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Sect of the White Worm - 69%

Spatupon, August 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Independent

I'm not the biggest fan of power metal in general. Most of the time, for me, it comes across as trying too hard, cheesy, uninspired and just flat out blank. Bands such as Dragonforce, which sound so vapid as their impact on heavy metal reinforces this idea of the vapidness and commercial essence of power and old-school epic heavy metal. 3 Inches of Blood has always been one of those bands which everyone talks about, but you never really bother to check them out. Unfortunately for me, based on the few releases that I've heard thus far from this band, I have to say that I've been missing out on a lot of pretty cool music. This extended play showcases the musicianship of the band at their earliest stage. When this piece of work came out, it seemed like it was a sort of relic. A new release which mimics the spirit of the old. If you didn't bother to check when this ep came out, you would have thought this release was surely a 1980s forgotten NWOBHM release. Indeed, you wouldn't be wrong.

What we're presented here on this extended play is around a quarter of an hour of pure Iron Maiden-worship. The guitarists seem pretty infatuated with some techniques which Iron Maiden made so popular, like galloping and playing single noted riffs at different octaves alternately by different guitarists. The bass lends itself quite well in the overall architecture of the release. It provides a solid backbone to the whole release and its omnipresence really gives this release much more of an interesting edge. The short nature of this extended play really gives this album an advantage of not dragging out, like most power metal releases do. Take for example some Sonata Arctica songs, they drag on and drag on to the point of becoming unbearable for me as mainly a black metal listener. That fact alone can make or break an album, depending on the attention span and dedication of the fanbase. The drums are played in a very basic fashion, the way that was so common with most NWOBHM drummers at that time. However, we have to take into consideration that this extended play came out during the year preceding the new millennium. The vocalist has a very interesting voice. I don't know with whom I can draw any comparisons, although I could if I tried very hard. He has a fairly high-pitched voice, but the gnarly, over-stretched vocals. The voice of Rob Halford comes the closest to emulate the voice of this guy.

The pacing of this extended play is pretty standard. Every song maintains a mid-tempo beat, only infrequently bursting in some maniacal riffing. However, that is very wrong, and unsuspectingly, this piece of music also contains a sort of a ballad which is called "The Sun Rises Over The Fjords". I think this is pretty much the most memorable song on this EP, while the rest are fairly forgettable. The nice clean guitar passages add some depth to the whole in your face old-school metal personality this extended play is filled with. This EP has definitely put 3 Inches of Blood on my radar. Although this is not the most technical and sophisticated piece of power metal work out there on the market, it is played with a level of fluency and dedication which is enough to impress me. I recommend any Judas Priest and Iron Maiden fan to check this band out.

Onward to Cheesehalla! - 60%

Xyrth, August 12th, 2015

3 Inches of Blood has come a long way since they released this tiny EP in 2001, but one thing remains true to this very day: it is one of those bands that you either love or you hate. For me, it has always been the first option. Their over the top vocal attack and metal as fuck attitude caught me off guard one night at a metal bar in Mexico City, when Cam Pipes/Jamie Hooper and their bandmates throwback power/thrash riffs exploded from the speakers and the video of “Goatriders Horde” appeared on the TV screens scattered on the bar's corners. I checked both Fire Up the Blades and Advance and Vanquish and they sounded pretty legit and solid to me. I also read negative stuff about them, like Jamie's vocals make them a metalcore band (a preposterous notion, of course) or the fact the Slipknot's then drummer Joey Jordison was a big fan and produced one of their albums (negative points given by the kvlt trve purists). Of course, I didn't give a retarded mouse's shit about those arguments. For me, it was simple: they rocked hard!

But it took me a while to track down their early material, and we I got it I was not impressed at all… but, on the other hand, I found this stuff to be enjoyable in a campy kind of way. Sect of the White Worm sounds pretty innocent and naïve, which is only logical, as the band was only starting, and if I recall correctly, not all of their then band members took things that seriously either. The title is misleading, as it makes one think they would have included lyrical references to the tale of the Lambton Worm or any of the subsequent works (Bram Stoker's book/the '88 film) inspired by that British folk story, like Dutch melodic black/death band God Dethroned would do with their 2004 release. Truth is, this is their most monotonous work so far, and lyrics are not the exception, rooted exclusively in the Viking metal vibe. So the title is actually one of the most interesting aspects of this EP, but unfortunately, there's no title-track or similarly themed composition. It's all Valhalla, Odin, the North, ice, fjords and stuff.

