I can only imagine what the meetings between band and record label were like in regards to this latest Falconer album “Armod”.
   Band: “We are going to do a full length album embracing Swedish folk music with 100% Swedish lyrics.”
   Label: “Huh?”
   Band: “It’s only going to be a one time thing. Our true fans will understand.”
   Label: “How are we going to market this?”
   Band: “Trust us. We are coming from a deeper place and those who appreciate risk taking will love this.”

I admit a sense of trepidation as I took on this 11 song album. Being an ardent follower of this power metal band with strong folk influences, I wondered if my lack of Swedish language knowledge would interfere with my enjoyment of this seventh studio effort. I should have trusted guitarist Stefan Weinnerhall and vocalist Mathias Blad, as they’ve yet to steer my ears in any wrong direction to date.

“Armod” runs the gamut from medieval material full of female operatic parts, flutes, acoustic guitars, and cellos through to songs with heavier, almost black metal-ish riffing against stupendous blast beats – outside of the conventional power material we have come to know and love from Falconer. The five piece give their all with every song, squeezing out the best in cross collateral genre splicing to make everything smooth and seamless.

So many bands believe they have one of a kind singers, and then there’s Mathias Blad. Even as the Swedish language rolls off his tongue with accents and inflections I’ve never heard, his theater experience shines as he’s able to contort his range and emotions like the work of four or five different men. “Fru Silfver” being the most evident look into the depth of sadness, excitement, and control only he can deliver in these songs – while Jimmy Hedlund and Stefan roll through the power riffs and soloing. My other favorite “Griftefrid” opens with choir background vocals against a beautiful Karsten Larsson death metal blast beat before the guitars stair step with Mathias’ Middle Ages delivery.

There are so many times I closed my eyes and pictured the infamous cultural chants that are so commonplace in metal from audiences worldwide – but I found myself doing this in every song. Falconer have earned the right to change things up and do what they want. When the quality is this high, the language barrier dissolves. “Armod” is a testament to the power of metal as art – not merely as causal entertainment.

Bravo Falconer. Raise a pint and enjoy this landmark release.