then the album kind of looses something. We Sold our Homesteads is a very catchy track where a Swedish "trad" arrangement folklore song goes "metal-hymnic" but then it gets very ordinary. And a band like Falconer can't really be just ordinary to really stand out. They need that little extra touch.
It's kind of hard for me to explain this opinion in words. Although there's a ballad among the final four tracks it's still not a "soft" feeling I'm referring to. The tracks are heavy and catchy but not as good as you could have wished for. It's more like as it isn't the finish one could expect from the great beginning and I'm sorry to inform that I don't think Chapters from a Vale Forlorn goes the entire distance. This album should have needed more tracks like the caliber of Royal Galley, Wings of Serenity or Mindtraveller and so on from their debut to at least reach the same heights as that one. Chapters also doesn't have the same great intros as the debut's got and this is necessarily not a bad thing 'cause this is compensated by nice riffing especially after the first chorus in some tracks- but still. And another thing- if you're an absolute die-hard fan of great solos, Falconer might not be your first choice 'cause the lack of those becomes very obvious after a while.
But hopefully this is just a temporary adversity 'cause Falconer's got great potential after all and I still think it's a great band. It's always hard to live up to high expectations though and especially after such a very great debut so it's understandable that not everyone can succeed with this. I'm just sad that it had to be one of my personal favorite Swedes that didn't quite make it all the way through this time.
So for you who haven't been introduced to this Swedish trio before I can strongly recommend you to get their debut from 2000 and take it from there. And recommendations to other metalheads out there who've heard Falconer before are to listen before you buy and pay extra attention to the final four tracks. A listening session to the five first ones means a must-buy and could be considered worth the money- but as a whole album in my opinion Hmm Well It's up to you in the end.