(TheBRHM.com) One album that absolutely slammed from start to finish was 3 Inches of Blood’s second album Advance and Vanquish. Released in 2004, this is an album that metal fans who are into meaningful lyrics and complex guitar work might overlook.
That’s not a knock on 3 Inches of Blood’s ability at the time but there was some eyerolling for aggressive, fast bands during a time when there were a lot of them. When everyone’s doing it, it’s hard to be impressed by an act that is doing it extremely well when you’ve seen enough.
Compared to other power metal albums, it was definitely an epic metal or U.S power metal-style release. Advance and Vanquish was thrashy, loaded with power, and filled with fantasy tales. All of that is a big plus for me. That’s bait for me to check out most albums.
What Tracks Slammed on ‘Advance and Vanquish’?
Well, there are 13 tracks in the original 2004 release and I’d say maybe 10 of them slam, one of them comes close to slamming, and the other two are just good songs that don’t bring the album down in overall quality.
If this is a solid A album, those songs aren’t going to drop the album to a B+. They’re simply not as exciting as those other 11 songs.
Regardless, that’s a strong album with 11 heavyweights! Even if we do a vivisection of album using the cassette version, the A-side is an absolute monster and the B-side is nothing to sneeze at.
The first thing you’ll notice about the band is that during its early years, 3 Inches of Blood was rocking two vocalists. One sing did the cleaner singing while the other handled the harsher, hardcore/metalcore-type vocals. It was an interesting pairing that added to every song on Advance and Vanquish.
Personally, I was more of a fan of Cam Pipes’ cleaner vocals but Jamie Hooper bounced off of him extremely well. It got to the point that the harsh vocals helped in defining the band’s sound and another member had to pick up those duties in future albums.
For some bands, there are line-ups that just work or are considered “classic” for their work on strong releases. Pipes, Hooper, Sunny Dhak and Bobby Froese on guitars, Matt Wood on drums, and late bass player Brian Redman were a classic line-up for this release alone.
The Standout Tracks
To be honest, there are too many strong tracks. You could shuffle the songs around—while leaving the “Upon the Boiling Sea” tracks in order—and still have a dope album. Hell, you might end up with an even more powerful release.
As for tracks to really give a listen, start with “Revenge is a Vulture”. This song rocks and it keeps with the high energy, speedy approach of the album. It’s my favorite track on Advance and Vanquish and is only really matched by “Deadly Sinners” which is an exhausting anthem that will strain your vocal cords from singing along.
“Axes of Evil” is another anthem that is just as straight forward as “Deadly Sinners” and has the same kind of tempo. Again, most if not all of the songs on this album are thrashy. There are no mid-tempo or slow songs on here. Some songs start off slow but smash early in.
“Crazy Nights” is a metal anthem. The other songs were anthems but soaked in fantasy imagery. Meanwhile, “Crazy Nights” is a track that could be on an album from the new wave of heavy metal or the new wave of speed metal—no fantasy lyricism require. This is a tune about metalheads drinking, fighting, and rocking out.
There’s nothing special or thought provoking about the song. It’s just a fun song that could’ve opened a new style direction for the band after their final album Here Awaits Thy Doom.
What Brings the Album Down
While they’re good songs, the “Upon the Boiling Sea” tracks seem a bit out of place with the rest of the songs. These honestly could’ve floated a concept album and tracks from Fire Up the Blades could’ve filled in the empty spots. Songs like “The Goatriders Horde”, “Trial of Champions”, “Night Marauders”, and “Infinite Legions” would be at home on Advance and Vanquish.
However, I don’t know if the “Upon the Boiling Sea” songs would be at home on Fire Up the Blades. The strongest song of the three to me was “Lord of the Storm” which could’ve held up on Fire Up the Blades or as a standalone on Advance and Vanquish.
Perhaps it’s knowing that these songs are part of a story that I just wasn’t that invested in. I maintain that the tracks would’ve been better served in a pirate-themed concept album which I’m certain 3 Inches of Blood could’ve pulled off.
Strength of the Opener: “Fear on the Bridge (Upon the Boiling Sea I)”
I’d say that while the song was good, it wasn’t the best opener at all. This should’ve been the second track or swapped places “Deadly Sinners”, the first single from Advance and Vanquish. “Fear on the Bridge” just doesn’t have that same electricity as “Deadly Sinners”, “Revenge is a Vulture”, or “Axes of Evil”.
It wasn’t a weak opener that just killed the album but it was far from the best possible opener with at least five other candidates on the tracklist.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.