Black Moon Rising

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On their own, folk metal and power metal are both capable of creating sprawling musical adventures, but when you combine them as Falconer have, the result is something truly epic. A piece of pure, unadulterated heavy metal escapism, the Swedish band's eighth album, Black Moon Rising, immediately transports the listener to a more fantastic world. The medieval riffs of the album opener, "Locust Swarm," make it hard not to imagine standing atop a mountain clad in glistening armor with a sword in each hand. Although the power fantasy elements of the music are engaging all on their own, the real surprise with Falconer's music lies in its elegance. Despite its driving bombast, "At the Jester's Ball" feels stately and dignified, as if you've wandered into the middle of a courtly dance. This feeling of refinement comes from Falconer's folk metal leanings, which add an old-world flourish to their searing power metal, as well as a simplicity that keeps them from turning the album into an advanced lesson in music theory. With music like this, it's easy for a band to fall into a rabbit hole of its own virtuosity, pushing the musicianship to its extremes, only to lose sight of melody. While Black Moon Rising has its share of brilliant technicality, like the fiery solos in "Dawning of a Sombre Age" and "Age of Runes," by keeping things relatively restrained, Falconer are able to create dazzling compositions that ensorcell listeners without throwing too much at them, making for a fun record for those looking to add a little fantasy to their lives.

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