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Before I start, I'd like to point out that I'm a big fan of 3IOB and have all of their albums. That being said, this one was a big disappointment. I've always loved their style and sound, which to me was a perfect blend of newer metals and older metal like the '80s. But after all of their other albums and even the current album, Long Live Heavy Metal, this one just left a bland taste in my mouth.
For starters, the recording quality itself sounds so much worse than the last 2 albums by quite a bit, which to me is odd since usually bands make more money as they go and can afford better quality sound. The production just sounds like its straight out of the era of Black Sabbath while their previous records sound much cleaner and clearer. The vocals especially sound recorded and sung much worse, and it almost sounds like he's singing through a fan instead of belting out those crisp, clear highs that I'm used to. The guitars and drums are much more "outdated" and somewhat muffled, making the whole album less heavy and crushing by several notches. Even the heaviest song on the album, "Call of the Hammer", is less heavy than almost any other song they have to date.
Secondly, the songwriting itself has the same "outdated" feel to it as the recording quality. Like I already stated, I always felt they had a perfect mix of old and new sounds of metal, but this album was just pushed 90% over to the old metal side and there's very little new metal sound mixed in to balance it out. The drums are often pretty plain and even have tambourine in a couple places to get more of a feel for the old days. The guitars are pretty bland as well if you ask me, sounding like it could have been written by a rock band like Jet. Other than a few moments of newer metal, I wouldn't be surprised to even hear this on some rock radio station.
Lastly are the lyrics. While some are okay and tolerable, the rest seem cringe-worthy and very cliche. Lyric-wise, this album seems almost like a tribute to the old days instead of something new. Compared to their previous works with grand storytelling and epic tales woven into songs, this album just is pretty boring and cliche in most cases, and comes complete with a rock anthem called "Rock In Hell".
Overall, I am very disappointed and am considering trading this album back in for store credit at the record store.
-All of Them Witches
-Fierce Defender (mainly because it was the only song that really had storytelling in it).
Could do with out:
-Pretty much this whole album.
If you like their previous works as much as I do, this album may not be your cup of tea. If you're new to 3IOB, I'd recommend "Advance and Vanquish" or "Fire Up The Blades", personally.