Three Inches of Blood
Advance & Vanquish
Will fit nicely between your Lost Horizon and early Metallica records
There are so many questions one can ask about this record. So many mysteries abound when talking about these Canadian power thrashers that it is hard to even begin. First and foremost, WHY is this band on Roadrunner Records? Since when did Roadrunner care about a band rich with traditional metal values? There isn't anything extremely trendy about this group. There isn't any hip hop stuff going on within, no hardcore elements, and certainly nothing that resembles that dreaded "push for money". At the same time I have to ask why the loyal die hards, who have begged and pleaded with their establishment to bring a traditional metal band into the fold, don't even want to talk about this record? They simply pretend it doesn't exist Apparently from what I have gathered, myself and a guy who lives in Ghartzishak, Jobolia really likes the album, which is probably the less than stellar result Roadrunner was expecting when they signed the band.
Really, in all honesty, I was hoping that 3 Inches Of Blood would merge the two factions together. You know who I'm talking about, those denim and leather boys who refuse to accept anything remotely resembling a modern element. At the same time the teeny boppers who have had years and years of rap rock, hardcore, and death metal thrown at them from every corner of the mainstream would finally get to hear solos and melody. They would understand good songwriting, skillful playing, and a sincere passion for the old elements. In my mindset, I took out everything I didn't like about the group. I forgot about their stage presence and lack thereof (see my Metal Church/3 Inches Of Blood road report), the rumors of their abandonment of metal in the 90s, and their signing on the trendy Roadrunner insignia. I only took into effect the studio album I have before me, that being "Advance & Vanquish". With this one record, the two factions should calmly meet in the middle, shake hands, and open each other's minds to a whole new world of metal entertainment.
It hasn't quite happened that way. Bearing that the group don't pull an "Appetite For Destruction" on us, this album has come and gone faster than Gigli at the box office. There has been little to no interest in this band whatsoever. Aside from my brief discussion of the album with my Ghartzishak cohort, this album is completely dead. Sure, the group has gone on tour with some big names and maybe they got a push or two, but now all forward momentum has stopped. I have issues with that. I enjoy this album. Surely it is no "Fire Down Under" or "Power & Glory", but at least it is an attempt to create memorable music once again. "Advance & Vanquish" borrows just about everything from the 80s, from riff after scorching riff of Judas Priest, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Heavy Load, and a host of other back catalogues. Nonetheless, it is a valiant effort that is razor sharp at times, completely destroying everything in its wake on a quest to destroy the orcs.
Canada's 3 Inches Of Blood have created one other album prior to this, an underground record called "Battlecry Under A Winter Sun" in 2002. "Advance & Vanquish" marks the band's second attempt and first for Roadrunner Records. The record was produced by Neil Kernon, famous for his work with Judas Priest and Queensryche, and was engineered by death metal sensation Colin Richardson, who has worked with Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death in the past. Those two ingredients create a stirring metal performance here. 3 Inches Of Blood create a traditional metal opus filled with tight, speedy riffs and soaring leads. The group manages to hold two vocalists in their camp, Cam Pipes and Jamie Hooper. Pipes does the falsetto thing, at times hitting some insane highs that only Halford or King Diamond could achieve. Hooper on the other hand handles the harsh screams, which border on Darkthrone or Emperor style black metal.
This album will fit nicely between your Lost Horizon and early Metallica records. It spans that sort of timeframe, picking up the early vibes of thrash and speed, but also incorporating the blazing Teutonic finesse of today's power metal superstars. The group can rage for days it seems on stunning tracks like "Destroy The Orcs", "Fear On The Bridge", and "Revenge Is A Vulture". At times the band is quick witted power mongers reminding me of Iced Earth's "Night Of The Stormrider" or Metallica's "Ride The Lightning". The group is an extremely well designed machine with the ability to craft speedy cuts that absorb everything 80s. Not necessarily a copycat band, but they do borrow their share of classic 80s rhythms. Other songs recall the speedy British invasion of the late 70s, bringing that thought pattern into play on "Deadly Sinners" and "Wykydtron". At times Hooper seems out of place, but he does manage to break up the high register of Pipes. While Pipes is a great singer, his falsetto only highs seem to get old quickly. That is when Hooper seems to step in to break up the monotony some. The two works well off of each other and neither side seems completely dominant. Favorite cuts for me are "Axes Of Evil", "Crazy Nights", and "The Phantom Of The Crimson Cloak".