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Large Step Backwards IMO - 60%

WingsOfBlack, March 31st, 2012

Before I start, I'd like to point out that I'm a big fan of 3IOB and have all of their albums. That being said, this one was a big disappointment. I've always loved their style and sound, which to me was a perfect blend of newer metals and older metal like the '80s. But after all of their other albums and even the current album, Long Live Heavy Metal, this one just left a bland taste in my mouth.

For starters, the recording quality itself sounds so much worse than the last 2 albums by quite a bit, which to me is odd since usually bands make more money as they go and can afford better quality sound. The production just sounds like its straight out of the era of Black Sabbath while their previous records sound much cleaner and clearer. The vocals especially sound recorded and sung much worse, and it almost sounds like he's singing through a fan instead of belting out those crisp, clear highs that I'm used to. The guitars and drums are much more "outdated" and somewhat muffled, making the whole album less heavy and crushing by several notches. Even the heaviest song on the album, "Call of the Hammer", is less heavy than almost any other song they have to date.

Secondly, the songwriting itself has the same "outdated" feel to it as the recording quality. Like I already stated, I always felt they had a perfect mix of old and new sounds of metal, but this album was just pushed 90% over to the old metal side and there's very little new metal sound mixed in to balance it out. The drums are often pretty plain and even have tambourine in a couple places to get more of a feel for the old days. The guitars are pretty bland as well if you ask me, sounding like it could have been written by a rock band like Jet. Other than a few moments of newer metal, I wouldn't be surprised to even hear this on some rock radio station.

Lastly are the lyrics. While some are okay and tolerable, the rest seem cringe-worthy and very cliche. Lyric-wise, this album seems almost like a tribute to the old days instead of something new. Compared to their previous works with grand storytelling and epic tales woven into songs, this album just is pretty boring and cliche in most cases, and comes complete with a rock anthem called "Rock In Hell".

Overall, I am very disappointed and am considering trading this album back in for store credit at the record store.

Highlights:
-All of Them Witches
-Fierce Defender (mainly because it was the only song that really had storytelling in it).

Could do with out:
-Pretty much this whole album.

If you like their previous works as much as I do, this album may not be your cup of tea. If you're new to 3IOB, I'd recommend "Advance and Vanquish" or "Fire Up The Blades", personally.

Cutting ties with a formerly doomed path. - 75%

hells_unicorn, March 4th, 2012

To just come right out and say it, 3 Inches Of Blood and Roadrunner Records parting ways was the greatest thing that could have happened to the former. Not only did it end what could have been a disastrous trend of continuing the latent metalcore tendencies that were creeping into their sound on “Fire Up The Blades”, but it also removed a false impression that many had due to the associations that came with that label that they were a closet metalcore band. Having said this, there are still a handful of issues that are still dogging the band to this day, but by the time 2009 rolled around, despite losing the last co-founding member of the band Jamie Hooper and his hardcore shouts, this band found itself back on track to fight the battle at Helm’s Deep all over again.

The first noticeable change from previous efforts that leaps out of “Here Waits Thy Doom” is a much more ambitious song set. Up until this point, most of this band’s work had consisted of parroting the short, radio-friendly character of the very early NWOBHM outfits, often times coming in well under the 3 minute mark and keeping the song structures quite limited. Here the band embraces the epic aspects of Dickinson era Iron Maiden to its fullest extent, while also continuing to explore the faster, more frenzied influences that certain bands were taking up that transitioned them into speed and thrash territory. But catchiness is still the band’s aim, as the likes of “Rock In Hell” and “Preacher’s Daughter” (the latter sounding dangerously close to the more rock infused work of early Saxon) have unavoidable sing along value, though perhaps not to the point of inspiring most to make a failed attempt at channeling the shriek-drenched, King Diamond meets Udo character of Cam Pipes’ vocal style.

The only really overt Persian flaw to hold this thing back a bit is the drum work of the newly recruited Ash Pearson, whose metalcore background comes through primarily in the sound of his snare drum. I’ve never fully gotten the appeal of that popping, overly sustained sound that so many bands in the current metalcore scene love so much, but it doesn’t fit in very well with what is otherwise a very traditional sounding NWOBHM with a bit of speed/thrash that could have been released in 1986. It only becomes an annoyance whenever there’s a snare roll, which is only moderately frequent occurrence. This is offset a bit by the fact that new toneless growler and guitarist Justin Hagberg has a more reserved vocal style, reminiscent of a number of occasional barkers that chime in on power metal albums from the late 90s that incorporated them.

