At first, the pairing of Canadian melodic/symphonic death act Blackguard with metalcore, deathcore, & emo label Victory Records seemed rather odd, but after digging into Firefight a few times, I can see it all making sense. For one, why wouldn't Blackguard want a label like Victory behind them? Their latest CD takes their form of high energy, symphonic neo-classical death/black/folk metal to levels that will remind many of the early works of Children of Bodom, and given Bodom's rise to semi-stardrom in the extreme metal world over the last decade, it's no surprise that the band & Victory will want to duplicate that success with Firefight.
Judged on its own merits, Firefight is a pretty fine album. Though it's somewhat of a relentless speedfest throughout, complete with manic rhythms, tons of keyboards, growling vocals, and tasty riffs & dazzling solos, when they do slow things down a tad, like on "Wastelands" and "A Blinding Light", the results are quite powerful and majestic, as well as heavy. The rest of the album is filled with blazing death/black metal tracks littered with impressive keyboards and guitar artistry that seem to fuse bands such as Children of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, Ensiferum, and Rhapsody of Fire, so you get a little prog & power metal with the extreme side of the band, and even some folk elements. The guitar work is spot on during each and every song, so if you don't mind the relentless speed of "Firefight", "Farewell", and "The Fear of All Flesh", then there's a lot of six string artistry to dig your teeth into.
Time will tell if Victory can really get behind Blackguard and take them to the next level, but we already know there's a lot of talent in this band, and Firefight is a really solid release that will no doubt gain them plenty of new fans.
- Cruel Hands
- The Fear of All Flesh
- A Blinding Light
- The Path