3 Inches of Blood
|©2002 Minion Music
1. Ride Darkhorse, Ride
2. Destroy The Orcs
3. Headwaters Of The River Of Blood
4. Heir To The Chaos Throne
5. Skeletal Onslaught
6. Journey To The Promiseland
7. Lady Deathwish
8. Curse Of The Lighthouse Keeper
9. Blazing Fires Of Evermore
10. Halls Of Heroes
11. Balls Of Ice
Every so often a band fully surprises you. Vancouver's 3 Inches of Blood did just that at a recent show in Edmonton. Despite looking like any random hardcore or punk band, 3 Inches of Blood churned out a set of classic metal firmly rooted in only the finest influences from the 80s. And we're not talking Keel or Krokus here. Despite the fact that any mildly knowledgable listener can quickly pick out all the influences so proudly worn on the band's collective sleeves, 3 Inches of Blood is an entirely enjoyable and excellent band.
The six piece lineup has obviously studied their Iron Maiden records as well as Mercyful Fate, Grim Reaper and King Diamond. The band features two vocalists, both of whom complement one another most impressively. The main vocalist is highly reminscient of King Diamond's super high warble, but very controlled. He sounds as though he's taken some time to learn proper training and is able to pull of all the high pitched singing live. The secondary vocalist provides screams that could be found in a lot of the newer black metal acts. This actually makes a lot of sense to have the two vocalists, rather than having one singer blow his voice trying to do the screaming. Moreover, it creates interesting melodies throughout the entire album. Themewise, 3 Inches of Blood proudly hoists the Lyrical Flag of Typical Metal, as a glance at the titles suggests. But you have to tip your hat to bands who sing about orcs. It does probably damage their reputation with the ladies, who automatically assume D&D dorks, but for those wishing to pump their fists in the air to metal anthems, this is a very good thing indeed. The music throughout Battlecry Under a Winter Sun is a romp through the fields outside Iron Maiden's practice space. The influence is immense, but 3 Inches of Blood never sounds like they're directly ripping off anyone. Hero worship is forgivable when you can come up with well written songs on your own.
Although the band's decidedly non-metal image may surprise and baffle audiences, metal fans throughout the world are urged to check this album out. Even old fogies such as myself, who feel 80s metal is the exclusive domain of bands from the era, can be mightily impressed and be encouraged to pump thy fist in the air. Every fan of the old school of metal is hereby ordered to discover Vancouver's secret weapon.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 04/2003
1. Fear On the Bridge (Upon the Boiling Sea I)
2. Deadly Sinners
3. Revenge is a Vulture
4. Dominion of Deceit
5. Premonition of Pain
6. Lord of the Storm (Upon the Boiling Sea II)
9. Axes of Evil
10. Crazy Nights
11. Destroy the Orcs
12. The Phantom of the Crimson Cloak
13. Isle of Eternal Despair (Upon the Boiling Sea III)
So somewhere along the way, British Columbia's 3 Inches of Blood got noticed by Roadrunner and acquired a recording contract. But during that process, the band shed some members and replaced them with guys who looked the metal part rather than the emo/hardcore/indie look the band had previously sported. Their first effort on Roadrunner, Advance and Vanquish, did not differ greatly from their independent debut, but it generally feels more mechanical and lacking some of the chemistry of Battlecry Under a Wintry Sun.
Advance and Vanquish does not stray far from the band's love of classic metal mixed with a somewhat speedy tempo, albeit hardly thrash or speed metal. The same elements that were utilized so well on the first album are still intact, from the Maiden-esque leads to Cam Pipes' high pitched wailing. Admittedly, I've never been a fan of this sort of heavy metal singing style, but Pipes somehow pulls it off better than his famous influences (particularly King Diamond, who I still can't forgive for grabbing his crotch during a Mercyful Fate concert I once attended). (Seriously, King, what the hell?) In fact, there's little wrong with the musicianship but the songwriting does feel a bit flat in comparison to the debut, which is something I seem to be fixating on. As we all know, a band has a lifetime to write songs for their debut and a short period of time for its follow up, particularly if there's demand for them to hit the road and bring the swords, orcs and phantoms to a club near you.
There are certainly many worse metal albums released in 2004. Advance and Vanquish has its moments, but it seems to lack the enthusiastic, unpretentious energy of the first record.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 10/2010