11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I've loved all things heavy since I was a teenager back in the late '70's. Maybe some will sneer at me for being too old to be listening to metal, but the hell with 'em. I'm a guitarist, and I explore the instrument in all its possibilites. Metal was my escape and now I admire it for its technical precision which alt rock dweebs couldn't hope to equal, the youthful energy and just plain good playing, depending on the band. I don't like rap-metal at all, so don't even bring it up.
Three Inches Of Blood are a unique outfit for having two singers, one covering the Halford range coyote yelps, and the other spewing gutteral croaks that sound like Satan with gas. Frankly, I'm a little tired of "grunt vocalists", so having one that can sing is refreshing. Trivium, for example, needs to make up their mind on their vocals. I'd much prefer the clear singing and harmonies, but hey, nobody asked me.
That little complaint aside, Three Inches newest slab features breakneck riffing, harmonies ala Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, the imagery of medieval times and thunderous drumming and production - in other words, textbook metal. It isn't a ripoff, or a tired formula, however. What makes bands like Three Inches work is love of the music, dedication and real ambition. This is why some metal acts like Saxon, Judas Priest and the aforementioned Iron Maiden are still together and still command very respectable audiences worldwide. Critics can slobber all over the next "sensitive" songwriter, pop diva or whomever. It remains a fact though that for sheer career security, metal outrivals all other forms of rock music, and that's saying something. Getting Three Inches of Blood's latest is a good example of an unfairly maligned musical form done right.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Following a three year hiatus after the release of "Advance and Vanquish," 3 Inches of Blood returned in 2007 with "Fire up the Blades." So what has changed since 2004? Well, all of the musicians, for one (that's right, the former guitarists, bassist, and drummer have all been replaced!). They've also tapped a new producer (Slipknot's Joey Jordinson), and now boast substantially better guitar work, more technical drumming, more memorable and individually remarkable songs, a more pronounced thrash influence (this is easily their thrashiest release thus far), and even a few black metal tinges. With all of these changes, one might expect the new record to sound drastically different than past releases. But it doesn't; in fact, it only changes in one way - for the better: "Fire up the Blades" is hands down this Vancouver, Canada based sextet's finest effort to date.
If there was any real doubt if 3IOB were at all a metalcore band before, there should now officially be none - they are power/traditional/speed/melodic thrash through and through. This album is definitely influenced greatly by the likes of Judas Priest, Metallica (circa "Master of Puppets"), Iron Maiden, and Dokken, and it takes more than few cues from Dragonforce, as well. You will also hear shades of Motorhead, Megadeth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Thin Lizzy, Exodus, Manowar, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Cacophony, modern thrash (a la Lamb of God and Avenged Sevenfold), Helloween, Gamma Ray, Pantera, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Saxon, and Kreator. Indeed, the final sound isn't a homage to just one band -- it is more like a throwback to all old-school metal.
Now, let's get this out of the way: It is true that Cam Pipes, um, pipes aren't the easiest thing to listen to, and take some time to get warm on you. But any reviewer who says the music is hindered by his harsh, larynx-shredding screams obviously has not given this album more than one listen. Granted, they might evoke a three your old muppet on crack the first time you hear them, but it will soon become apparent that they are every bit as good as what was heard on Judas Priest's "Painkiller" (even the man himself, Rob Halford, has said so!). And even if you can't get over the vocals, there is still more than enough other things to enjoy here. These twelve very catchy and memorable songs (save the intro track, "Through the Horned Gate") are chock full of excellent, thrashy riffs, great leads, killer solos, impeccable drumming, aggressive bass lines, infectious hooks, and classic power metal-esque mythical lyrics. Yes, this type of subject matter may be a bit cheesy and over the top, but are clearly meant to be all tongue-in-cheek and in good fun.
The swift "Night Marauders" gets the ball rolling quickly. It is one of many tunes here with a great, Van Halen-like swing, fiery, crunching riffs, galloping leads, soaring guitar lines, oh-so-anguished vocals, deft drumming, and a shredding, wah-drenched solo. From here, you launched into "The Goatrider's Horde," which is sure to keep your blood-pumping, as it is even faster than its predecessor, and even boasts forceful blast beats. Track four, "Trial of Champions," is a screamfest from start to finish (Cam's vocal chords must be made of steel!) with chug and churn guitars, fun, rollicking grooves, and a good, ripping solo. The song's open, tuneful chorus (which is complete with keyboards!), effectively offsets the rest of it. The proceeding "God of the Cold White Silence" works similarly - beginning with energetic tempos, and ripping, smoke-inducing fretwork before abruptly slowing down at about the midpoint to tuck in some well-placed synths and guitar harmonies.
The biggest highlight of the album's latter half is "Forest King," which has grumbling bass lines, tasty riff crunch, and melodic leads galore. It also features a very epic and blissfully melodic solo section that is well-worth rewinding five or six times and listening to again. Other standouts include the great, machine gun licks, impressive, pounding drums behind "Demon's Blade"; the immensely catchy, head-bobbing rhythm, strong bass bottom, mazey solo, and fairly absurd lyrics of "The Great Hall of Feasting"; the furious, nimble-fingered riffing pummeling, steamrolling drum blasts, and deliciously clean solo in "Infinite Legions"; and "Assassins of the Light," which is highlighted by a tastefully-used cowbell, and strong, prominent bass throbs throughout.
The only thing that seems to be missing from "Fire up the Blades" is some kind of 1980's-esque cover art (like, say, Maiden's trademark undead mascot, Eddie). Plus, a bass solo or two might have been nice. But it would be nitpicking to call these things imperfections. This is an extremely fun, contagious, memorable, addictive, and eargasmic listen from front to back. You may well find yourself listening to it at least once every day! It might not QUITE be album of the year material, but in my book, it definitely does take home the 2007 Grammy for two categories: The Most Pleasant Surprise, and The Best Soundtrack For Playing Air Guitar. All metalheads -- both old and new-school -- should find much to enjoy in "Fire up the Blades."