All in all, this is largely a pretty enjoyable listen, one that isn’t quite as obvious in its worship of the past as a number of newer old school metal revivalists like White Wizzard and Battle Beast, but still very much a band that will often remind of those days where faded jeans and leather was the staple of a rebel. A few songs actually punch through the mist of mere adequacy such as “Call Of The Hammer” in its speeding, thrash infused glory, and “At The Foot Of The Great Glacier” for a similarly wicked yet somewhat slower riff set, and qualify as new classics, but most of what is on here generally tends to be less outwardly impressive and more towing the line. But hey, if they just got their drummer to loosen the snare a bit for a slightly flatter sound that is more conducive to their faster material, they’d be in even greater shape.

Waiter! There's Weaksauce On My Album! - 70%

Slasher666, October 23rd, 2011

After I listened to 3IOB's album "Advance and Vanquish" I hungered for more, I needed more of the intensity, the raw power and the classic Lord of the Rings vibe. After searching for a while I finally found it: Here Waits Thy Doom! I was thrilled beyond belief, I was ready to get fucking pumped, and then the happy moment comes to an end right after the first two songs. It was like biting into a very stale piece of bread, bland and unpredictable. I'm not saying it was a complete disappointment, 3IOB fans, bear with me because there's more. I was completely stumped for a while: what happened to Jamie Hooper? Where was the old fashioned power? The intensity?

I later learned that the line-up had changed, Jamie Hooper was no longer the secondary vocalist and their bad ass drummer from "Vanquish" was gone as well, the bassist died and most of their band power was gone. It was the same band but a different style. After listening to "Battles and Brotherhood" (a cheesy, dungeons and dragons-like song) and "Rock in Hell", the next song came in: "Silent Killer", this wasn't that bad either, it had some juicy riffs in there, and I still had my hopes up. Then came "Fierce Defender", and then I was like: "okay, what is this?"

Think of it this way: 3 Inches of Blood is there, the skill is there but the intensity like you'd find on "Vanquish" had completely disappeared, as if it never existed on the album. In terms of distortion in power (I'm talking about the album sound as a whole here) it's very weak and flat, nothing exciting really, just an album you can listen to and go: "meh, whatever". Simply put, it's nothing special. Sure, Cam Pipes delivers the same old vocals and I must admit Justin Hagberg is an awesome guitarist as much as that other guy, Shane Clark. It's just not the same 3IOB I'd expected them to be, they seem to be deteriorating from their original sound into something else, something softer. The distortion is weak from the guitars, the drums...hell, it's weak on everything except Pipes' vocals and that's just about it.

I'll admit that this album is fun to listen to once in a while, "All Of Them Witches" seems to be the only powerful song on this album in its entirety and it's good for an occasional listen, but not for a full-on weekly mosh. If you want this album then go ahead, no one's stopping you, however if you want my recommendation then listen to their previous albums like "Vanquish" and "Blades", you'll find power there, that's a guarantee. This album is basically a cake that's meant to be perfect, but just as it's served it slips and hits the floor.

Always standing tall!! - 90%

Xyrth, February 21st, 2011

Well, well, I bet most of this bands detractors must be now biting their bragging tongues. And if they’re not, they fucking should! For the canadian ensemble has proven to be one of the (if not THE) most powerful revivalist bands out there. I mean, why do bands like White Wizzard or Cauldron have received so much praise and attention when we have this guys doing it way better and showing album per album that they’re the real deal? However they’ve been mercilessly criticized for playing and glorifying the music they love and even tagged of being “core”. Bullshit I say! But now that they’ve got ridden of their most bitched-about flaw, the voice of founding member Jamie Hooper, there shouldn’t be anything keeping them from achieving the acclaim they deserve. And this, they’re fourth full-length, testifies that.

