|3 Inches of Blood's Cam Pipes (which has to be a stage name, right?) belts one out at an outdoor festival.|
Having not reviewed an album since Apocalyptica's latest offering (I think that was in October or November? I'm not very good at this, am I?) it's certainly high time I did another one. I've selected the latest album by Canadian heavy metal act 3 Inches of Blood for review largely because I'll be seeing them live tomorrow at the Annex in Madison, but also because they're a band that I think most of you will enjoy, whether you're a fan of classic rock like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden or heavier stuff like Slayer, Exodus and Overkill. They were discovered by their current label and gained a following while opening for The Darkness, (of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" fame) so that should provide you with a frame of reference for their sound.
"Here Waits Thy Doom" represents a definite stylistic change for the band, necessitated by the departure of backup vocalist (harsh wailer/screamer) Jamie Hooper, whose damaged vocal cords did not fully recover by the time the album was recorded in late 2009. Guitarist Justin Hagberg took on the growling vocals himself, making the band a four-piece. Hooper's absence put the vast majority of the vocal burden upon Rob Halford-esque Cam Pipes. Pipes' high-pitched wail has become part of the bands' trademark sound, and for good reason. The dude nails it on every song, bringing energy and power to every verse and chorus. Pipes simply has no off-switch.
Not only does the album represent an evolution in membership, but in sound as well. "Here Waits Thy Doom" puts the focus on bluesy, anthemic riffs more often than scorching, technical licks. It has its share of fast, punishing tunes, but this album demonstrates that 3 Inches of Blood are beginning to become masters at emulating the classic heavy metal sound popularized by bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Saxon, hell, the entire New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The riffing is melodic and polished, but Pipes' vocals always bring an edge to the song, keeping it brutal and aggressive.
The tracks are by and large winners, with a few here and there that aren't particularly memorable. The album starts out strong with the ale-swilling anthem "Battles and Brotherhood" and the rockin' "Silent Killer." The middle section has a gem or two, but nothing that truly sticks out. What really surprised me was the tenth track, titled "12:34:" it's an acoustic instrumental piece! A really good one, I might add. This was totally unexpected and it helped to break up the album a bit and prevent things from feeling too same-y. The final track is titled "Execution Tank," and in case you haven't guessed, it's about an awesome tank that shoots stuff and crushes enemies; reminding you that yes, you're still listening to a 3 Inches of Blood album, and it ain't over yet.
An undisputably solid effort that finds the band moving in a slightly new direction, I put the Weaponized Wisdom Stamp of Approval on this record. Give it a listen if you're a fan of classic metal with a modern twist. Or listen to it and become a fan of classic metal with a modern twist. Either way, give it a listen.
Rating: 8.6 Orc Warriors / 10