About eighteen months ago I was in what passes for my local record store, browsing around for a copy of the classic Judas Priest album, Sad Wings Of Destiny, which I had, for one reason or another, never heard in its entirety (this has since been rectified). After a few minutes of fruitless searching, I gave up and turned to leave, but a CD on the shelf caught my eye. The cover art was insanely cool and both the album title and the band name convinced me that it was worth taking a risk on and purchasing. About an hour later I had realized just what a good decision it had been to buy Fire Up The Blades by 3 Inches Of Blood.
The Canadians absolutely destroyed. Every single song was awesome on the first listen. Fire Up The Blades was definitely not an album which had to grow on me. In fact, I loved the album so much, I listened to it at least a dozen times over the next week, despite the fact I was meant to be working on various assignments. While not a unique experience this has only ever happened to me a few times before (Persistence of Time, Screaming For Vengeance and NOLA). Which says something for how highly I rate this CD.
While every track on this album is more than good, the track Trial of Champions stands out even among these gems. The organ sounds sick and really furthers the sheer awesomeness of such a song. In fact, since buying this album, the only songs which have lost any appeal to me are Infinite Legions and Black Spire. That being said, this must have been after listen number fifty-and-something when I decided those two were no longer pleasing to me.
One of the albums many highlights is the vocal performance. The two duelling vocalists Cam Pipes, who sings falsetto brings an old school feeling to the band, whereas Jamie Hooper provides a far more modern screaming style. The contrast between these two is essentially the basis of their trademark sound. Guitarists Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark as a duo can stand up to the likes of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton or even Angus and Malcolm Young going by their great riffs and solo trade-offs (see Assassins Of The Light). The bass, played by Nick Cates, performs a mainly supporting role and rarely brings much to the table, however this works well in context. Alexi Rodriguez, the bands drummer, is the final piece of the 3 Inches of Blood puzzle and performs his role amazingly – The Goatriders Horde in particular showcases his skill.
The album is produced by Joey Jordinson, drummer for Slipknot, who brings out the 3IoB’s sound and style very well. The mix is good and all the instruments sound clear without becoming part of “the loudness war” that so many albums in the current music environment get caught up in. In short, the production on Fire Up The Blades is perfect.
To end this review, I’ll leave you with some of the coolest and most poignant lyrics on the album, taken from the song Forest King: “The earth grows quiet, all plant life will dominate again. When every structure falls, you’ll know the forest is king.”