What we have here are five under-four-minute berserker (wannabe)s that have Manowar levels of cheese but not their compositional skills… well, actually The Lord of Steel compositional skills. All of them are mid-paced epic metal attempts, and the dual vocal assault sounds especially weird on this one, as Cam Pipes and Jamie Hooper sing exactly the same words at the exact same time, making it almost impossible to decipher what they're singing about, the former a poor man's Rob Halford and the later a poor man's Mikael Stanne. This collision of singing styles is an utter mess when spliced, but they would correct that in future releases. As for the guitarists, they're functional in reproducing classic NWOBHM melodies and riffs, though their solos… the solos…. Where are the solos?! The closest to a solo here are a calm breakdown in “Screams of Despair that Stain the Ice” and the final melodies of the closing track. The rhythmic section is basic as fuck as well. The guys just seem to be having fun with their generic riffs and rhythms, not unlike a Rock Band ensemble. They would carry on for their first proper LP though.

I wouldn't pick any stand out pieces here, but “Onward to Valhalla”, with its familiar Maiden-esque galloping, and in particular the merry “Tonight We Rejoice” (their post-battle, victory party number; they would carry on with the tradition in each subsequent album), are the interesting/catchy ones. Closer “The Sun Rises Over the Fjords” has extremely laughable gang shouts and choruses that appear to have been recorded at a Dungeons & Dragons game session. That might be good… or not, depending on your preferences. The poor, almost demo-like production values don't help much, but again, perhaps the best thing to enjoy this material is to not take it too seriously and cherish it for what it is. Better, more serious stuff would come later, with better and more dedicated musicians, but the cheese flavor here, while not pleasant to every metallic palate out there, definitely has its taste for some of us.

It's fun for everyone at worship central! - 70%

lord_ghengis, June 12th, 2010

3 Inches of Blood have always had a question of their seriousness or true authenticity hanging over their head, but it only takes a single listen of their debut EP, Sect of the White Worm to know that this is a serious, if not particularly deep project. This EP has none of the questionable metalcore leanings as their later works, this is the band stripped down to a core of early 80s heavy metal worship and nothing more, and it suits the band perfectly.

What makes this demo stand out from the rest of their discography is just how straightforward it is. Their full lengths have always been hit and miss, with some cool songs, and quite a few which fail to really live up to anything, the songs on this EP are simply too short and too simple to have this happen. Galloping riffs, noodly leads and catchy hooks are all that these energetic 2-3 minute songs permit, and it really suits the band well. There are no metalcore riffs, power chord choruses or excessive use of the hardcore vocal styles or other trendy leanings like their later works, it's all early 80's heavy metal start to finish. Obviously, this is about as fresh as the comedy stylings or Robin Williams, as it really is Judas Priest riffs with Maiden melodies thrown about carelessly, but it makes up for the short coming with an excess of fun.

These songs are happy, fun little numbers which don't show off any particular skills, but will successfully provide you something to headbang along too. Apart from the total and utter unoriginality of it, I can't really think of any reason this would actively anger or repulse any heavy metal fan. The screams are toned down, and when doubled with Pipes' slightly more restrained vocals sound vaguely similar to Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame, if mixed quite a bit lower, with a lot less power. They have less of that straight ahead metalcore style of later vocalists, instead having an almost black metal flavour to them as they are fairly thin and airy, they actually work quite well, in a similar way to early Bal-Sagoth. Pipes, while still having the same voice as later, does actually gain a lot from his low mix, he doesn't sound like a parody, as he occasionally does now, nor does he ever become obnoxious sounding.

The instrumental side of things isn't really impressive as such, the drums in particular are very lifeless, and the bass is negligible. I wouldn't call the riffs great, but they're certainly fun, same goes for the leads and melodies, not anywhere near the standards of their idols, but still full of life and energy.

This isn't great music, but it does everything it sets out to accomplish, fun riffs which call back to the days of Priest and Iron Maiden, catchy melodies and sing along vocal hooks. In this regard, it blows away most of their more famous full lengths, it certainly lacks any minor sense of originality that those releases have, but what the hell, this is retro-heavy metal, staleness comes with the territory.