Countless bands have written songs and albums as an ode to the music they love. From Ronnie James Dio penning “Long Live Rock 'N Roll” during his stint with Rainbow, right through to the current classic metal revival, the psalm of metal solidarity has become almost a rite of passage for young bands. What is often unsaid is that underneath the love for heavy metal, the songs themselves usually offer nothing but an assortment of cliches.
Such is the case with many of the bands revitalizing the spirit of classic heavy metal. 3 Inches Of Blood is like any artist with an identifiable influence, beholden to tradition, and ultimately lacking an identity all their own. “Metal Woman” blasts out of the gates with a piercing scream and raw riffs. It is undeniably metal, straight out of the “Painkiller” playbook. The song works as an energetic stormer, roiling the blood for the eleven tracks still to follow. Energy is the key word, something very necessary to truly enjoy the music the band pumps out.
Heavy metal has never been known for its subtlety, and 3 Inches Of Blood do nothing to change its reputation. Songs come and go without tempering the assault, the band firing full steam ahead, except for one brief interlude. Vocalist Cam Pipes takes the tortured wail of King Diamond, mixes it with the piercing quality of Rob Halford, and then proceeds to challenge both their metal credentials by spending nearly every second shredding the highest reaches of his vocal range. The lack of real variation in his delivery hurts the songs, giving them all the same emotional quality, and severely limiting the appeal the music can have. At some point, the exact moment depending on your taste and fortitude, the constant wail will become tiring.
Such shortcomings are a shame, since the band manages to spit out an impressive array of traditional metal riffs and solos. While not as memorable as an “Iron Man” or “Back In Black”, these riffs are better able to be incorporated into songs than the aforementioned scene-stealers. The short acoustic interlude “Chief And The Blade” shifts into “Dark Messenger”, before ripping open into an addictive old-school romp. Other songs achieve similar results, all the while avoiding anything that could be labeled with the heretical tag 'pop'. This is true metal, as espoused over the last thirty years by Manowar, but done without the air of obliviousness that band struggles to escape.
“Long Live Heavy Metal” escapes much of the curse of writing about the music being played. It is not a self-congratulatory treatise on the awesome nature of heavy metal so much as it is a celebration of tradition. While it could be called one-dimensional, or too riddled with cliché, that doesn't deny the fact 3 Inches Of Blood can craft songs.