Here Waits Thy Doom could have been more aptly named: “Here Waits Thy Old School Power/Thrash (With a Great Deal of NWOBHM)”. Ok, that’s quite a long and ridiculous title. Anyway, it describes the sounds you’ll discover here. And when I say “old school” it actually means pretty old, right from the time when the power and thrash genres where in diapers. So if you’re expecting some unlikely mixture of Angra and Overkill you might end up disappointed. However, if your looking for an tasty brew of Maiden or Tygers of Pan Tang melodies, proto-thrash riffage ala Diamond Head, a fast but not hyper-fast rhythmic section, and extremely stand-out soaring vocals, this might just be for you. Original? Not quite. Done before? Well, yes. But not quite like this.

First of all, let my state that is my belief (backed up by the blessing of the Metal God, Mr. Rob Halford) that Cam Pipes is a helluva singer, and a criminally underrated one. His high-pitched vocals, with its slightly strange and particular reverb, make him tremendously recognizable. He easily stands-out amongst the crowds of classic metal, clean-singing frontmen out there. And like the Metal God himself, I just can’t think of anyone that sounds like Pipes, not even remotely close. That’s such an advantage this band possesses. Many consider his style over-the-top and cheesy. I agree with those accusations, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t kicks enormous ass. His voice alone is reason enough for listening to this band. Though not the only one.

Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark are the guitar team since 2004, and as usual they do a pretty decent job here. It’s not particularly original, but at this stage of the game we know that we’re not looking for originality here. Otherwise, we should be looking elsewhere. Anyway, for this record they provide us a vast array of good ol’ headbangeable riffs and melodic soloing. They’re melodies range from good and memorable (“Rock in Hell”, “Fierce Defender”) to a bit repetitive, like the melodic break on “Silent Killer” which drags on for a little to long perhaps and loses punch because of that. Both musicians also share bass duties here, and while it doesn’t stands out, it is done in an efficient way, and its pretty audible.

Also worth mentioning is that Hagberg also replaced the greatly loathed Hooper at the harsh vocals department. He uses a gruffer growl, a bit lower than his predecessor. Not a big deal anyway, since he only accentuates some of the lyrics, while Pipes is the focal point. But that’s not a bad thing also, since a small dosage of harsh vocals is, and has always been, part of this band signature features.

Ash Pearson did a great job too for Here Waits Thy Doom. No easy task, since he had to fill Alexei’s Rodriguez shoes. And while Ash is perhaps not as fast or flashy as Alexei, he is a more than capable drummer. He does play in a more traditional, classic heavy/power metal fashion, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t knows how to thrash the hell out of his kit. From time to time he’ll surprise us with quite fast double bass patterns, but even his slow, simple patterns are quite enjoyable.

Another change 3 Inches of Blood made for this album, well, is that they switched to Century Media, leaving Roadrunner, and this is most evident in the production. Here Waits Thy Doom has a true vintage feel, unlike any of their previous albums. The drums and bass sound really organic. Perhaps they wanted to move away from all the criticism they received for letting Joey Jordison produce “Fire Up the Blades”. And though personally I think Jordison work wasn’t that bad, maybe a bit too crispy and modern, this production here better suits the band, and pushes them closer to the aesthetics of their NWOBHM heroes of old.

So the songs, yeah! Well, we have a few three minute thrashing ragers, the best of which is “The Call of the Hammer”, one of the first songs released as a teaser for this album. Power/thrash straight to the jugular! Then, we also can enjoy some 4 to 5 minute metal rocking anthems; of which my favorites are the magnificent “Fierce Defender” with its charging battle riffs and the ballsy, soon-to-be metal classic “Rock in Hell”. Will you be there to rock in Hell? Well, goddamn it I will!

I also totally rock to the three “epics” of the album, “Preacher’s Daughter” with its hard rocking chorus, almost Deep Purple-esque feel, organ included (I love when this guys add an organ, like in the previous album’s “Trial of Champions”), “The Execution Tank”, the seven minute thrashing closer, and one of my 3”OB tracks, the superb “All of Them Witches”, a full-on NWOBHM worship with great vocals (including a bone-chilling Pipes Witch scream!) and melodic riffs that will be forever embedded in your brain. There’s also a brief acoustic interlude, nice but ultimately irrelevant as these interludes usually are.

Heed not the naysayers! This is pure and unadulterated metal for true metalheads that can see beyond the misleading accusations of this being “core”, “mainstream”, “a joke band” or whatever. Seek it, enjoy it, and embrace it! The High Inquisitor has decreed!

