Blackguard - Firefight
Victory Records
Symphonic Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (43'36)
Release year: 2011
Victory Records
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the Year V2

Alright, leave it to me to do something as dumm as review an album that we already covered. I don't know why I was under the impression that we hadn't covered this band (My bad Kyle). But since it's 4AM and I've spent more than two hours wiritng, and I don't feel like editing my entire review to reflect the fact that it's no longer referring to another review and compares the two, I will post my own review of Profugus Mortis in the comment section, so it might make better sense when both the comment and this review is read. I'm just too tired to rewrite the review accordingly.

This is the album with which I discovered this incredibly talented Canadian Melodic Death Metal act ! Heading from Montréal, Blackguard swept me off my musical feet (so to speak) with this agressive, powerful and in your face blend of Melodeath. Some months ago I received a sms from my brother Danny who said : Blackguard, Hatebreeder's pulverized ! I agree that's quite a statement and while I don't share it fully (though I think I will listen to Firefight more than Hatebreeder, it is still a classic from which melodeath would never be the same if it didn't existed, so it stays and will forever stay in the pantheon of Melodic Death Metal for me, and I'm sure many others). But what that statement did have the fact to get me interested with the band (thanks bro !).

What an album my friends !After a small intro, Firefight blasts in your face with such ferocity, it's almost unrelenting pace will put your to your knees from the very beginning. What an ENTRANCE ! Relentless should be one, if not the best adjective to describe this Firefight ! There are more barky vocals than in the debut (mixed with more squeal type vocals), but there is also faster songs, more power and furiously fast and highly melodic guitar work. The guitars in some of the songs are simply amongst the best I've heard in most of the bands Blackguard reminds me of. This album is more symphonic, and the cheap keyboard arrangement of Profugus Mortis are replaced with impressive symphonic breaks that add to the epic factor of the band and it's what really dissociates them from Children of Bodom, which is the most present resemblance as I find Firefight is almost in direct competition with. The Norther influences are mostly on the vocals and also the fact that there are many Power Metal moments with death vocals. The production, in contrast with the debut, is amazing ! The sound is pure, powerful, and the songs are mixed to perfection as far as I'm concerned. The guitar, be it mind pounding riffs, fast solos, crying melodies, are some of my favorite guitar work, period. The speed of some parts of the songs like the closing of Farewell is impressive, you get the feeling you're being trampled to death by a horde of horses running at full throttle on a battlefield. If you like fast and melodic, this song will blow you away. But there is more... The vocals are deeper, more aggressive than on the debut album. But what is clear very quickly when listening to Firefight, is the incredible talent this band possesses. There are no sub par song on this album. It keeps throwing at you fast songs, crazy melodic riffs that never end, and each songs grabs you on its own, while staying perfectly focused from the first to the the last song, but still going crescendo, just when you thought the album couldn't get any better you get executed by an out of this world riff that will rearrange your neural network and blow your mind in a million pieces. Without the shadow of a doubt one of my favorite melodic death album that Firefight is (me Jedi can talk too). While it had a sound of it's own I can understand why my brother compared it to Hatebreeder, rarely did an album deliver such blast, with perfectly executed songs, brilliantly written, but mostly, with such relentlessness ! Another thing I love about this album are the great symphonic breaks, or even the very calm song Iblis in the middle of the album, that gives your brain 3 minutes of rest before it gets thrown into fast to furious songs until the end. It is so very hard to chose favorites on this album, but there is a song, near the end, that brings Blackguard to near melodeath perfection, this song is The Path. Which guitar intro / melodic riff could very well haunt your brainwaves until your last breath. This is a king of songs ! Songs we wish bands like Children of Bodom or Norther would have made if they had evolved staying near their roots (we know now that this hasn't happen for any of these bands and its unlikely it will in the future, thank god bands like BlackGuard reminds us others can play this way too !), with the magic and brio of these bands but with the Blackguard soul. A Blinding Light brings mid-tempo to the table, and it does it magnificently. While a good song, Sarissas, which ends the album, is maybe a tad inferior, at least in it's first third. Probably shouldn't have ended the album with the "simplest" song this album has to offer (I would have went on closing with The Path myself, making a statement the likes of Lost Horizon 2nd album closer, Highlander, to keep your thirst alive until the last second and begging for more (In the case of Lost Horizon we're far beyond the begging phase, we're more in the waiting for a "miracle that may never see the light" phase :(, but I digress).

Fans of Wintersun and Ensiferum will surely like this band as well (even thought there is not so much Folk compared to the debut). And if it wasn't for Euphoreon's debut this would be my no 1 album of the year, and it probably will be, as Euphoreon will surely get the first place in the Surprise of the Year list since it debuted this year. Like I said in my review of Profugus Mortis (read forum comment now :)), it's hard to chose which album I like most. There are some incredible moments in both albums, they are both very constant but they are quite different beasts. One is more folkish, and the other is a fastest and more aggressive delivery. I'm sure fans will be divided in choosing which of the album is the best one, as I am. I give a higher score (1 point) to Firefight because of how incredibly it starts and never forget to pleases almost all the way through. As a whole, Firefight is a more progressive delivery, while doubling on aggressively with a near perfect production and some strong Symphonic choirs and arrangement that makes this album more refined overall. Another killer album, and another album of the year (again, this award is for 2011 !). I simply CANNOT wait to listen to what Blackguard comes with next. I'm a bit wary since both albums sound so different from one another but if the bands continues to improve on guitars, vocals and continues producing their albums to this level, we are in for a treat ! Can't wait !

Killing Songs :
All but The Path, Firefight and Farewell are out of this world !
Chris quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Blackguard that we have reviewed:
Blackguard - Profugus Mortis reviewed by Kyle and quoted 85 / 100
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