A major overhaul of personnel results in a much better album from 3 Inches Of Blood. The fundamentals of the music are the same, with a heavy reliance on channeling Maiden and Priest, but there is an added edge and intensity to Fire Up The Blades that elevates at least the first half of the CD to much more than just a salute to metal's history.
Advance And Vanquish, and from that perspective it is remarkable that the band retains it's identity.
Produced by Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, Fire Up The Blades opens with a spectacular bang. After the brooding instrumental sets the stage, Night Marauders is an immediate statement of progression, 3 Inches Of Blood finding darker death metal tones to their sound, and injecting layers of welcome complexity into the songwriting. The Goatriders Horde is even better, the band dropping into a top speed groove behind the massive drums of Alexei Rodriguez and showcasing terrifically understated guitar work from Clark and Hagberg.
The good music continues with Trial Of Champions, ice cold keyboards suddenly coming to prominence to add further maturity to the music. Another epic quickly follows with God Of The Cold White Silence, one of the band's best achievements with a surging build-up to a stunning melody surveying the vanquished world from the top of a massive mountain. Forest King rounds out the good half of the album with an energetic sprint powered by pure Maiden juice, Clark and Hagberg unleashing magic that is both inspired and nostalgic for more than five minutes.
Somewhat unfortunately, after the powerful opening set Fire Up The Blades continues for a long time, the back half losing focus and undeniably running out of good ideas. But there is no denying the momentum that the band generates, as they have fun both hailing and building upon the sounds invented by their heroes.
Cam Pipes - Vocals
Jamie Hooper - Vocals
Shane Clark - Guitar
Justin Hagberg - Guitar
Nick Cates - Bass
Alexei Rodriguez - Drums
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Through The Horned Gate - n/a (short instrumental)
2. Night Marauders - 8
3. The Goatriders Horde - 10
4. Trial Of Champions - 9
5. God Of The Cold White Silence - 10
6. Forest King - 8
7. Demon's Blade - 7
8. The Great Hall Of Feasting - 7
9. Infinite Legions - 6
10. Assassins Of The Light - 7
11. Black Spire - 7
12. The Hydra's Teeth - 7
13. Rejoice In The Fires Of Man's Demise - n/a (short instrumental)
Produced by Joey Jordison.
Engineered by Dan Turner. Mixed by Zeuss.
Mastered by Ted Jensen.
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