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Album Reviews : Blackguard – Profugus Mortis

By on April 26, 2009

Heavily influenced by Finntroll and Turisas, the debut album from Canada’s Blackguard has the potential to be as memorable and captivating as their folk metal brethren, but is unfortunately held back by one major problem. First, a quick snippet of history; in 2008 the band, then known as Profugus Mortis released an EP titled ‘Another Round’. Not long afterwards, a signing with Nuclear Blast took place and the band was forced to change their name due to possible copyright issues. Now, under their new name, the band has released their first full length, named after their previous moniker, featuring all six songs off the previous EP, and three newies.

Blackguard aren’t bringing anything particularly new to the table here, but have successfully moulded their influences into nine interesting, well-written songs. After a brief but grandeur opening, the pace picks up straight away and never really pulls back. The entire album is relatively fast paced and, apart from a few moments where the guitars jump forward, is largely keyboard-driven. If you aren’t a big fan of keyboards in metal, avoid this album like the plague. Ranging from upbeat Finntroll-esque charges, to the silly but fun tunes of Alestorm, to the larger-than-life epicness of Turisas, the keys are quite varied and tend to dominate most of the album. Mind you, it doesn’t drown out the other instruments completely. While the guitars often just follow along with the keys, every now and then a perfectly placed and well thought-out guitar solo will take the lead, and what moments they are. As for the bass and drums, well they aren’t anything special but they never stand out as lacking either.

Now, the vocals, here is where the album is really held back from sneaking into my regular-listening pile. I’m not sure exactly what they’re trying to be, but it leans towards a sort of deathcore/black metal combination. It has the harshness of black metal, but is essentially yelling. Not exactly my cup of tea, and the fact that it doesn’t vary (in style or melody, really) for the whole album means that it’s not easy to ignore. They’re also extremely high in the mix as well. Bugger.

Apart from the disappointing vocals, the only other complaint I really have is that there are a couple of moments where they keys tend to sound even cheaper and cheesier than normal. They drop below the fun level of cheese and hit the nasty, cringe worthy stage instead. It would also be nice to hear a few actual folk instruments in here, perhaps a violin or some flutes.

‘Profugus Mortis’ is an album that folk metal fans will probably get a bit of fun out of, but those who haven’t delved into those woods yet are still better off starting with the genre’s bigger names instead. Don’t be too surprised if the Blackguard name starts to appear a bit more often either. Signing with Nuclear Blast, and touring alongside folk giants Korpiklaani, Primordial and Moonsorrow on this year’s huge Paganfest tour means that things are looking mighty fine for this merry sextet. 7.3/10

For fans of: Finntroll, Turisas, Equilibrium, Turisas.

Band: Blackguard
Album: Profugus Mortis
Year: 2009
Genre: Folk Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: Canada
www.myspace.com/blackguard

Track listing:
1. Scarlet to Snow <- Reviewers choice
2. This Round’s On Me
3. Allegiance
4. I Demon
5. The Sword
6. In Time
7. Cinder
8. Vain
9. The Last We Wage

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.