Long Live Heavy Metal
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2012 release from the Canadian Metal masochists. 3 Inches Of Blood make their living playing unapologetic, blistering Heavy f*ckin' Metal that immediately goes straight for the jugular with a voracious barrage of intensity. Keeping true to their core and bringing their album title to life, fans can expect a blast of pure metal assured to leave no face un-melted. "All of us have a special feeling about this one. We're more committed than ever to the cause of real, honest, no bullshit Heavy Metal. No trends, no f*cking around!" - vocalist Cam Pipes.
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If it is music with a great deal of variety that you are after, uh...you might as well look elsewhere, as "Long Live Heavy Metal" is a thrash-fest pretty much from start to finish, except, of course, for the inclusion of "Chief And The Blade" (a surreal acoustic interlude), and "One For The Ditch," an instrumental piece that wraps the album up in fittingly epic form with bluegrass-flavored acoustic guitars and melodic leads. "Look Out," which despite being labeled a Ronnie James Dio tribute, actually comes across sounding like an "Ace Of Spades"-era Motorhead b-side, except that it features the above kind of vocals, a piercing solo, and even -- what sounds like -- a new-wavy keyboard solo (!), is one major highlight, as it is propelled by a strong, grungy-sounding bass bottom. And two others include "Leave It On The Ice," which is a surprisingly brutal cut of almost pure Eighties thrash metal with a fountain of chunky, cascading guitar hooks and some fairly thunderous drum blasts; and "Men Of Fortune," a huge, anthemic-chorus'd epic with an extensive maze of guitar harmonies and melodies, and an expansive playing time (it clocks in at passed the seven-and-a-half minute mark.)
But with that said, it is tracks like "Dark Messenger," "Die For Gold (Upon The Burning Sea IV)," and "Storming Juno," that are better representations of the album, as a whole. They are all fiery and propulsive speed metallers with irresistibly hooky, Judas Priest-vs.-Iron Maiden-esque galloping rhythms, catchy, Megadeth-ian chugging, and air-guitar-able shredding (including melodic leads, epic soloing, and twiddly harmonization). But those aren't the record's only standouts, because there are several more. Take the opening "Metal Woman," for one example. It lures the listener in with some harmonic guitar leads and technical bass lines before switching to a deft, up-tempo speed metal gallop iced with Rob Halford-worshipping vocals and anthemic, Iron Maiden-worthy choruses. "My Sword Will Not Sleep" and "Leather Lord" are also noteworthy, as they both anchor brisk and blistering, and nearly buzzsaw-fast riffing and wailing solos with some grumbling bass lines and well-placed double bass thump. (And the latter of these two tunes also features some really memorable vocal patterns, with falsetto singing/screaming offset by surprisingly visceral growls in its choruses.)
As they were on the above-mentioned "Fire Up The Blades," the vocals on this album are pretty much guaranteed to polarize audiences everywhere. This is because they can be viewed one of two ways: a) as fairly grating, and even borderline unlistenable; or b) as a blatant tribute to two of the greatest metal frontmen of all-time, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson. If you choose the latter opinion, then you are in for some very enjoyable listening sessions. And "Long Live Heavy Metal" might lose out to Dragonforce's "The Power Within" for being the best power/speed metal offering that was released in 2012, if you are looking for a piece of old-fashioned, leather-clad, "rock out with your c*** out" hard rock, you could do a lot worse than this album right here.
Why all this backstory? Well, after the more somber and altogether boring semi-blues-metal they put together last album (I've compared them to Judas Priest going in reverse a few times, with Advance and Vanquish being their Painkiller and Here Waits Thy Doom being their Rocka Rolla), they've essentially reinvented the Fire Up the Blades wheel. I swear part of Metal Woman sounds almost exactly like Forest King. I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing, because it's reclaiming what they're good at... I would have rated Fire Up the Blades a 4-star review back then. It's still got a lot of awesome songs, just as this album does... but it never reaches quite the crescendo of Advance and Vanquish, which I must have listened to back-to-back-to-back for hours on end, weeks on end.
If you want more of the same, you can't go wrong with Long Live Heavy Metal. The only thing that really pleases me is the several year gap between this and their last effort, as opposed to groups like Five Finger Death Punch, who keep doing the same thing over and over, year after year.
And if you've never listened to Advance and Vanquish, buy it. NOW.