Don’t look now, but there are exciting things happening in Austria these days. Long considered a forgotten backwater for traditional heavy metal, Austria has yielded some exciting young talent of late, as recent albums from Wildhunt, High Heeler and Liquid Steel will attest. Not coincidentally, all of those bands were featured on a 2015 compilation LP entitled Austrian Heavy Metal Alliance. Diamond Falcon was also on that compilation album. Back in 2012, the band was formed by two brothers, Steve Savage (guitars) and Vin Weazzel (vocals). Falcons Revenge is actually their second album. Although I’ve never heard the debut (2014’s Heavy Metal Combat), a copy of Falcons Revenge (housed in a high-quality fold-out digipak with a pro 12-page booklet) found its way to my desk a few weeks ago, so let’s give it a spin, shall we?
Upon listening to Falcons Revenge, I was immediately struck by the Iron Maiden influence, specifically the Number of the Beast to Powerslave stretch of albums but also some post-Brave New World sensibilities. The long, grim shadow of Eddie is cast over the Dickinson-style vocals, the shimmering twin-guitar melodies, the galloping rhythm section, and the propensity for epic, slightly ponderous arrangements (with three cuts exceeding the 6-minute mark and the longest, “Turning White to Red,” clears 8 minutes). Diamond Falcon do not shy away from this fact; to the contrary, their Facebook page lists Iron Maiden prominently among their influences, alongside bands like Tokyo Blade and Tygers of Pan Tang, with which I would agree. I would also add the names Cloven Hoof, Jaguar, and more recent bands like Enforcer and Striker as reasonable comparators. So it should be clear we’re dealing with an album steeped in classic British-style steel. Sub-five minute bangers like the exhilarating “Nightmares” and “Fire in the Night” are infectious, powerful, fist-in-the-air old-school metal songs with killer guitar riffs and melodies guaranteed to get stuck in your head. The crown jewel of the record is “The Tale of Izta,” an uptempo track with superb guitar and vocal melodies running through the verses that recall Maiden at their very best.
That said, Diamond Falcon’s inexperience does shine through in places. Sometimes, especially on the longer songs and the closing instrumental “Godzilla Overdrive,” I get the sense that they’re not quite sure where to go with the arrangements so they repeat the same parts too often, resulting in a few lulls. (Come to think of it, the same can be said of Maiden these days, so maybe that’s not a function of inexperience at all.) Vocalist Weazzel has a great set of pipes, but can’t quite control them at times, as he misses some notes and occasionally devolves into warbling shrieks. And the sound job (for which the band is largely responsible) is on the muddy side, sapping the music of some of its power and energy. Of course, the flip side is that at least this recording is an honest representation of Diamond Falcon, devoid of studio trickery. They proudly state in the liner notes, “No Auto Tune bullshit was used while recording, editing or mixing this album.” Good on ya, lads! I’d prefer an honest, imperfect album over a plastic, “perfect” one any day.
Trad metal junkies are encouraged to give Falcons Revenge a listen. While you’re at it, give the band’s Facebook page a “like” as well. Diamond Falcon have an off-the-wall sense of humor that resonates with my own, and it percolates up through their social media posts, resulting in much mirth for the reader. As Diamond Falcon themselves put it, “Trust your bum and ride the Falcon!”
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~