3 Inches Of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal
I remember my first experience with 3 Inches Of Blood (from here on referred to as 3IoB) while perusing a local record store, thinking their first big hit, “Deadly Sinners”, was something from an upcoming Judas Priest release that I had no idea about (this was in 2004, long before the Halford reunion!). So naturally, I was interested. Old-school riffs, over-the-top vocals (both from Cam Pipes and former member Jamie Hooper), and a total retro-metal vibe that, at the time, was sorely lacking from newer metal bands. No lame acoustic bits and half time breakdowns that suck all the energy out of the fury, just 100% pure metal cranked up to 11? Sign me up!
Eight years and three albums later, we still see the same 3IoB from the days of Advance And Vanquish. The harsh vocals have been relegated to Cam Pipes’ epic pipes (the harsh vocals on the first three 3IoB releases are totally love/hate…they either make the band unique or they suck for the whole retro style), so your opinion of Fire Up The Blades might not necessarily affect your opinion on Long Live Heavy Metal. Sure, guitarist/vocalist Justin Hagberg has a few spots of “lead” vocal duty, but it’s only in a select few spots, whereas his and Shane Clark’s riffs and leads dominate the album. Bass and drums are “there,” for lack of a better description, but very few metal bands have a bassist or drummer that really stands out. Sure, Byron Stroud and and Ash Pearson hold down the beat very well, but there certainly isn’t a rhythm section clinic going on here.
As is typical for 3IoB, everything (other than the nifty acoustic interlude, “Chief And The Blade) is typical up-tempo traditional metal with some serious falsetto vocals. The riffs pull their influences from everything ranging from traditional NWOBHM to thrash to some melodic black/death, but mostly sticking to the tried-and-true British sound of the early 80s (check out “Leather Lord,” the closest thing to “Painkiller” I’ve heard, and that’s a good thing).
“Metal Woman” opens up the album with a bang, and it continues other than a slight pause with “Chief And The Blade” (serving, essentially, as an intro to “Dark Messenger”). “Look Out” is a tribute to the legendary Ronnie James Dio, and unlike most “tribute” songs (Iced Earth’s “Blessed Are You” and “Watching Over Me” to name a few), it isn’t a cheesy power ballad, but rather balls-out speed metal that would make RJD proud, especially with the dueling guitar/keyboard solos reminiscent of “A Light In The Black” from Rainbow Rising (though only a fraction of the length, it’s still the highlight of the album). “Die For Gold” takes us back to the awesome Running Wild tribute trilogy “Upon The Boiling Sea”, (if it’s metal and about pirates, it’s a tribute to or rip-off of Running Wild, depending on quality…it’s a law) joining Rush’s “Fear” as one of the best 4-part trilogies ever recorded.
Sure, this is a pretty generic album as far as 3IoB goes (then again, they’ve never really been adventurous), but the riffs, solos, and especially the vocals are catchy and memorable as hell, and it’s a great rocker of an album. It’s generic in the same way that Kill ’em All and Screaming For Vengeance are generic 80s speed metal…they define the genre! Ok, so the Canadian crew are about 30 years behind Venom and Motörhead, but they’ve mastered the game with a slightly modern twist. Painkiller is a similar example of badass early 80s metal with a touch of modern influence, and Long Live Heavy Metal is the best Painkiller sound-alike album around. It’s fast, intense, and totally rifftastic with amazing screaming vocals.
I wrote off Ilium as being good, but too generic, but that was also a case of everything running together for an hour. 3IoB manages to create the stereotypical “modern” 80s metal album without giving in to self-parody (see: Manowar Syndrome), and yet are instantly recognizable. Take the best bits of Judas Priest, throw in some Mercyful Fate and Venom, and sprinkle a bit of Zetro-era Exodus and you have Long Live Heavy Metal. You will not be disappointed.
Kylie’s rating: 4.25 out of 5