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TRACK LIST: 1. The Coronation 4:39 2. The Trail of Flames 5:24 3. Under the Sword 3:34 4. Night of Infamy 6:00 5. Hooves Over Northland 4:08 6. Pledge for Freedom 3:51 7. Ravenhair 5:03 8. The Sceptre of Deception 8:00 9. Hear Me Pray 4:21 10. Child of Innocence 0:58 All tracks: by Weinerhall, except 10: Johansson & Weinerhall. LINE-UP: Stefan Weinerhall - guitars Anders Johansson - guitars Peder Johansson - basses Karsten Larsson - drums Kristoffer Gobel - lead vocals With: Johannes Nyberg - keyboards Mathias Blad - vocals Nicklas Olsson - vocals Elina Ryd - backing vocals Elisa Ryd - backing vocals Produced by Falconer & A. La Rocque. Engineered by A. La Rocque at "Los Angered".
Prolusion. Co-produced and engineered by Andy La Rocque (of King Diamond fame, real name Anders Allhage), "The Sceptre of Deception" is the second album by Denmark's Falconer.
Synopsis. "The Sceptre of Deception" is a concept album, the basis of which lie in real historical events, which had taken place during the XIII and XIV centuries in Denmark and, partly, in the neighboring Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Norway. The central theme is full of intrigue and drama regarding the struggle for Denmark's throne. The album features several guest musicians, almost all of whom are singers presenting different characters in the story. So, yes, this is some sort of Rock Opera, though the first three songs: The Coronation, The Trail of Flames, and Under the Sword aren't notable for the variety of vocal and instrumental colors that are typical for this genre. As representatives of Techno Cathedral Metal, these are far from weak songs, but they are certainly less intricate and interesting than the others. The principal progressive and Rock Opera-related 'events' display themselves in all their glory on the subsequent seven songs (see track list above), all of which, without exception, represent a true, diverse and epic, Progressive Cathedral Metal with distinct elements of Symphonic Art-Rock, Rock Opera, and medieval music. The latter of these are evident not only in minstrel-like vocals and interplay between passages of classical guitar and woodwind-like solos of synthesizer, but also in heavy guitar riffs, which is especially amazing. The alternation of intensive and mild arrangements, frequent changes of musical direction, and rich, highly colorful vocal and choir parts are among the hallmarks of each of the best seven songs here. The influences of Black Sabbath, King Diamond, and Mercyful Fate are apparent in both the instrumental and vocal arrangements, but this factor does not prevent me enjoying the album, which is assuredly not only because those three are my all-time favorites among the heavy bands. It doesn't matter that not all of their albums are progressive, but then, some of those that are progressive are, IMHO, the best in the history of Prog-Metal. I am sorry if you don't share my opinion on the matter.
Conclusion. Like in the case of Symphorce's fourth effort, I rated "The Sceptre of Deception" as an excellent album, although it is better than "Twice Second", at least on the whole. Of course, the first three songs spoiled my overall impression of the material. In any case, this is one of the best albums released by Metal Blade last year - at least from a progressive standpoint.
VM: March 11, 2004
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