Even though the Canadians have been around for quite a while, I never really paid a whole lot of attention to them, but when the promo of their fifth album “Long Live Heavy Metal” surfaced, I decided to give it a spin and it would be a (digital) spin that would change my perception of this quintet!
Like said, my reference points to their previous efforts are slim, but they seem to have taken on an even stronger Heavy/Power Metal list, with the harsh vocals strongly diminished compared to before, an element that on the one hand was somewhat original for their style, but at the same time kind of distracted (at least me) from the solid steel underneath.
The strong connection with the roots of Heavy Metal does not only come through in the album title, but also in some of the song titles that some may deem horribly cliché, such as “Metal Woman”, “My Sword Will Not Sleep” or “Leather Lord”, but I think that it is exactly this kind of overblown Metal-ness that 3IOB are gunning for.
Good parts of “Long Live Heavy Metal” are upbeat and are driven forward by heavy guitars, a tight rhythm section and Cam Pipes’ shrieky “love them or hate them” vocals that once more will successfully split the listeners. And with the exception of the two instrumentals “Chief And The Blade” and “One For The Ditch”, 3 INCHES OF BLOOD will take you on a steel-infused power wide that you will not that easily forget, with urgent “My Sword Will Not Sleep” leading into the power-fueled “Leather Lord”, some of the closest Metal has come to “Painkiller” in the last couple of years. This and the fact that “Dark Messenger” has this KING DIAMOND vibe swinging with it in the falsetto vocals and “Look Out” is an up-tempo homage to the late Ronnie James Dio should not lead you down the road of thinking that the Canadians have gone cover band on us, rather do they wear their influences openly on their sleeves and still make sure that it’s clear that what you’re listening to is 3IOB and no one else.
Even after the first listen I had not been able to shake the chorus of my personal favourite “4000 Torches” from my brain anymore, so combining heaviness with immense catchiness is not an issue here either, neither is a more epic note in “Storming Juno”, taking inspiration from the invasion of Juno Beach in World War II.
Crowned by a powerful and clear production courtesy of Sho Murray and the band itself, “Long Live Heavy Metal” lives up to its title and should thoroughly please all connoisseurs of finely sharpened, traditional steel, definitely a highlight of 2012 already!
(Online April 28, 2012)