3 Inches of Blood
Long Live Heavy Metal
posted on 4/2012 By:
For years now I have ignored 3 inches of Blood because I thought the band was a joke... and it had a hardcore singer. Quite how I formulated the impression that the band was a joke, I cannot say, but I got it in my head that it was a bunch of metalcore douchebags making some kind of ironic heavy metal parody, and even if that was not the case, the band still had a hardcore singer, so fuck 'em. In my opinion, with perhaps a few exceptions, hardcore singers belong in hardcore bands and no-fucking-where else, least of all in a traditional metal band, parody or not. Well, I have good news for you, or at least for me: The hardcore signer is out. How long he's been out, I do not know and do not care. Good riddance. I have more good news for you, or maybe again just for me: 3 Inches of Blood is no joke. The band’s lyrics might be a little tongue in cheek at times, but its fifth album, I think not ironically titled Long Live Heavy Metal, is definitely serious heavy metal, and pretty god-damned good to boot.
The early part of Long Live Heavy Metal finds 3 Inches of Blood wearing its influences on its sleave. “Metal Woman” starts the record off with a vintage Accept vibe: slightly cheesy, but hard-hitting and infectious. “My Sword Will Not Sleep” works a Manowar-esque theme of vengeance-at-swordpoint to great effect, with lead singer Cam Pipes delivering the most fist-pumping, head-banging, scream-along chorus of the album, and make no mistake, the competition is stiff. “Leather Lord” is an ode to a metal hero/anti-hero figure in much the same vein as Priest classics like “The Sentinel”, “Sinner” and particulalry from a musical standpoint, “Painkiller”. The perfectly titled “Look Out” is a rousing tribute to Ronnie James Dio, the lyrics of which are filled with references to Dio’s work. Unfortunately, the song loses some momentum during the extended keyboard solo section, which is perhaps a reference to Rainbow, but ends up sounding more like Deep Purple.
In the latter half of Long Live Heavy Metal, 3 Inches of Blood revels in a little Canadian pride with “Leave it on the Ice” and “Storming Juno”. “Leave it on the Ice” is about Canada’s true national sport, ice hockey. (No offense to curling, but let’s be honest here…) The game’s combination of speed, skill, brutality and player-enforced code of honor make it a perfect match for metal, and 3 Inches of Blood puts this one in the five-hole. “Storming Juno” pays tribute to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division’s participation in the Allied invasion of Normandy during WWII. The songs lyrics are a bit trite at times, but Cam Pipe’s passionate delivery and another sterling performance by the band make “Storming Juno” a winner.
Vocals often make or break traditional metal bands, and 3 Inches of Blood is no different. Cam Pipes performs entirely in falsetto. To some (myself included), Cam’s voice will sound, in all the right ways, like a combination of Rob Halford and Udo Dirkschneider. True, Pipes lacks the versatility of the former and the gritty swagger of the latter, but the range and power he displays on this record is, frankly, ridiculous. Cam’s voice is the engine that drives this record; consequently, for those to whom falsetto shrieking is like fingernails on a chalkboard, Long Live Heavy Metal will be rough on the ears.
As for the instrumental portion of Long Live Heavy Metal, it is impeccable. Granted, traditional metal is not the most complex of metal styles, but the members of 3 Inches of Blood have all, no doubt, done time in more extreme metal bands, and their chops shine through on occasion, with liberal use of double bass and intense picking that pushes the music into thrash territory. If there is a flaw in Long Live Heavy Metal, it is that the record is perhaps a little too slick, too predictable and maybe a little too pretty. It would be nice if once in a while a riff came out of left-field and punched you in the gut, but the album has no such surprises. The band, at times, seems to be following a form more than following its own muse. If that sounds like nit-picking, it is; there is not a Hell of a lot to bitch about on this record.
With Long Live Heavy Metal, 3 Inches of Blood has taken my pre-conceived notions of the band and beaten me to a pulp with them. Never, however, have I been so happy to take my lumps: Long Live Heavy Metal is a true metal record in every sense, and an absolute joy to listen to.
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