Archive for Blackguard

Kamelot w/Support @ The HMV Forum, London

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Kamelot, Xandria, Triosphere, Blackguard
HMV Forum, London
7th November

Usually when I go to gigs, the doors will open at 7pm and the first band will be on around 8pm – but not this gig. I walked in at 7:40pm after having been held up by the awful traffic through London (no surprise there, really), and I was shocked to find that I had actually missed Blackguard. Now, I’m not sure whose idea it was to put the first band on as soon as the doors opened, but it certainly was not a good one. I had heard good things about Blackguard, so I was actually looking forwards to seeing them. It would appear that I was not the only one to have missed the first band entirely as when asking members of the audience what they thought of them, most people said “I was in the pub”. However, the very few people who were lucky enough to have seen Blackguard said they were brilliant.

The second band on the bill was Triosphere, and it would appear that not too many people were bothered about them. The HMV Forum usually holds between 2,000 and 3,000 people. Tonight, there were maybe 200 people (and that isn’t a typo!). Never before in my life have I walked into a gig forty minutes after the doors opened and gone straight to the front row. I can promise you I am not exaggerating. Triosphere played well, but the emptiness of the room affected the sound drastically, causing too much reverb off of the walls. It sounded like we were in a cave. The crowd reaction wasn’t brilliant either, but that wasn’t the band’s fault as it’s hard to interact with an audience that’s barely there.

Next up was Xandria, who can only really be describes as diet-Nightwish. There were a few more people in the crowd by this point, but that didn’t mean the band played well. There was no definition in the guitar sound, which was incredibly disappointing. I would like to have blamed that on the emptiness of the room, but the previous band’s guitars had sounded superb, and there were less people then. The vocals were lacking too – some parts sounded like they were on a backing track and other parts were slightly out of key. Now, don’t get me wrong, I thought they tried very very hard, but they just weren’t that great. The crowd did, however, react fairly well to them.

The room filled up a little more whilst the stage crew put away the small drum kit, revealing Kamelot’s rather expansive kit. By this point, the venue was maybe a quarter full. Due to the lack of hot bodies jumping around, it was rather chilly in the venue and I was struggling to keep warm. I definitely think Kamelot were being just a little ambitious when booking such a large venue; had they been at the O2 Academy in Islington, it would have been practically sold out. Eventually, Kamelot came onto the stage, one member at a time. They opened with Rule The World, which would have been okay had the sound actually been decent. The show of lights was wonderful, but that really isn’t the point of a gig, is it? A few songs in, the sound improved and the crowd (small as they were) were making a lot of noise and singing along. Despite the blinding halogen lights flashing in their faces every millisecond, they seemed to be enjoying it. Seven songs in, they slowed it right down with a ballad off of their newest album, which really sounded like it should be in a Disney movie. Song For Jolee was hardly bearable, and to make it even worse, Tommy Karevik said (and I quote directly) “Let me see your lighters. I want to see all the screens from your mobile phones!”. Really? REALLY? After this catastrophe came the drum solo. Now, I do like watching a talented drummer show off his skills, but this was just taking the piss. This drum solo was more of a “watch how fast I can play my kick drums” than anything else, and to top it all off, Casey Grillo finished by bashing his cymbals with his fists. I was half hoping one of the cymbals would split and cut his hand open, as that would have been far more entertaining than what he was actually playing. The next few songs were okay, not to my personal taste, but the crowd enjoyed it. The penultimate ‘song’ was in fact a keyboard solo. This baffled me slightly as it really did not fit the mood. They finished with Forever, which was played well, and at the end the band just walked off. Chants of “KAMELOT” coaxed the band back on stage for their encore, which included a bass solo. This truly was a gig of firsts for me, because I have never seen anyone include a bass solo in a set, never mind an encore, and I had never seen anyone try to play a bass as if they were soloing on a guitar. The final song of the night was March of Mephisto, with a guest singer. I am still not sure who he was, but he seemed to add loads of energy to the band for their final song.

I had gone into this gig with a completely open mind, with no prejudice or bias towards any of the bands, but I was highly disappointed. The venue was too big for how many tickets had been sold, the sound was awful and the lights were, frankly, too bright. The last time I was at the HMV Forum, I was there to see Cannibal Corpse and Triptykon, and I could barely move.


Sophiey Cherry

Epica w/Support @ The Palladium, Worcester

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 8th November 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

Epica, Alestorm, Insomnium, System Divide, and Blackguard
The Palladium, Worcester, Massachusetts
27th October

It was a cold night when I arrived at The Palladium for the Epica North American Tour 2012, but it became incredibly warmer once I was confronted by the hundreds of metal fans of all kinds (power metal fans, death metal fans, and even fans who dressed up as pirates) waiting eagerly along the side of the building to get inside. It was a bit more packed than it should have been because in a different part of the venue, Taproot and Nonpoint were playing a show as well. How random, right?

Before I even got into the show, I did an interview with Blackguard front man Paul Ablaze. I then made my way inside to stand in front of the barricade to take pictures. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever use a photo press pass at a show again just because it felt like I was detached from the show and not so much a part of it, and not to mention I kept getting heckled by the security who thought I was a total pain in the ass. Although it was a nice change from being crushed by topless, sweaty dudes who reek of eggs and despair.

