30 de março de 2012

Banda: Inches Of Blood
Álbum: Long Live Heavy Metal
Ano: 2012
País: Canadá
Estilo: Power Heavy Metal


You can already tell what this album is going to sound like, can’t you? And you would be right, as “Long Live Heavy Metal” pulls out every metal cliché in the book – and some that aren’t – and puts you square back in the early 1980’s with its NWOBHM-isms.

The opening track is called “Metal Woman” and could have come straight off of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, a comment that could be thrown at a multitude of these songs. Singer Cam Pipes comes straight from the Rob Halford/Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens school of bollock-squeezing, high-pitch screams and he barely lets it drop throughout the whole album. Guitarist Justin Hagberg provides harsh vocals at certain points to provide a bit of contrast, most notably on “Leather Lord”, which starts off all Judas Priest-like but throws in a few Iron Maiden guitar harmonies before thrashing itself to a close.

“Chief and the Blade” is a medieval-style folky instrumental that breaks up the intensity before “Dark Messenger” comes crashing in on a wave of power metal aggression and is probably the catchiest song here. ”4000 Torches” has a wonderful stop-start breakdown about two-thirds of the way through that’ll no doubt be a fist-pumping highlight of the live set, but these are all in the first half of the album. Unfortunately, the second half doesn’t quite have so many notable moments and swiftly brings the album back down to merely good-but-not great status, although the closing instrumental “One for the Ditch” has a cool vibe that brings to mind Sepultura’s “Kaiowas”.

However, the none-more-metal production is perfectly mixed to give the listener that maximum metal feeling that brings to mind the great examples of the style – the aforementioned “Painkiller”, Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power”, anything by Iced Earth, etc. You get the point.

So overall, “Long Live Heavy Metal” is – like so many other albums that have the word ‘Metal’ in the title – an album that does exactly what is says on the cover, so to speak. 3 Inches of Blood do what they do and do it well, and that can’t be taken away from them, and if high-pitched vocals, duelling solos and songs about Leather Lords are your thing, then you’ll find much here to keep you happy. It isn’t that it’s a bad album, because it isn’t, but your enjoyment of it may be overshadowed by the fact that you could just as easily put on “Painkiller” , “Screaming for Vengeance” or “Angel of Retribution” and enjoy them more as whole pieces of work.

Long Live Heavy Metal may be the most generic title for an album ever, but it easily is the most suiting for 3 Inches of Blood. With that said, long live the internet. New songs have been "leaking" onto social networking sites, whether posted by the band, or by fans from live performances. At the time of writing this, it seems "Dark Messenger" and "Leather Lord," both from the album, have hit the trusty ol' web, enticing fans to listen and get an idea of what to expect with this spanking new album. So, with a few of the tracks already available, and the knowledge that at some point soon I'll get the album for review, the fan/Metal nerd in me couldn't help but spend some quality alone time with these tracks...

The first of the two studio tracks to be released is "Leather Lord." I heard plenty about this song before giving it a spin, and thankfully a lot of it lived up to the hype. The track wasn't really the most amazing song I've heard, but it was definitely a solid experience none the less. As if channeling the pioneers of the NWOBHM sound with a hint of aggression a la Judas Priest's "Painkiller," which stood out so much to me in such a subtle fashion that I found myself belting out their chorus lyrics over these in a matching falsetto manner. The higher pitched approach approach is nicely met with a small section prior to the guitar solo to feature some rougher vocals, concluding with a more guttural sounding "Piss off..." that transitions into a suiting, though not too inspiring guitar solo. I felt a little let down by it honestly, and the overall final product left me wanting more. But, overall, I enjoyed the track for what it was, and was anxious to hear the next single when I finished.

Next up is "Dark Messenger," and holy Mercyful Fate does it sound familiar. Despite its blatently obvious unoriginality, the track still boasted enough of a classic Heavy Metal sound with a little of the 3 Inches of Blood signature modern edge. There are some harsher vocvals that appear again, roughly around the half-way point, and the track itself definitely has a good bite to it that had my head bobbing along. Sadly, I wasn't too moved again. "Dark Messenger" is a good song, there's no denying that, but it's not like fans of this particular band haven't already heard this specific sound and foundation before, so it's a little hard to really get pumped for it, even at the moment everything kicks in.

So, with my time spent along side these two studio tracks, I can safely say that they did nothing for me. While I definitely enjoyed them a hell of a lot more then I did with Here Waits Thy Doom, I felt that the band's more original sound has been heavily compromised and really shows the heavy influence of the styles early acts. In no way do I feel this will be a bad album, but I can't see it being one of my favorite recordings of 2012 either. After a few spins with these, I already started to miss Fire Up the Blades, and even Advance and Vanquish. Both of those had more of an identity, where as Long Live Heavy Metal doesn't really seem to have one as far as "Leather Lord" and "Dark Messenger" are concerned.

But, then again, this album is called Long Live Heavy Metal. Perhaps this title is meant to be literal, and the influence showing through a lot more than usual will be an intentional theme for the album? I guess we'll all have to wait and see...

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