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A Cliche Title... But Better Music Than The Last - 82%

WingsOfBlack, March 31st, 2012

Been a big fan of these guys for quite a while. Ever since I heard "The Goatriders Horde" and got used to the high vocals, I've been hooked. After the last album, I had lost hope for this band. It seemed without their growl vocalist, Jamie Hooper, they had lost their heavier edge, but this album feels like a fitting redemption for the crime of their last album.

Boy oh boy, do I love me some good sound quality, and after "Here Waits Thy Doom", this album is like an eargasm of clear, clean sound. The recording quality, guitar tones, vocal quality, and pretty much everything on this album is so much better sounding than on the last. To me it sounds like "Fire Up The Blades" Part 2; it has a lot of similar elements to that album and a similar sound (although less sinister and evil-sounding). The drums are crashing and thumping, the guitars are clear and heavy with lots of distortion to really bring the crunch, and the vocals are crisp, clean, and as high as always.

The songs are nice and heavy with a lot of newer metal sound, but they keep the balance with the old style vocals and some '80s-inspired riffs mixed in. The riffs are fast and heavy and there's plenty of fast drums and double kicks with the intense vocals of Cam Pipes and the growls of Justin worked in where it fits.

Epic storytelling and fantasy themes are back with songs like "4000 Torches", "Storming Juno" and "Die For Gold (Upon the Boiling Sea IV)" which I was surprised to see them follow up on 3 albums later. There are a few cliche lyrics here and there like in "Metal Woman" and "Leather Lord", but it's hard to avoid this with the style 3IOB goes for. The song "Storming Juno" is a great song about the invasion of Juno Beach during WWII. The song "Look Out" is a very nice tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, which was very nice and they kept it heavy and fast (which is how I'm sure Ronnie would want his tribute) instead of making some sort of power ballad.

I'm very glad I gave this album a chance instead of brushing it off after the last record. If you like Fire Up The Blades, this record will surely put a smile on your face (or frown if you want to be metal about it).

Highlights:
-4000 Torches (that chorus is burned into my brain).
-Dark Messenger
-My Sword Will Not Sleep
-Leather Lord

Could do without:
-The lyrics of "Metal Woman" and "Leather Lord", just a bit too cliche for my taste.

Hope this review helps anyone new to the band or is wondering about this album.