British Columbia’s 3 Inches of Blood have returned with another batch of modern heavy metal tunes clearly rooted in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal of the early 1980s.
Leadoff track “Metal Woman” starts off with a majestic metal guitar intro before the bass line takes control and Ash Pearson begins to propel things along on drums. The lyrics describe a headbanging vixen. “Her spikes will slash your skin/ your mind is full of sin/ she bears a fierceness that you'll underestimate/ don't disrespect her or you she'll devastate.”
“My Sword Will Not Sleep” continues the band’s tradition of lyrics inspired by ancient combat. “Day by day I follow you along your path/ your allies felled by my steel/ my hate is endless, it knows no bounds/ all of your lands are set ablaze.”
“The Chief and the Blade” is a short, melodic instrumental that offers some balance to the heavier fare on the album.
“Dark Messenger” begins with strumming on acoustic guitar then an electric guitar kicks in. Guitarists Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark offer some nice harmony work. Hagberg’s deep, gruff vocals offer quite a contrast to Cam Pipes’ high-pitched vocals. This band is often compared to Iron Maiden, and that band’s influence is clearly evident here.
“Look Out” pays homage to the late Ronnie James Dio, both lyrically and musically. The lyrics refer to the Rainbow song “Man on the Silver Mountain” and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” “He slayed the dragon each and every night/ it was his right/ a king among his kind/ he shared his wisdom even to the last in line.” The first two minutes sound straight from the first or second Dio album. Then organ appears and the guitar goes in a Richie Blackmore direction, suggesting early Rainbow. In a few minutes, the band touches on the key facets of Dio’s contributions to heavy metal. A fitting tribute.
“Leave It On The Ice” combines combat imagery with hockey, the most popular sport of the band’s homeland. The music is fast, bordering on speed metal, before shifting through several tempo changes. The lyrics fit the intensity of hockey. “Scream along the boards, hard and fast/ a goal in sight you’re almost there/ standing in your way, a gang of foes/ there to take you down.”
“Die for Gold (Upon the Boiling Sea IV)” is a good example of the band’s compositional skills.
“Storming Juno” takes things in a historical direction with lyrics about D-Day in 1944. “Advance across the channel towards impending doom/ a chance you may not live to see another day/ the beach is getting closer.”
“Men Of Fortune” is a long tune, clocking in at 7:35. The first few minutes the tempo is fast. Then it slows, with organ making an appearance and the guitars getting melodic. After five minutes the pace picks back up.
3 Inches Of Blood have demonstrated some growth. Pipes is now clearly the lead singer. Hagberg, who had shared lead vocal duties, now plays guitar, and his vocals are mostly of a background nature. Overall this evolution has worked out well.
People who are not much into metal may not care for this band, but anyone with at least some knowledge of music must admit these guys are great musicians. This is real metal for real metalheads.
3 Inches Of Blood plays Neumo’s in Seattle at 7 p.m. on June 15.