3 Inches of Blood - Here Waits Thy Doom - 80%

Radagast, November 19th, 2009

3 Inches of Blood, for me, were always a band that were a source of frustration, an example of unfulfilled potential. Since I got into them after hearing their first single - the stupidly excellent Destroy the Orcs - on Bruce Dickinson's radio show back in 2003, I was continually hoping they would improve, almost willing them to get better after the subsequent albums failed to completely live up to my initial excitement.

They always suffered from two big stumbling blocks, of course, the first of which was a basic lack of songwriting chops. Their albums, regardless of the ever-rotating personnel, tended to each spawn a couple of real metal masterclasses which kept the company of a lot of other more modest songs. Though yet to write a bad song, the constant high-speed galloping style they rigorously adhered to resulted in many of the less inspired tracks, cut off from a voice of their own, simply folding into one another.

The most common criticism 3IOB ever faced though, was an obvious one; Jamie Hooper. Despite being one of the founders, his presence in the band always seemed a bit hard to fathom, a bit like an experiment that somehow found its way into the world at large, and managed to hang around despite making not a great deal of sense.

His yelping hardcore vocal style is obviously very much at odds with the more traditional approach of the rest of the crew, but despite his voice generally being just plain annoying, there were times when his exchanges with falsetto wailer Cam Pipes added and extra bit of depth to a fairly limited band.

Of course, they couldn't just have him standing in the background barking every now and again as a point of emphasis, and the band's efforts to give him and Pipes an equal share of the spotlight led to continuous, chaotic vocal duelling that only went on to futher worsen their problem with variation, robbing the songs of any hooks

This lack of diversity was only intensified by the production job on their last album, Fire Up the Blades. Their then-label, Roadrunner, had always seemed to want the street cred of having an 'old skool' band on their books but weren't keen on the sticky problem of actually trying to market a traditional metal band to their target teenymosher audience. Always keen to big up how X-TREEM 3IOB were, they pushed things even further on that album by putting one of their golden boys, Joey Jordison, in the producer's chair (even sitting in on the writing process), and the pro-tools happy, everything-flatter-than-everything-else sound he inflicted smothered the album into an exhausting drag.

But then everything seemed to change all at once - all of a sudden they were free from Roadrunner's oily mits, and Hooper - sitting out touring after doing in his vocal chords - was out of the band permanently with very little fanfare, guitarist Justin Hagberg taking over the throat-splitting duties.

With new hosts Century Media - not always known for being the most caring, sharing of labels, it has to be said - apparently giving them free reign to record whatever the hell they wanted, the remaining members have finally tapped a vein of creativity, and in Here Waits Thy Doom have produced a fourth album that at long last makes it look like the potential they once showed may be fulfilled.

Under the weathered eye of Jack Endino, Pipes, Hagberg and Shane Clark have explored their newfound freedom by writing a crop of songs that delve further back into their influences (the 70s being namechecked along with the 80s now) and can stand on their own two feet as individual tunes with their own distinct identites.

Hooper's departure, and the decision to replace him from within their own ranks, has led to a bigger change in the way things are run than would superficially appear to be the case - Pipes is now very much the frontman, and with Hagberg keeping himself busy on guitar duties they have a harsh vocalist content to perform a secondary role to the main man.

This new arrangment is as much a breath of fresh air for the band as it is for the weary listener - gone are the clamouring vocal battles that cluttered the songs, and the music benefits endlessly from being given more room to express itself when Pipes isn't singing. The songs now boast that elusive variety, with styles that wouldn't suit the screeching vocals of the erstwhile Hooper now properly explored.

Opener Battles and Brotherhood is fairly standard (though no less good for it) power metal, but right from the second track, Rock in Hell - a NWOBHM-ish effort that features some Saxon boogie on the upbeat riffs - the difference is apparent.

On top of all that, Hagberg's vocals are quite simply a vast improvement over his predecessor, rolling, fluid growls that fit surprisingly well with the music (though this is also down to their more sparing, careful use).

