Grayson - Guitar/Vocals
Greg Lindstrom - Bass/Keyboards
Darin McCloskey - Drums
DIE WONTCHA CD Reviews
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|Time and distance are conspiring against
retro-rockers FALCON, and not just in the usual sense that they'd be on
a major label if the year was 1974. After the release of their
self-titled debut, mainman Perry Grayson (ex-ARTISAN, ex-DESTINY'S END,
ISEN TORR) wound up moving to Australia, leaving bassist Greg Lindstrom
(ex-CIRITH UNGOL) on the west coast of the United States and drummer
Darin McCloskey (PALE DIVINE) in the east. But these guys are nothing if
not hard-headed fighters, and FALCON plans to remain an active band
despite being scattered to the four winds.
And with the belated release of Die Wontcha (best title ever, a play on WEST, BRUCE & LAING's Why Dontcha), FALCON proves that the power of '70s-inspired riffing and true rock and roll won't be constrained by borders or oceans. Right off the bat, a few things become evident, mainly Grayson's love of and influence from classic THIN LIZZY licks. Lindstrom and McCloskey provide a loose, laconic groove to back the guitar shamble, giving the whole thing a very heavy-lidded, last-call kind of vibe. This goes well beyond the retro-pastiche of most stoner rock, and into some kind of ganjafied time warp where these guys really ARE recording in 1974, and somehow smuggling the analog results back here to wow a world full of ears harshed on digital sterility. It's a dank, dirty, bedenimed vibe, sparse and gritty, melodic and greasy with just enough fuzzed-out crunge to make it stick.
And it's Grayson's guitar that's the obvious star of the show here, his riffs ear-friendly and groovin', his solos liquid and emotional. The best moments on "Die Wontcha" are when the band can stretch out and just jam — see instrumental "The Wreck of the John Deere" or the several vocal-less parts toward the end of "Careless". For a band who don't get together often, they occasionally pull it off like they spend hours a day in the same room, feeding off each others' subliminal signals — a testament to the individual mojo of all three players.
Die Wontcha is not without its flaws and occasional rough patches, but these guys are clearly on to something, and their ferocious devotion to all things bell-bottomed and tube-amped puts them over the top on sheer heart alone. FALCON is a must for any self-respecting stoner rock or classic rock fan, the textbook definition of "born too late" and a model for anyone trying to follow their muse under adverse circumstances. Fans of early SABBATH and PENTAGRAM, you've got your marching orders.
-Keith Bergman, Blabbermouth.net
|FALCON – “Die Wontcha” CD ’08 (Liquid
The first thing I have to say here is that I love the title of this album. Is it a take-off on the West, Bruce & Laing opus of years gone by, “Why Dontcha?” I’m not sure but if it is, that rules. Either way, this disc rules and, brother, I mean it rules…HARD! For those who don’t know, FALCON is the power trio that includes ex-Destiny’s End guitarist Perry Grayson & ex-Cirith Ungol bassist Greg Lindstrom. Their first album revealed a side to both these guys that was very welcome to me. As good as their previous bands had been, “Falcon” showed a decided move back in time toward a ‘70’s hard rock vibe. Visions of names like Budgie, Cactus & Mountain danced in my head as I listened to that debut a couple years ago and now, the 2 along with drummer Darin McCloskey have seriously upped the ante with an album that I didn’t even realize these cats had in 'em. First off, you gotta check out the sound here. When Lindstrom’s bass & McCloskey’s drums lock into a groove, it is clear, dynamic and organic as friggin’ hell, so Grayson can lay that guitar tone right down on top. And let me tell you, Perry ol’ boy has a serious nasty tone going on with this disc. You want to talk about a Gibson into Marshalls? I don’t know what guitar he’s using on any particular song, as the insert pics show SG’s, Flying V’s and Les Pauls but you get the idea. That idea is the removal of the listener’s face. This is like KK Downing from 1976 or Mark Shelton from 1981! And man, what songs! From the opening riff-fest of “Jimmy Clark,” through the crushing instrumental of “The Wreck Of The John Deere” to the lengthy “Everything There Is To Know,” there are so many different kinds of riffs, speeds and interesting ideas here that I’m surely reminded of the classic records from no decade other than the marvelous early '70s. Still, with all of that, my favourite cuts have to be “Elfland’s Daughter” and “Falcon.” The former blew me away instantly, not only with it’s wide array of riffs & changes, but with it’s very clear nod to a band near & dear to my heart, Thin Lizzy. Between the one riff that reminds me so much of the Eric Bell trilogy (the first 3 TL albums) to the heart-searing harmonized leads, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard since Survivor’s “All Your Pretty Moves” platter in 1979. Then, there’s “Falcon,” once again, not only telling a story with it’s lyrics but with it’s ornate