Review: The Third Grade – Of Fire and Ashes Pt.2

In case you thought you’ve read about The Third Grade on DutchMetalManiac before, that sure is possible. In 2018 we interviewed them, as you can read here, about their 2017 EP Of Fire and Ashes Pt.1. In that interview you could also read that drummer Rodrigo Puché and bass player/vocalist/keyboardist Daniel Castillo left after Of Fire and Ashes Pt.1 was released. Their places are now taken over by drummer Iván Tacchella and bass player/backing vocalist Javier Masiá. The other two The Third Grade members are vocalist María Cobos and guitarist/vocalist/pianist Jose Masiá. Of course, when a Pt.1 is released the next logical step is a Pt.2, which The Third Grade was already working on during that interview.

So, that happened. On March the 20th, Of Fire and Ashes Pt.1‘s successor, as expected titled Of Fire and Ashes Pt.2, was released via the same label that also released Pt.1: Art Gates Records. As The Third Grade already mentioned in that interview, Pt.2 was going to be a full-length album, a plan that wasn’t changed. They also mentioned that they were planning to experiment more and go deeper in their own sound on Pt.2. Pt.2 indeed brings a lot more variation since there’s more space to do so due to the difference in length, while I also think Pt.1, especially Changes, certainly didn’t lack variation.

That huge amount of variation, while mainly staying in the symphonic/progressive subgenre, is The Third Grade’s power and so that’s again the case with this album.

Vocally, two things changed quite clearly: the grunts, as could be heard in Pt.1‘s Changes are even less included on Pt.2, they can only be heard for a very short period in opener The Lost. The other clearly changed vocal thing is about a huge development though. It’s about María Cobos’ vocals, which are very beautiful. Those also were nice on Pt.1, but now those can be heard even more clearly. That’s because those mostly could be heard as addition to Daniel Castillo’s lead vocals on Pt.1. On Pt.2, those still can be heard as addition to the male vocals, now done by Jose Masiá, which for sure is very nice since their voices are perfectly complementing each other. However, on this album María’s vocals can also be heard separately at more moments. A few examples of tracks in which this can be heard are opener The Lost, Polaris and Intertwine. Two other examples, in which she also hits some higher notes, are Of Fire and Ashes and album closer A Cold Awakening. Due to this huge development María’s vocals are not only bringing more variation to The Third Grade’s music, but this way her vocals get more of the justice those deserve.

That huge amount of variation can also be heard in the other aspects of this album, as mentioned before while mainly staying in the symphonic/progressive subgenre. Of Fire and Ashes Pt.2 contains a lot of rhythm changes, between the different tracks, as well as within tracks, such as can be heard in opener The Lost, Exilium, The Darkest Times and album closer A Cold Awakening. While some of these rhythm changes are between quite different rhythms, these still are very fluently executed. Of Fire and Ashes Pt.2 contains heavier pounding moments, such as in The Lost, Polaris, Intertwine and Of Fire and Ashes, and some calmer parts, such as in Exilium, A Heart Inside a Box and Rays of Light, as well as many in between. A lot of different things can be heard, like nice drum-parts, such as the epic drums in Rays of Light or the more pounding parts in Of Fire and Ashes and A Cold Awakening, a humming bass, such as in Polaris and A Heart Inside a Box, as well as some nicely humming bass riffs, such as towards the end of The Lost and halfway into Of Fire and Ashes. In addition to that proggy keyboards, such as in Intertwine and A Heart Inside a Box, heavy-sounding guitars, such as in A Heart Inside a Box and The Darkest Times, as well as some nice guitar solos, such as in The Lost, Exilium and A Cold Awakening, some electronic influences, such as in Exilium, The Darkest Times and Of Fire and Ashes, and some nice piano-parts, such as in Intertwine, A Heart Inside a Box and Rays of Light can be heard as well.

The Third Grade’s Of Fire and Ashes Pt.2 has become a very nice album recommend for everyone who likes their metal progressive and/or symphonic and in case you’ve missed Of Fire and Ashes Pt.1, be sure to check that one out as well. Both very recommended!

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