There are still plainly visible limitations to be observed - mainly that Pipes constant falsetto remains a little tiring, when a more restrained approach would benefit some of the songs, but the band do well with what they have. His shrieking on the groovy 70s-flavoured Preacher's Daughter is pretty ridiculous, but the song is good enough to survive it, the organ playing from Hagberg and a silly gang vocal section among the highlights.

Elsewhere, Call of the Hammer is a short, sharp burst of thrash metal where Hagberg's vocals are cleverly utilised on a sparse chorus, and Execution Tank, the longest song they have yet written, finally encapsulates that 'evil' vibe they have often tried and failed to latch onto in the past. The long, instrumental intro builds suitable menace, and Pipes' vocals are a perfect fit for ever-escalating chorus.

In between the more rock-centric songs and the galloping power/speed metal they are most known for, a bit of room has also been left for a venture into more epic territory. The spirit of adventure is palpable in the swaying chorus to At the Foot of the Great Glacier, while the despairing lead melodies of All of them Witches imbue a forboding atmosphere.

Being so different to the album that predeced it, this new beginning for 3 Inches of Blood is almost like a second debut for the band. New label, new vocalist, new approach to songs and even a strange bit of cover art that gives a wide bearth to the cartoonish style expected of them, it is a clean break in every sense.

With no intereference from a label trying to force a square peg into a round hole and a leaner line-up that isn't sabotaging itself in the name of fairness, 3 Inches of Blood may finally be ready for the great leap forward. Certainly this is their strongest, most varied and all-round listenable record to date, and after several years of flirting with the idea, it may at long last be time to prove themselves as serious contenders.

(Originally written for http://www.rockontheweb.co.uk)

Riffs, riffs..and then some.. - 89%

BudDa, September 30th, 2009

We all know this story. Major member of a band leaves. Band is forced to cope without him. Sometimes, they recruit someone else to feel the void, other times they just find it within themselves-that spark..release the next record and the rest, as they as, is fucking history. Here Waits Thy Doom (HWTD) is one of those records the only difference being; 3 Inches of Blood have been without Hooper for quite sometime now. Actually, dating back to the bands touring in order to support their previous record-Fire Up The Blades, Jamie Hooper was forced to sit out the whole tour cause of his voice. He is no longer with the band but 3 Inches of Blood have had ample time to reflect on their next course of action prior to and also during the recording of HWTD as whether to continue with the harsh vocals or scrap them entirely from their music.

Unlike most band who have or would have gone out in search for a replacement vocalist, this band did not. They assigned the part of Jamie to Justin-the band's guitarist, tweaked their sound a bit and voila! Here Waits Thy Doom!

While previously one would be somewhat confused with the kind of metal-subgenre 3IoB play, on this one, it is pretty straight forward. Unabashedly power metal..the kind Manowar would be proud of. Why, even some of the themes are so Manowar-ish. Kill for Metal, Die for Metal, Metal, Metal..METAL!! Given the circumstances, more room has obviously opened up in the vocal department for Cam Pipes to explore and boy, does he utilize this to the maximum. Of course it also helps having magnificently written riffs and solos to sing too. The first 3 songs on this are simply classics. Shane and Justin relentlessly churn out riff after riff and solo after solo. The riffs are raw, more melodic than their previous effort but also extremely enjoyable and catchy too.

In Here Waits Thy Doom, there seems to be a special consideration given to riff construction. No repetitive riffs here which is saying a lot on an album that is saturated with them. Each song seems to have a distinct riff. A well crafted riff played to perfection. Even the solos, follow this kind of trend and I fear going into details might render this review way too long.

Justin is obviously no Jamie but that doesn't mean that this album lacks the aggression that the band have been known for..Call of the Hammer and At the Foot of the Great Glacier..anybody?!(with the later being one of my favorites off this album). Rather than the duels that we have been accustomed to having, on this one, Justin seems more of, if I may say, complimenting Pipes. Hes vocals are not as harsh as those of Jamie, actually, his vocals sound more like those of Miland Petrozza. He though does chip in with the harsh lines where you felt Pipes vocals where becoming a bit too monotonous.

I bet, fans of 3IoB, when listening to this will always kinda anticipate Jamie's harsh vocals around the corner. Only that they don't surface (trust me, I waited). But thats just a small bummer cause these guys have outdone themselves, defied critics and made possibly the record of their lives and probably the power metal record of 2009 in Here Waits Thy Doom!