chapters of riffs and a semi-acoustic section, the melody of which almost brings tears to my eyes in “Before The Dawn” style. Through it all, Grayson’s vocals take on a killer Liebling-like tone, his wah-wah leads destroy and current blazed by Lindstrom & McCloskey continues to crush. An awesome thing that FALCON do here is something I used to love so much about bands like Budgie & early Sabbath and, similarly, something few if anybody (save Ogre) does anymore. That’s the practice of ending a particular rhythm in mid-song and immediately diving headlong into another…and, magically it flows! Think what the Sabs did in something like “Snowblind” or “Hand Of Doom,” for instance. That kind of wailing shit is all over the place here. Truly, this is an album for the ages and we haven’t even talked about the blistering cover of Buffalo’s “Leader.” Interestingly, that Australian connection leads me to mention that Perry Grayson has now relocated to Australia. What that means for the future of FALCON (as Greg Lindstrom lives in California) remains to be seen but for now, this band has lain down a gauntlet that I’m not sure who is going to be able to pick up. Freaking awesome. 9.5/10
-Ray Dorsey, Ray's Realm
|Falcon - Die Wontcha (2008)
It's been a long wait, both since the last
Falcon album and since this sophomore effort was recorded. And a wait
filled with anticipation and impatience it was, because the debut was
just a stone monster of 70's influenced hard rock and heavy metal.
Definitely one to show all the pretenders how it should be done. Has it
been worth the wait? Well let's press play and find out...
-Mike Ballue, Hellridemusic.com
The Falcon Lives On
Finally, the long-awaited second record
from FALCON has arrived! As a self-proclaimed sucker for the power-trio
set up, (especially one that embodies all that is 70s doom and gloom) I
have been waiting by the mailbox every day for about six months now. I
peed so much here by the side of the road that no grass will
grow...ever. Anyway, expectations for an accomplished power trio is
pretty high, especially if their heritage comes from bands like
DESTINY’S END, PALE DIVINE, and the mighty CIRITH UNGOL. Thankfully,
FALCON deliver again with another scorching slab of retro-doom, honed
from repeated listens to PENTAGRAM, DUST, LIZZY, and BUDGIE. Would it be
too over-the-top to claim Perry Grayson’s guitar reaches legendary
status on “Die Wontcha”? Well, I'm saying it. Teamed with Greg
Lindstrom’s bass and Darin McCloskey’s drums, let’s just say that when
you know it’s going to be a good drinking night when that first beer
goes down sooo smooth, and you say, “Yeah!” That’s the same feeling I
get hearing the first riff in “Jimmy Clark.” Riff after riff, the FALCON
never seems to release the grip on your brain.
-Tom Murtagh, Peacedogman.com
Falcon – Die Wontcha
Liquid Flames Records
As I am writing this, two years have passed since this album has been recorded. However, Falcon did not release Die Wontcha until several months ago and even now are not going to receive the exposure they deserve – mind you, I am not talking about currying favors with the many potential buyers of all the things currently perceived as "metal"; neither do I expect that the retro craze appreciates the band's second release more than the eponymous debut. Hypothetically though, Falcon could appeal to both audiences, only if some smart label marketed them as cool and authentic – which they are, only that these people won't know without getting it shoved down their throats by some tastemaker. Let us play that part, then.
Live in the backlash of hipper times
When music had much more to say
Not just faceless brutality
A vicious cycle revolves today
No trapdoors. No look beyond any horizon, and not over anybody's shoulder either. This bird perches in backwoods devoid of irony and would rather bite its tongue than put it into the cheek to betray its own cause. The reason for this lies in the respective backgrounds of the band members. Rock.
Trio rock, this is. Singer and guitarist Perry M. Grayson delivered some power metal greatness with Destiny's End before moving on to Artisan and Isen Torr, where he displayed a fond love of more classical forms of the genre. Darin McCloskey used to be the skinsman of Pale Divine and now teams up with no other than Greg Lindstrom, former bass player of Cirith Ungol, as the rhythm section of Falcon.
As the band's backbone, Lindstrom and McCloskey do not waste any time with frills and decorations, giving Grayson space to develop his equally heave-ho riffs and especially some delightful solos and leads. This is where one strong influence of Falcon becomes obvious: Thin Lizzy's signature guitar sound, which was both sweet and beefy, thus making for a nowadays rare kind of heaviness -- it is refreshing to hear riffs that are actually given a chance to unfold and in return allow bass and drums to be individually discernible... not that Falcon are in any way progressive, but as they do not indulge in redundant staccatos as the conversation-enders and no-brainers of modern metal, their four-on-the-floor beats will do...
