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Long Live Heavy Metal

Century Media (2012)
Rating: 7.5/10

With an album title like Long Live Heavy Metal, it’s quite obvious that the lyrical themes aren’t going to encompass civil unrest in the Middle East, or deal with the delicate fragilities of the inner human psyche. And a quick glance at the song titles reaffirm this – opener ‘Metal Woman’ is hardly going to tarnish Trent Reznor’s reputation as a lyrical master of misery.

It even seems strange that, in 2012, being proud to be heavy metal is considered cool and not something to be ridiculed, even by other factions within the metal community. Canada’s 3 Inches Of Blood are well aware of this, and with their metal beliefs sewn onto their denim sleeves (by their mums, probably) they have delivered their fifth full-length release of their career, their second for Century Media.

All of the elements that have warmed these Canucks in the hearts of metal fans across all genres are all present, and with some other elements thrown into the mix Long Live Heavy Metal may even threaten to appeal to an even broader spectrum. The aforementioned ‘Metal Woman’ gets the ball rolling and plays it safe, delivering the expected Judas Priest homage (Cam Pipes’ vocals are nearly off the scale in places) and a twin guitar attack Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing would no doubt very much approve of.

The likes of ‘Leather Lord’ add a bit more pace and eagerness, and incorporating glass-gargling vocals that verge on straight death metal. It is also interesting to note how much better this band sound now that original growler Jamie Hooper is no longer in the fold (guitarist Justin Hagberg provides back up snarls) which allows Cam to really shine, and any fans of his unmistakable style will revel in his performance here. The album then throws an unexpected spanner in the works with the instrumental ‘Chief And The Blade’, which is basically an acoustic folk number that hints at what is yet to come.

‘Dark Messenger’ also has a folk feel to it before the riffs kick in, and displays melody and maturity that may silence their critics who have written 3 Inches Of Blood off as a second-rate Priest clone. The album’s unexpected highlight comes near the end with the epic seven-and-a-half minute ‘Men Of Fortune’, which allows the band to really flex their muscles and show just what they’re really capable of; a Helloween-esque epic incorporating melodic passages, neat bass lines from former Strapping Young Lad / Fear Factory man Byron Stroud, and an almost proggy feel displaying that they have eggs in other baskets as well.

This album may not set the metal world on fire, but is nevertheless an enjoyable, colourful romp that will serve as an ideal soundtrack at campsites at any metal fest. Long live 3 Inches Of Blood!

Neil Not

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