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3 Inches of Blood - Here Waits Thy Doom LP
War On Music
Like oh so many heavy metal bands armed with a certain vision but no realistic commercial potential, 3 Inches of Blood's brush with the big time nearly killed them. After playing a vital but largely unacknowledged role in reinvigorating the art of traditional, non-ironic heavy metal and thrash, replete with monster tales and battle lore, via their cult-approved independent 2002 debut, Battlecry Under a Winter Sun, the Vancouver sextet was smartly snapped up by Roadrunner Records. There followed two creatively laudable but financially underperforming LPs -- 2004's Advance and Vanquish and 2007's Fire Up the Blades -- at least in the eyes of the former heavy metal stronghold, since gone "corporate rock crazy" due to the unprecedented success of Nickelback. In Roadrunner's defense, their efforts to "professionalize" 3 Inches of Blood through grueling promotional campaigns and roadwork also exposed the inability of several bandmembers to "cut it," so after being dropped in 2008, it was an almost unrecognizable 3IOB that recorded this fourth long-player, Here Waits Thy Doom, for esteemed indie metal label Century Media. Among the key changes (new drummer, two guitarists subbing on bass in the studio), surely the most noteworthy is the departure of co-lead vocalist Jamie Hooper, whose coarse shrieks had heretofore matched the high-pitched singing of Cam Pipes almost word for word, but which now leaves him standing pretty much alone, front and center, backed only by the occasional supporting croaks from guitarist Justin Hagberg. Longtime fans will also notice that the band's typically thrash-infused war cries ("Battles and Brotherhood," "Call of the Hammer," "Execution Tank") and steroid-pumped modernizations of the Maiden/Priest dual-harmony gallop ("Silent Killer," "Fierce Defender," "All of Them Witches") are now making room for an increasing number of tunes steeped in a more traditional, rock-based songwriting approach (e.g. "Rock in Hell," "Snake Fighter"). This trend had already been hinted at on 3IOB's previous album, but no one could have foreseen such a radical departure as the almost bluesy "Preacher's Daughter," which marries an unusually deliberate tempo to atypically "of this world" lyrics and eventually builds to an anthemic singalong chorus! Obviously, 3IOB are rolling with the changes and trying to evolve their sound, but the truth is that most all of their familiar sonic hallmarks are still delivered here with poise and power. And while there are several other quality bands competing in the same extreme retro-metal killing ground (Skeletonwitch, Black Cobra, etc.), 3 Inches of Blood will always possess a certain advantage so long as Cam Pipes is the gladiator helming their chariot, with his as yet unchallenged Rob Halford-meets-Udo Dirkschneider vocals.