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The Third Grade - Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2

The Third Grade
Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2
by Kai Naiman at 12 March 2020, 6:37 AM

THE THIRD GRADE is a Progressive Metal band from Valencia, Spain. With a wide array of influence mostly gathered from giant names in the likes of DREAM THEATER, OPETH, GENESIS, JETHRO TULL and NIGHTWISH to name a few, the Spaniards have recently released their sophomore full-length input, unsurprisingly titled "Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2", and will be looking to captivate on their development as a band as well as on their sound's diversification.

Taking front, "The Lost" opens the compendium with what appears to be a very bold stance; the track kicks in with a fast and powerful, melodic riff, provided mostly by the instrumentation of Jose Masiá and Iván Tacchella, but soon changes to a verse-precending breakdown section. Masiá and María Cobos then alternate their vocal passages between the two first verses. Being the opening number on this album, there sure is no shortage in instrumentational and compositional changes throughout the track - as the band's style keeps fluctuation between fast and aggressive Heavy Metal and a less-threatening melodic Pop-Rock tune. If there's anything that can be said of the mind-twisting action happening on "The Lost" - is that it's an immediate people-pleaser - with wild guitar and drum riffs, taunting vocal and piano melodies and even an ever-important bass section that can be sang-along-to and headbanged-to as soon as the first note is played.

Although "Exilium" is the next track, I found it on the weaker and more-forgettable end of the album. Instead, I've decided to focus on the succeeding, third number, "Polaris"; this is the track where Cobos wholly dominates on the vocal front, and, at times, even resembles of Anneke van Giersbergen of THE GATHERING and VUUR. Her vocal input is also accompanied by a suitable instrumentation backing. As soon the slower and tamed part reaches completion, Masiá takes front again, with a rather vigorous middle section. The closing moments of the track bring the listener back to the mellower tune we were introduced to at the beginning, but rather ends with a shadowing drumroll, teasing for what's next to come.

And surely, the follow-up number is yet another twist in the ever-changing plot that is "Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2", fourth number and single, "Intertwine". This is perhaps where THE THIRD GRADE wanted to sound more melodic than usual. The track commences with a tranquil piano melody that slowly introduces the accompanying of some electronic synths and the nearly-angelic vocals of Cobos, which, on this track at least, reminisces me of fellow Spanish singeress Ailyn Giménez, who formerly sang for the Norwegian act SIRENIA. The instrumentation provided by the Masiá brothers and Iván Tacchella, feel more of modern Progressive Metal acts, incorporating tonically-matching electric synth, guitar and bass arpeggios. This electronic-escapade is later followed on "A Heart Inside A Box" - which is what I can only consider is what "Pitfalls" as a whole was to LEPROUS' discography.

Lyrically though, "Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2" tells a story about self-hatred and loss and portrays a grim and desperate picture of the storyteller, whom we can only assume to be attributed to either of the band members, their closer circle or a fictional tale. Either way, this would've made the listeners envision a dramatic and tragic scenery, if not for the vocal duo's excusable and forgivable native lingual accent.

Overall, THE THIRD GRADE, who just completed their second chapter, have accumulated a very important milestone with "Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2". They have expertly delivered a diverse and punctual record and a smooth production. Is it anything unheard-of and ground-breaking? No - but for what it is, and for what it's worth, "Of Fire And Ashes Pt.2" is a fantastic album, produced by a very talented bunch.

Songwriting: 7
Production: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7

4 Star Rating

1. The Lost
2. Exilium
3. Polaris
4. Intertwine
5. A Heart Inside A Box
6. The Darkest Times
7. Rays Of Light
8. Of Fire And Ashes
9. A Cold Awakening
Jose Masiá - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Javier Masiá - Bass, Backing Vocals
María Cobos - Vocals
Iván Tacchella - Drums
Record Label: Art Gates Records


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Edited 09 December 2022

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