Anyway, the show starts off with Blackguard, which I was relieved to see because The Palladium usually likes to add on local acts to bigger shows, and sometimes those bands are unbearable.  They only played for a half hour, which consisted of only newer songs. They even played a new track, In Dreams, which will be on their next album.  For some reason, I felt like this was not Blackguard’s best set. I’ve seen them many times in the past few years, and I suppose what was missing was that folky element that their older songs have. Not to say that their newer stuff is bad, but they were definitely lacking that fun and energetic aspect that they usually portray in their live shows. Their energy was still very high and the songs made the crowd break out into a sea of windmills, but it just felt different to me this time.

Following Blackguard was System Divide. I was familiar with the band after listening to their EP a few years ago, and their set was actually better than I had anticipated it to be.  I also forgot that Sven De Caluwe, vocalist of Aborted, does vocals for System Divide as well!  Paired along with Miri Milman, who is the female vocalist in the group, the band definitely had a unique set mixed with heavy but melodic guitar and a mix of clean and growl vocals. It’s always interesting to me when there are two vocalists in a band because from what I’ve seen, one vocalist is usually predominate over the other which makes the other vocalist completely unnecessary. However, both vocalists meshed very well together and the mixed styles had some people in the crowd booing, but their stage presence and high energy was a winner to me.

I was most looking forward to Insomnium’s set not only because I have never seen them live before, but they’re also one of my favorite melodic metal bands of all time. That same powerful feeling I experienced from listening to the albums was also portrayed in their live show. Starting their set with the song Inertia, their beautiful riffs paired with their low and enticing vocals created a serene but dark atmosphere that was just absolutely captivating. They also played Down With the Sun which is off my favorite album from them, Across the Dark, but most of their set was relatively newer songs. They had a slower set, but I believe they played the best out of everyone that night. It’s hard to keep a crowd’s attention when playing songs that are not as upbeat, but Insomnium did an excellent job at setting a more somber mood without losing the focus of the audience.

Last time I saw Alestorm, I did not really get to enjoy their set due to the amount of crazy, drunken pirate fans that literally kept throwing themselves on top of me trying to climb their way onto the stage. However, after being able to watch them, Alestorm’s set was so upbeat that there were people in the pits who were literally dancing and skipping around! They played a bunch of fan favorites such as Keelhauld, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, and Leviathan, and the crowd couldn’t help but break out singing very loudly and drunkly to Nancy the Tavern Wench. The keyboards and keytar mixed with talk about squids and other pirate banter made the crowd pumped and ready for Epica’s set.

Having seen Epica once before, I was anticipating a highly awesome performance. However, I only managed to watch the first three songs before I had to head out from the show. From those three songs alone, which were Monopoly on Truth, Sensorium, and Unleashed, it was hard to not become enthralled by the seemingly beautiful vocals of Simone Simmons paired with the melodic and charismatic riffs of the guitars and keyboards. The flashing of the lights in the background and the positive energy from the audience only added to the, dare I say, epic feeling that Epica was giving off. I later found out that Epica did a few encore songs: Cry for the Moon, Blank Infinity, and Consign to Oblivion, and these concluded another spectacular performance from this band.

Having to wake up early and basically bust my butt to make it to this show was entirely worth it. Hopefully Epica comes back really soon so I can fully appreciate and enjoy them like I did the first time around, and hopefully the other bands come and tour around American again really soon!

Lauren Gowdy

Interview: Paul Ablaze [Blackguard]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

After gaining popularity in not only their homeland of Canada but in America as well, Canadian power metal band Blackguard have been the supporting acts of many tours and never cease to blow away their fans with their live performances and epic albums. I got the chance to interview front man Paul Ablaze where he discusses touring life, Blackguard’s progression in their music, and the possibility of a headlining tour.

Blackguard is currently doing a European tour with Kamelot, Xandria, and Triosphere, and will be working on a new album sometime next year.


Blackguard work on pre-production for album and announce North American tour dates!

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 15th August 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Blackguard is hard at work on pre-production for their fourth album, Storm. Vocalist Paul Zinay has the following to say:


“Hey everyone!


We are currently hard at work and pre-production is coming along very nice. Everyone here is ecstatic over the material we have. Our new guitarist Louis is a riff machine and working his ass off to help make this the best Blackguard album to date. The writing process this time around is unlike anything we’ve done before.  In the past, one or two people would make up the vast majority of material for the album. This time, however, everyone is contributing ideas and music and the results are beyond my expectations.


We will be heading into studio in September to start tracking and we’re hoping to have the record out in early 2013. Lyrically, I’m taking a step into new territory by trying my hand at writing a concept album. This won’t be as intricate or vast as “The Emerald Sword saga” or “The Metal Opera”, but this will be an exciting and new challenge for me nonetheless.


That’s it for now. We’ll try to update everyone as often as possible. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for some exciting tour news that will be announced in the coming weeks.




Blackguard’s critically acclaimed album Firefight was released on March 29, 2011 via Victory Records, which Revolver praised for its “epic, cinematic presence… filled with explosions, breaking glass, warrior chants and foreboding drumming.”  Firefightis available until the end of August on Amazon MP3 for $5. Order here.


Catch Blackguard on tour this fall for a month long tour starting October 7 in New York City. They will join Epica starting October 23 and will wrap up in their hometown of Montreal, Quebec.

You can view tour dates here.