It has been nearly six years since I was first confronted by the band known as 3 Inches of Blood. It was a live show that had them opening for Metal Church. I was impressed but not necessarily crazy about them. A few months late I checked out their major label (Roadrunner)debut album, Advance and Vanquish. It turned out that I really liked the sound they delivered, modern but with old school flourishes. Somehow I managed to miss the follow up, 2007's Fire Up the Blades (something I will eventually rectify), and went right on to the 2009 release Here Waits thy Doom.
This, their fourth album overall, is the first to not feature any original band members. It is also the first release since the departure of one half of their vocal team, Jamie Hooper. This leaves Cam Pipes to handle the majority of the vocal duties and guitarist Justin Hagberg to take up the screaming position, a style that has greatly diminished on Here Waits thy Doom.
The band really know how to blend their influences and turn out music that is relevant to the current music scene while also calling back to the days of our youth. Think of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Accept getting together with a modern producer and churned out something new. This is music clearly designed to be something of a throwback, but not in the same way as the retro-thrash acts like Warbringer. 3 Inches of Blood bring a little more technicality to the table. Not to say Warbringer and the like do not have a tech component, it is just different.
Right from the start I was hooked. It makes you want to break out the old ripped up jeans, Maiden t-shirt, leather jacket with the denim vest covered in band patches and just bang your head till it bleeds. Seriously. While not nearly as great as those metal forefathers, 3 Inches of Blood do a great job of evoking those memories of a bygone era while also fitting right in with modern metal. Not to mention the fun they bring. They definitely put a smile on my face.
Infectious hard rock and metal is what you get here. Cam Pipes leads the way with his high-pitched, yet still very metal. His voice is at the forefront here, and I like it. The lack of much in the way of screams may take away a little from their unique blend but there is something about Pipes as the primary that invokes those old-school memories. The way he delivers the lyrics and their over-the-top subject matter with talk of execution, witches, preacher's daughters and more, takes it to that next level.
On top of the vocals, the twin guitar work of Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark have a very vintage feel. There are some very current sounding riffs, but there some very nice melodic moments and riffs that sound ripped from the 1980s. There is even something about the instruments production values, including Ash Pearson's drums, that sound like they were recorded on equipment from the era. I cannot quite describe it, but the way the music sounds, full, yet a little bit thin, that reminds me of 80's recordings.
The album doesn't quite have the punch or energy of Advance and Vanquish and I have to attribute that to Hooper's departure and a change in drummers. This is not bad by any stretch, but there is a noticeable difference.
Bottomline. If you are a fan of metal and have a penchant for the originators, this is a band to check out. This is a solid album with some really catchy head banging tunes.