In the case of The People vs. 3 Inches Of Blood for crimes against metallic credibility and musical decency, I side with the band’s defense. In fact, I’ve never quite understood why 3IOB rubs so many people the wrong way—they’re by no means my favorite band, but I find little fault in their music. I know that Cam Pipes’ vocals are “love ‘em or hate ‘em,” and I know that 3IOB’s “we’re metaller than metal” schtick is more than a little goofy, but I like traditional metal, so I like them. They’re having fun, and most important of all, when I listen to them, I have fun, too.
After the initial cheesy sugar rush of Advance & Vanquish, I was let down by sophomore effort Fire Up The Blades; that album’s songs simply not resonating as much as “Destroy The Orcs” and “Deadly Sinners” had three years previous. (As I listen back to Blades to write this, some of it is better than I remember, but regardless, it’s now forever bookended by far stronger records.) Even as it suffers in the second half, Here Waits Thy Doom returns to days of better song ideas, with the best among them playing up the NWOBHM influence in the band’s impressive riff repertoire—witness the main riff to the rollicking “Rock In Hell” and the Saxon-like “Preacher’s Daughter.” Doom disposes of the much-maligned Joey Jordison production that plagued Blades, although I found the choice of Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, High On Fire) to be unexpected. With Doom, 3IOB also loses its last-remaining original member in scream-y vocalist Jamie Hooper. (Hooper departed long before recording began, under doctor’s orders to stop screaming. Growled vocals are now handled by guitarist Justin Hagsberg.)
Thematically, this record is the same as the others, a Maiden-meets-Manowar mix of fantasy tales alongside odes to the glory of metal. Musically, it’s also the same as the others and (again) markedly more interesting than its predecessor. As always, these riffs are melodic and epic, the band’s twin-guitar interplay leading the charge with some killer harmony leads and fist-pumping gallop. Well-crafted sing-along power metal choruses abound, with some catchy-as-hell goofy-grin-inducing lyrics to boot—”Will you be there to rock in Hell?,” “Never seen / never heard / assassins’ way of life!,” “All of them witches / they will burn”… Cam Pipes’ hellacious wail is in full display, more prominent now than ever with the departure of Hooper, and Hagsberg’s growling fills the gaps nicely albeit with less character than Hooper. Hagsberg’s voice is rawer, thrashier and less melodeath-ish than Hooper’s processed scream.) Between the vocal switch-up and the stronger set of songs, Doom is a well-rounded record, but there is filler—”Fierce Defender” sputters, and “Snake Fighter” and “At The Foot Of The Great Glacier” sit together two-thirds of the way through, just taking up space. Thankfully, “All Of Them Witches” and the nearly eight-minute closing track “Execution Tank” tie the end up nicely, although they’re separated by throwaway instrumental “12:34.”
I disagree with reports that Here Waits Thy Doom is the band’s finest hour—that title still lies with Advance & Vanquish, I’d argue. Regardless, Doom is mostly killer, with little filler, and when it hits, it hits hard. Here Waits Thy Doom is a damn fun listen, a solid record and a step in the right direction towards proving that these guys aren’t a novelty act. Established 3IOB haters will still hate this on principle, and established fans will dig it for the same reason, but regardless of preconception, all fans of energetic traditional metal should find more than enough meat here to keep all heads banging.