Review Summary: Fire Up The Blades delivers an expectedly enjoyable metal ride that embraces the clichés of the genre rather than pushing them away.
3 Inches of Blood's intentions have come under fire since their inception, and rightfully so. Are they a joke? Aren't they a joke? Regardless of what you answer, you'll only ever be half right; half-wrong if you're a pessimist. 3 Inches of Blood are almost too metal for their own good. Metal is, and always has been, sort of an inside joke that only certain people realize (and even fewer find funny), and 3 Inches of Blood take it to the extreme. Their music is, at its core, simple and fun heavy metal; songs about marching, Orcs, sinners and daggers. Seems pretty standard by metal, ugh, standards. And it is, so why the debate? Is there even a debate to be had? If there is, there shouldn't be.
3 Inches of Blood are completely ridiculous, in a good way. Cam Pipes and Jamie Hooper are just two dudes that really, really love metal, and they sing about traditional metal things as a reflection of that. It's funny, surely, but they're not really doing anything different (lyrically) than the Helloweens and Manowars of the world. "Fire up the Blades" is the group's second offering from Roadrunner Records, and features a brand new line-up (besides Pipes and Hooper) and, to the dismay of many, Joey Jordison's debut as a producer.
It also features, to my count, roughly 37 weapons on the front cover. The blades are there, surely, but also found are some spears, a mace, and some shit
I can't even name. It only gets metaller from there.
First, let's start with the vocals since they're the most noticeable thing with the group. Cam Pipes is responsible for "Cleans" and Jamie Hooper is responsible for the "Screams", but both come off as pretty harsh. Cam Pipes exclusively "sings" in the highest register he can reach (actually, it often sounds like he's singing beyond his capabilities). Imagine Halford's highest notes, only constant. Pipes' vocals haven't changed, and they're still annoying 50% of the time, but they also serve mostly as an accent to Hooper's. Jamie Hooper is a less distinguished but more tolerable vocalist, turning out harsh vocals that would fit in perfectly with heavier metal acts, mostly of the death persuasion.
While the vocals are the obvious make or break aspect of the album (and band), there's plenty of neutral ground to be found in the music. Never ones for subtlety, "Fire Up The Blades" has the group honing their blend of heavy and power metal, all the while throwing some other (equally metal) sounds. Infinite Legions
starts off with a death/thrash blast of speed and aggression, while Forest King
pays tribute to the legendary Holy Diver by essentially lifting the trademark bassline. Assassins of the Light
starts off with two things that immediately let you know it'll kick ass
; cowbell and beer. Well, I assume its beer, mostly because 3 Inches of Blood aren't a bunch of pussies. And, before you make a reference to that stupid fuck
ing SNL skit, there is more cowbell to be found on the album. Oh, and the organ on Trial of Champions
nice touch, guys.
It's hard to hate this album, even with the sometimes irritating vocals. It never takes itself too seriously, a seemingly forgotten quality in heavy metal, and it meshes some of the best parts of some of the best eras. It's clearly worshipping the genre rather than setting out to revolutionize it. This is what happens when Judas Priest has predictably gay sex with Iron Maiden and Megadeth, and I say that in the nicest way possible. A lot of what's found on the album has been heard before, which should be obvious considering their influences barely reach the 90s, but all things considered this is a fun and painfully metal album that, sadly might lose some of it's initial appeal after a few weeks. Oh, and Joey Jordison does a great job with the production and [thankfully] does not make a guest appearance.