The Sceptre of Deception

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Power metal in any form can be a difficult pill to swallow, what with all the 1980s pomp, musicianly wanking, and J.R.R. Tolkien worship, and the genre's better bands set aside such clich├ęs for a heady dose of harsh reality and a lack of pompousness (see: Nevermore and, to a lesser extent, Iced Earth). So Falconer doesn't do much for the genre with The Sceptre of Deception, a concept album about Viking kings and dukes during the 13th century. And while groups like Manowar and Hammerfall approach such topics with tongues in cheek (we hope!), Falconer is ridiculously sincere about its overblown musical excursions -- all galloping Iron Maiden riffs 'n' rhythms, awkward lyrical endeavors, contrived "metal" vocals and inadvertently comical yo-ho-ho folk melodies (see the title track and "Under the Sword"). Only the perennially clueless (and fans of Yngwie Malmsteen) will find value in the annoyingly bloated pseudo-opera silliness such as "Pledge for Freedom" and "Night of Infamy," and the story, bolstered by stilted prose segments -- which betray some obvious English-as-a-second-language difficulties -- in the CD booklet, delves not into fantastical demons-and-sorcery rhetoric, but yawn-inducing cheeseball political drama. Falconer's endeavors may appeal to a very select niche of the metal-listening public, but an objective listen to The Sceptre of Deception will only result in eyeball-rolling and guffaws.

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