Dark, cynical roadhouses lke Bogie’s in Albany, New York have been and continue to be the proving grounds or metal. It is here that the crowds deem bands worthy, encouraging their heroes with raised glasses of ale while passing judgment on inferior act with their austere silence.

As a band, Blackguard is a lot of things to a lot of people. Symphonic metal. Power metal. Folk metal. Death metal. A band that knows how to raise the rafters, bring down the house and entertain the multitudes. A band that puts on the same show, gives every effort, for forty or four thousand. The public face of this non-stop touring train is Paul "Ablaze" Zinay, lyricist, vocalist, frontman extraordinaire, who beneath all the intense metal carousing is a man with a gregarious personality and an easy smile. He and I sat down just a couple hours before he and Blackguard would take the stage to talk music, his native Canada, the nature of subgenres, where the band has come from and where they're going next.

In 2009, I remember telling people that the cover art for Blackguard's album "Profugus Mortis" was a near perfect representation of the music contained on the album; a flying canoe full of colonial-era drunkards being chased by an apparently clumsy demon.