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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.