After having spent some time developing their skills in melodic death metal the Belarus based band Asguard have now delved deep into symphonic black metal with their second album "Black Fire Land". Unlike many other Eastern European bands who have chosen to walk a more primitive and "true" path, their music is well produced and contains plenty of keyboards and melodies in the vein of early Emperor and Old Man's Child. Once in a while you can also trace some minor Cradle Of Filth tendencies but they are rather few and rare. The album begins with a very nice intro followed by some fast, melodic and intense riffing. Even though this is more or less a low budget recording compared to modern standards Asguard have been careful to see to that everything can be heard in the music. Every instrument is in its right place and the melodies have been lifted to the front. Asguard may be able to compete with the leading bands in their genre in due time but right now there is in particular one thing missing to take them to the top as the vocals lack in both power and performance. It is only in "War", an old track from their 1997 demo "In The Darkness Of The Night", that the vocals sound really good. They could progress in the song writing process as well but the material presented on this album is still stronger than average. The melodic opener, the melodic death metal riffing meets Cradle Of Filth symphonies in "Eternal Dream", the very fast and powerful keyboard / guitar combination in "Bloody Hate..." and the riff-happy "War" are the highlights from this album. Something worth mentioning is also the inclusion of their Manowar cover "Metal Warriors" which however doesn't mean much to me as it is, even in its original version, a boring and far from impressive song. Recommended to fans of melodic black and death metal.