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Here Waits 3 Inches of Rock - 77%

Feast for the Damned, August 12th, 2019

Imagine the situation: You are in a power metal band and you are already 3 full-lengths into your career. The first album wasn't refined enough, but the sophomore is a cult classic. On the latest album, you were experimenting with your sound, but it wasn't even close to being as good as you wanted it to be. Where do you go from here? Well, the ideal choice would be going back to the 2nd album's sound. Luckily the guys at 3 Inches of Blood were thinking logically and tried their best to make an album sound like Advance and Vanquish did, but there is one TINY bit of problem. Jamie Hooper, the sound of the band's unique take on power metal has left the band.

The only way I can imagine the way they replaced him is that they weren't even trying to find a worthy replacement and just pointed at each other asking if they could do harsh vocals for more than 10 seconds or not and somehow the guitarist managed to pull out an astonishing 13.8 seconds thus he got the role of the new vocalist. So the fact that the replacement isn't even half as good Hooper was is obvious, but they probably figured it out pretty soon and realized they can't replicate Advance and Vanquish so they tried something different.

The metalcore elements that were present on the previous full-length are nowhere to be found. This is a good sign in my book already, but the empty gaps that they created were quickly filled in with some classic heavy metal and hard rock elements. The perfect example for this would be Preacher's Daughter which if it wasn't for Cam Pipes's sharp voice would sound like a Deep Purple song straight from the 70s with some extras.

If there is one thing that the band has been good at for the past 3 full-lengths (yes, even on the otherwise trash debut) is making an absolutely monstrous opening track. Battles and Brotherhood is everything you would want a 3 Inches of Blood song to be. The riff is catchy yet it doesn't go easy on your neck. I found myself constantly headbanging even before the chorus (which is probably the best chant-along kind of chorus that the band has ever written).

What I really like about this album is the fact that they clearly knew that they can't use harsh vocals as often as they used to since it would sound nothing like they did previously. So instead of having the harsh vocals duel with the clean vocals delivered from Cam Pipes, they function as backing vocals with a few brief moments to shine on their own.

Regardless of all the positive things about this album, this is nowhere near the quality of the sophomore release. While it starts out really strong, it slowly goes downhill. While the album until Preacher's Daughter goes on a full-on frenzy with its insanely catchy riffs (dare I say that Fierce Defender is actually that good that it wouldn't be out of place next to Advance and Vanquish songs?), but then you get 3 filler songs. While all of them have their moments they fail to stand out enough that I would go back for them after a few listens. All of Them Witches is a song with slightly worse quality than the first 5, but it still managed to be a great song with the all-around more power metal than Deep Purpleaproach. The last 2 songs on the album (the instrumental and Executon Tank) are just all around too much of something that we had enough of. They end up being boring. Even though the last song has some pretty nice riffs and licks, the chemistry between the vocals and the instruments are nowhere to be found.

Overall this album improves a lot of things if we compare it to the previous one. It takes the right direction but doesn't execute the ideas flawlessly. Luckily at the moment of me writing this (a decade later), I can safely say that the band still had something up their sleeves. A little something called Long Live Heavy Metal, but I am getting ahead of myself...

The highlights of the album are Battles and Brotherhood, Rock in Hell, and Fierce Defender.