The Third Grade is a rather superior progressive metal band from Valencia in Spain, having been around since 2010; this is now their third album, although they have released several EPs and singles too. They released their self-titled debut in 2012 with Deeper, Darker following in 2016 so, you may ask, why is this album entitled Of Fire And Ashes pt 2? Well, Part 1 was an ambitious three track EP released in 2017 which featured Ice at 8 minutes and a radio edit of the same track at over 5 minutes (can you imagine a British radio station playing a 5 minute prog metal track) and the stunning Changes which clocks in at 14 minutes 30 seconds – so this is a band that delights in the extended format. There have been several line-up changes over the intervening years with the band now consisting of Jose Masiá on vocals, guitar and piano, Javier Masiá on bass, Ivan Tachella on drums and María Cobos on vocals, with both Tachella and Javier Masiá being new to the band having joined since the release of the Pt 1 EP.
The new album features nine tracks over a running time of 62 minutes, with the epic album closer, A Cold Awakening, clocking in at over 16 minutes. Vocal duties are shared between María Cobos and Jose Masiá and their male/female interaction works very well, with Cobos having a quite deep vocal register which combines to give a most harmonious aspect to the band’s sound. Jose Masiá is a great musician too and his guitar work exceptional with some very heavy riffing that gives the band a real edge. They still have a few rough edges, which actually rather suits them as their music demands that they be a little down and dirty, and a diamond is still a diamond whether it is polished or not! Keep an eye on The Third Grade as this is a band that is only going to get better – and Of Fire And Ashes is already some damned good progressive metal that you really need to hear.