...and this already in the energetic opening "Jimmy Clark". Why a band of this stripe writes a song about a race car driver (Primus may do that) I don't know; maybe it is because Clark died at the peak of the hippie movement in 1968. Anyhow, Grayson's eulogy sounds familiar immediately to those familiar with the debut. The mention of Tim Baker is almost inevitable with respect to the band's four stringer as well as Grayson's personal preferences, although the two voices are less comparable in stylistic terms than because of their crudeness. "Corporate Whore" shows the frontman as not particularly versatile in his angular approach, but if these melody lines are not catchy, then what is? Actually, the fluent shift between melodic and rhythmic passages is admirable and shows nothing of other bands' frequent ineptness to reconcile both without predictable interruptions. Instead, the breaks in this and the other songs pick up on the lost practice of changing between contrasting (thematically, rhythmically, etc.) motifs without losing the compositional red thread... cool as well how the track returns to its initial motif in the end.
Accordingly and apart from the occasional hint at an harmonic extension especially in "Elfland's Daughter", Lindstrom plays in unison with the guitar and locks in tightly with McCloskey, all the time keeping his characteristic plucky tone, which is not as prominent as on the classics of his old band. The song refers to a story of Lord Dunsany; the title says it: fantasy stuff in the old vein, and a love story, too. Cirith Ungol were similarly prone to myth, legend and the more imaginative spheres of storytelling, while Falcon also admit the Grand Funks and Blue Cheers from a better past as influential peers. This branch of hard rock (often tagged “obscure” maybe for the respective groups' lasting status as commercial also-rans) has often procured the kind of frank but brash lyrics that make for a certain embarrassment on the listener's side. Get an impression of it during "Corporate Whore", an accusation of former rebels turned conformists, featuring hilarious rhymes of “Hendrix” and “cocaine fix”. However, Grayson's at times clumsily simple truisms ring true in some ears. After all, finger-pointing to the moneyed usually works from the position of an alleged has-been. Personal hardships read well on the suffering artist's resume, so if you have not encountered any so far, you might dramatize a little – it is all for the sake of good music... did I mention that the bass and crispy guitar spots here make up for all that?
As an instrumental, "The Wreck of the John Deere" sidesteps any such issue and pads along bluesy paths in the lead guitar section, adding some keyboard strings for texture: a nice break or alternately the intro of the hypothetic b-side – which starts with a cover version of "Leader" the opener of Buffalo's 1972 album Dead Forever. The Australians' song passes as one of Falcon's own, being rhythmically simple and lyrically pushing the right buttons once more to blame all the world's wrongs on the movers and shakers. The midsection of the eighth song – named after the band – returns to pushing some synthesizer keys as well as emotional ones, being of a dreamy quality that allows the listeners to drift away for some time; he will be back spot on for the highly memorable "Everything There Is To Know" with a (fake?) Hammond more burning than Grayson's natural organ. The singer stays as distanced from his audience as his lyrics permit, being the straightforward display of basic feelings they are. This text is probably the best on the album, since it is open to at least a bit of individual interpretation.
Finally, we have "Show You All", apparently a 1970s tune by Lindstrom for which Cirith Ungol drummer Robert Garven drew the background image in the CD booklet. Where Cirith Ungol had Michael Whelan's art, Falcon grabbed an image by sci-fi/fantasy artist Virgil Finlay for the front cover of Die Wontcha. This rounds up how the band wants us to see them: Falcon carry the torch of the likes mentioned, not to forget Pentagram and Sabbath as the usual suspects. What makes this album so appealing though is of course not its novelty, but the fact that it is a cut above the lasting vintage buzz; Grayson may be in his mid thirties only, but he plays and thinks not like one born too late. The music will seem beyond criticism anyway if you like the references, as it does not force any strained novelty. However, only through Grayson's mouth, the messages turn into truths timelessly valid rather than pushing for mock authenticity and faux nostalgia.
To paraphrase what The Lamp Of Thoth recently sang, doom has nothing to do with laughing, but when I hear sullen reality depicted in such warm colors as on Die Wontcha, I can do with this and any other stereotype. I have been living with this album – this reality – now for some weeks, and I could not prove Falcon wrong so far; rather than belittling what is a dying breed of rock music, I admit it has grown on me.
I'm going through the motions of having a good time
I'm trying to like it, but something just ain't right
-Andreas Schiffmann, Lamentations of the Flame Princess