3 Inches of Blood - Fire Up The Blades
Roadrunner Records
Power / Heavy Metal
13 songs (51:56)
Release year: 2007
3 Inches of Blood, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Dylan
Album of the month
I admit it, I chuckled a bit when I first heard Cam Pipes’ shrill vocal assault on Advance and Vanquish. It wasn't that I had anything against the extremely melodic and over-the-top vocals of power metal, I just never really had much listening experience with such a shrieking style of singing before. 3 Inches of Blood’s aforementioned major label debut is best remembered for the über 80’s style vocals of melodic singer Cam Pipes, the equally old school sound of the overall band, and the very infectious song Deadly Sinners. Fans of Advance and Vanquish should be quite pleased to know that although much has changed in the camp of this Canadian band, they have improved in almost every way since that last effort and have managed to craft one of my favorite albums of this year.

The themes fueling this album and band should be familiar to anyone who has explored power/heavy metal for at least 15 minutes. Slaying other living things with your mighty sword / axe (Demon’s Blade), raping / pillaging (Night Marauders), describing various abominations of life (Hydra’s Teeth), all while consuming as much food and alcohol as your battle-hardened body can house (The Great Feasting Hall). So thematically and lyrically, not much has changed. Cam Pipes (melodic vocals) and Jamie Hooper (harsh screams) still have a nice balance of mike time, though I would say that Cam gets a bit more attention on the mike this time around, and damn, this man has quite a set of lungs. This guy is up there with Painkiller-era Rob Halford, and Mercyful Fate-era King Diamond. Night Marauders is a great display of his talent, as he is able to spew out melodic verses at an unbelievably high register. At the end of the song, as the guitars are soloing away, and the drums are going fast enough to be considered blastbeats, he lets out these fantastic pitched screams that should give any metalhead within listening range a serious eargasm.

This is really amazing considering the vocalists of 3 Inches of Blood are the only members who are not totally new to the band. That’s right, the bassist, drummer, and both guitarists all make their debut at the same time on Fire Up The Blades, though that is quite hard to believe when the quality of these songs are taken into account. These songs are infused with enough musical maturity and songwriting skill, it seems as if these guys have been playing together for years. Listen to the searing opening riff of The Great Feasting Hall and try not to headbang along. The rock-like, mid-paced groove in the verse, made complete by a cowbell, gives way to Maiden-esque riffs in the chorus, all served with a short, but sweet solo on top. Mmm. Trial of Champions, God of the Cold White Silence, and Rejoice in the Fire of Man’s Demise are all great songs, and are notable for their use of keyboards. They don’t steal the melodic spotlight from the guitars by any means, but add some nice touches of majestic flavor when they do appear.

Looking for headbanging groove? Check out the aggressive bridge of Infinite Legions. Looking for straight up, thrashing aggression? Goatrider’s Horde, Night Marauders, or Demon’s Blade. Old school feel and groove? Check out the grooving The Great Hall of Feasting, Assassins of the Light, or the downstroked-excellence of The Hydra’s Teeth. It seems like the band has mastered the art of giving each song enough individual character to make them all strong on their own, while still making a beginning-to-end listen come together and seem like a complete piece of work. The melodious exhibited by the guitars and Mr. Pipes are filled to the brim with modern intensity and old-school melodicisim. Simply put: the aggressive parts are more aggressive, the groovy parts are groovier, and the catchy parts are catchier. I’m sure the influx of new blood has something to do with it, but the band as a whole seems to be revitalized with energy, anger, and a superb sense of how to write a catchy metal song. Err…13 catchy metal songs to be exact.

All this great musicianship wouldn’t be so great if everything wasn’t produced so clearly, and we have Joey Jordison to thank for that. The Slipknot drummer got a great song out of these guys. The bass is audible but not over-bearingly booming, the guitars are sharp and clear, the drums have a nice pocket to sit in, and the vocalists sound loud and pissed; just like they should. If only bands that were actually spawned in the 80’s could have had a sound like this... Anyway, I digress. Fans of Advance and Vanquish should pick this up without hesitation. As I have said before, they really seem like they gave a lot of attention to the crafting of each song (even the minute and half intro and outro) to make them stand out. Granted, the songs at the beginning will probably stand out due to their more immediate energy and placement, but the second half of the disc should definitely be given more than a few listens to get a full appreciation of the quality of these songs. Bottom line: this is straight-up, in your face HEAVY metal. The songs have an average length of around 4 minutes, the melodic hooks are as easy to grab on to as they are hard to forget, and the band seems like they’re genuinely having a great time playing some high quality heavy metal.

Note: Below is the video for "The Goatriders Horde". In time the video may become outdated and fail to play.

Killing Songs :
By Thor's hammer, all of them kill.
Dylan quoted 93 / 100
Jeff quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by 3 Inches of Blood that we have reviewed:
3 Inches of Blood - Long Live Heavy Metal reviewed by Olivier and quoted 87 / 100
3 Inches of Blood - Here Waits Thy Doom reviewed by Boris and quoted 75 / 100
3 Inches of Blood - Advance and Vanquish reviewed by Brent and quoted 90 / 100
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