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Even though 3 Inches of Blood had success in 2004 with their second record, Advance and Vanquish, they are a band that really emerged from the shadows in 2009. Their third studio effort Here Waits Thy Doom caught on quickly and the bands name began spreading like wildfire. Though 3 Inches of Blood only recently gained popularity, they've been formed since 1999 and are Canadian born, known for their fantasy themes, party style humor, and love for hockey and beer. Vocalist Cam Pipes even dons his hockey jersey at some live shows during the sport season to show his support and love for Canadian culture and heritage. Long Live Heavy Metal is easily one of the most anticipated albums of 2012, and since its release the band have been touring relentlessly to support it. So, what's in store for the listener?
The first thing that should be made clear is that Justin Hagberg plays bass on this album, just as he did in Here Waits Thy Doom and the EP Anthems for the Victorious. This is becoming a regular routine for Hagberg, however his primary and live instrument still remains as the guitar. He also contributes largely to the vocals as well, providing a deep harsh growl alongside high-pitched powerhouse Cam Pipes. Hagberg's vocals sound more matured in Long Live Heavy Metal, and he sings more here than on any previous material. Pipes and Hagberg vocally team up in an abundance of songs, including "Metal Woman, "My Sword Will Not Sleep" and "Men of Fortune", fluidly alternating phrases or adding the two styles together so that they clash thunderously against one another.
While the opening song "Metal Woman" was made into a video and has attention grabbing lyrics, a groovy bass line, and crushing drums, "My Sword Will Not Sleep" is where the album really blows up. The bass comes to the front of the mix and starts dominating the guitar, the two have a rough back and forth battle for rights to the lead, all building up to an intensified experience while Cam Pipes is blasting his powerful, energetic vocals, proclaiming:
I will have my revenge!
You'll die by my hand!
There is a great use of echo and reverb on the vocal track which enforces their importance. Finally, the song ends with a drum roll solo that paves the way for a major heavy metal blowout where all of the members wail on their respective instruments for about thirty seconds. Cliche? Yes. Fun? Yes. 3 Inches of Blood know what heavy metal is all about, and make it well known that they do.
Two of the tracks are purely instrumental, the first being "Chief and the Blade". This song at first appears to be out of place, comprised of a heavy Native American influence, but it helps to keep the light and airy overall feel to Long Live Heavy Metal afloat. The same can be said for the other track, "One for the Ditch", but without any Native American influence, the closing track is pure power metal in all of its glory and ends the album on a high note.
"Leave It On the Ice" pays tribute to the bands love of hockey in a very violently descriptive way and is built from hellishly fast galloping and screaming solos. "My Sword Will Not Sleep", "Look Out", "4000 Torches", "Men of Fortune" and "One for the Ditch" are the highlights here, and it is also good to see the group continuing the story of "Upon the Boiling Sea" which was started on Advance and Vanquish.
Yeah, sure there are some cheesy moments full of heavy metal cliche, but what would heavy metal be without those cliches? Long Live Heavy Metal pays tribute to women, epic battles, dragons, riches, and all of the things that have made metal what it is today and it does it in a stylistic manner. Here's to hoping that 3 Inches of Blood will remain at their current line up, all of the members work together wonderfully and know how to use each other musically to one anothers advantage. If you don't mind some cheese in your metal, this is a strong recommendation.
- Villi Thorne