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Falconer – Armod: Review

Armod, which is the most recent album by Falconer, was released on June 3 through Metal Blade records. This is record is my first encounter with the band. I honestly was hoping for more than what was given due to the band’s reputation. Still, Armod is a good album and an enjoyable listen.

The Music (rating: B+)

  1. Svarta Änkan
  2. Dimmornas Drottning
  3. Griftefrid
  4. O, Tysta Ensamhet
  5. Rosornas Grav
  6. Grimborg
  7. Herr Peder och hans Syster
  8. Eklundapolskan
  9. Grimasch om morgonen
  10. Fru Silfver
  11. Gammal Fäbodpsalm

Most of what makes up power metal is found on Armod. Of course, there is a strong folk influence that carries throughout the album along with progressive subtleties. It also should be noted that this record is on the heavier side of power metal. There is no growling, but the guitar riffs are raw and heavy. The vocals, unlike much of power metal, are in the mid-lower range and of a cleaner tonality.

On paper, it seems like something unique and intriguing. But the truth is there are a handful of forgettable tracks on Armod. There is not a song that can grip and consistently hold a listener for its entirety; there always seem to be scattered voids. In “Svarta Änkan,” for example, it starts strong with an energetic and driving riff; a great way to kick off the album. But then the chorus kicks in with a rather bland, unfitting guitar part overlapping uncomfortably with a seemingly misplaced vocal line; it just does not mesh properly. And with that, down goes a potentially solid song. Basically, that is the whole album. There are many things that seem to work very well but the delivery is just off. Sometimes, there are parts lacking substance. They have good instrumentals and good vocals and such, but there is nothing better than good. It may sound too forced in that some riffs are simply not that unique but the band does everything they can to warrant keeping them there despite mediocrity. And in all honesty, the vocals are not too fantastic. The tone is nice and the phrasing is well done, but they do not give enough with how much space is provided to them. It seems to be a number of little things that add up to prevent this record from attaining greatness. Still, it is good.

There are many neat things done in Armod. Despite having such a genre-defined sound, it does branch out appropriately to a respectably wide range. Yes, it is all power folk metal. But the use of strings and flutes and organs diversify the musical feel throughout the record to an extent. And there are some viciously heavy pieces along with beautiful ballads. So in a way, this album offers a fair amount of material.

And although sparse, there are highlights throughout the record. And where there are not highlights, there is at minimum good music. But in such pieces as “Eklundapolskan,” the folk style simply sparkles. True, there are times where the folk inclusion adds only to the style. But with “Eklundapolskan,” it is extremely well presented and is a warranted centerpiece of the sound. And it happens again on “Fru Silfver” in the intro and outro. The folk-influenced string and flute duet work very nicely and the folk sound is retained throughout the song with the tiny breaks between heavy riffs in the verse. Such aspects in the album show the actual capability of the band, though it only sometimes comes out in the record.

Armod is a good release, but can be somewhat uninteresting at times. Everything is done well on paper, but it as though the band forced the formula onto the music. It seems to be missing much of the spark and spontaneity that great music should have. There are sections throughout the album that are merely missing something. But there are also those that are well-portrayed. It is a good album, but an imperfect one as well.

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