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Blackguard - "Firefight" (CD)

Blackguard - "Firefight" CD cover image

"Firefight" track listing:

1. Tephra
2. Firefight
3. Farewell
4. Wastelands
5. Cruel Hands
6. Iblis
7. The Fear Of All Flesh
8. A Blinding Light
9. The Path
10. Sarissas

Reviewed by on April 13, 2011

"Other than the few highlights, 'Firefight' is pretty disappointing, with a large number of the tracks flying by without a huge number of hooks. "

Having spent a huge amount of time over the last couple of years on the road with an impressive number of varied metal bands, with mixed reactions from crowds to say the least, Montreal’s Blackguard has truly cut their teeth and won over potential fans one at a time. Having started its tenure under the disguise of Profugus Mortis some ten years ago, the self dubbed ‘epic metal’ five piece have released their second record since changing their name to Blackguard, “Firefight.”

Much like when Children of Bodom started out, Blackguard seems to be caught between two worlds; as the band is too heavy for a lot of power metal fans, while also having too much of a power metal influence for the heavier fans – hence why the group has received varied responses on tours with Deicide, Kamelot and Nevermore. Of course, when there is a mash up of two styles, things can go two ways; either with the rejection of the band by both fan bases or winning over of fans on either side of the genre. A good example of this is A Day To Remember being popular with plaudits of pop-punk and metalcore.

To be honest though, Blackguard’s main sound is melodic death metal, with the band leaning much further towards the aforementioned Children of Bodom and The Absence than the power and folk metal acts that they are so often lumped in with. A majority of “Firefight” features a huge amount of punishing guitar work, with the recent departure of keyboardist Jonathan Lefrancois-Leduc seemingly making the band’s sound more aggressive and heavy. Frontman Paul Zinay’s vocals certainly have more than a small hint of Alexi Laiho in them, and while there is still plenty of orchestral work on the record, it always adds to the songs – rather than smother the life out of them.

While tracks like “Farewell,” “The Path” and the blitzkrieg title track are all obvious highlights, the rest of “Firefight” is pretty disappointing, with a large number of the tracks near the back end flying by without a huge number of hooks. Admittedly, it’s an album that you’ll really need to sit down and give your full attention for it to set in, but the best melodic death metal and power metal acts are great for their instantly memorable tunes – something that Blackguard only has a handful of.

Fans of Blackguard will certainly not be disappointed, but for those uninitiated with the group, it might be best to either approach with caution or stick with your Children of Bodom and Ensiferum albums instead.

Highs: The album highlights are the straight-up, cracking metal tunes.

Lows: "Firefight" is just a frustratingly inconsistent record.

Bottom line: Fans of Blackguard will love this record, while others might want to approach with trepidation.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)