With swords held high and shields in position, 3 Inches of Blood have been waging a valiant battle against — well, anyone who doesn't have a soft spot for mythical beasts and medieval warfare. And, for the most part, their holy war has been a great success.
The Vancouver, British Columbia, power/classic-metallers' 2002 debut, Battlecry Under a Winter Sun, earned them a deal with Roadrunner, through which they issued their second disc, 2004's well-received Advance and Vanquish. And the band has wowed crowds on tour slots opening for Iron Maiden, Cradle of Filth and others. This summer, 3 Inches of Blood will play Ozzfest's second stage around the time they release their third disc, Fire Up the Blades, June 26.
Of course, there have been casualties along the way. Original drummer Geoff Trawick and his brother, bassist Rick, left the band in 2004, leaving 3 Inches scrambling to find last-minute replacements before recording Advance and Vanquish. Then, shortly after releasing the LP, guitarists Sunny Dhak and Bobby Froese quit the band and were replaced by Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark. After that, drummer Matt Wood quit in July 2005 because of personal and professional differences.
"War is never easy, but sometimes reinforcements are a necessity to make you stronger," singer Jamie Hooper shrugged. "I'm sure those guys think they're better off where they are, but we're definitely in a better place now, too. The new guys are more into what we're doing and they're better players, so there are skills there that weren't before. And with [newcomer] Alexei [Rodriguez] on the drums, we're able to play faster than ever."
The improvements are evident on Fire Up the Blades. Like its predecessor, the album is rooted in charging rhythms; thick, crunchy riffs that sound like a cross between Hammerfall and Judas Priest; and the shrill-yowl-meets-guttural-growl of dueling singers Hooper and Cam Pipes. But this time, the playing is sharper, the arrangements more multifaceted and the hooks more deeply embedded.
3 Inches of Blood started writing songs for the new album last fall at a house they rented in Tacoma, Washington. "We wanted to get away from Vancouver so we wouldn't be distracted by our drunken friends," Hooper said. "So we spent a few months there jamming eight hours a day and drinking even more than we would have back home."
The band entered Vancouver's the Armory and Mushroom Studios in October and spent two months tracking with producer and Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison. The oft-masked barbarian took a few turns at the drum kit and even recorded a few background chants.
"We were so stoked to find out he was a fan of our band," Hooper said. "We met him when we were on tour with Satyricon and he was playing drums with them. And that's where we really got to know him. He's an amazing producer and an even better beer drinker."
Amazingly, the partying didn't impair the band's timing or ability to groove. And, while 3 Inches of Blood have been known to argue with past members on previous occasions, this time they got along in the studio like frat brothers at a strip club. "The songs were so exciting and fun to record," Hooper said. "Nothing had to be forced and everything came out so easily."
As much fun as 3 Inches of Blood have when they're recording, they're pretty serious about the final musical results and redo anything they're the least bit unsatisfied with. The same can't be said for their lyrics, which are goofy as hell and inspired mostly by fantasy, horror and science fiction.
"We try to keep reality out of the lyrics as much as possible," Hooper said. "I like the idea of music being escapist fiction. I hate writing songs about how sh---y your day was or how sh---y the world is. Yeah, let's all get bummed out and cry. F--- that. I'd rather go off into a dream world. And, yes, we do play Dungeons & Dragons, and we're not ashamed to admit it."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Former Coal Chamber axeman Miguel "Meegs" Rascon has surfaced in a new project called Glass Pinata. The band has spent the last year recording tracks for its debut LP and plans to make its live debut April 19 at West Hollywood, California's Whisky a Go Go. Ozzfest 2007 metallers Ankla will also perform at the gig. ... The Red Chord are all set to headline a June tour with support acts Through the Eyes of the Dead, Despised Icon and All Shall Perish in tow. The trek kicks off June 1 in Philadelphia and runs through June 28 in Montreal. ... Hate Eternal have parted ways with bassist Randy Piro, frontman Erik Rutan confirms. "Randy and I both thought this was the right life change for him and I support everything he wants to do for his future," Rutan said in a statement. "Randy always gave 100 percent while in the band and I appreciate all he has done for me and Hate Eternal. I wish him nothing but the best." Piro, meanwhile, commented that his "reason for leaving Hate Eternal [was] to direct my focus and energy to" his new project, Gigan. ...
Pig Destroyer have put the finishing touches on their forthcoming LP, Phantom Limb. The follow-up to 2004's Terrifyer is set to drop June 12 and will feature "Deathtripper," "Heathen Temple" and "Girl in the Slayer Jacket." ... Light This City are in need of a new guitarist following the recent departure of Steve Hoffman. "It has come to a point where [Hoffman] feels he needs to personally and musically move in another direction," the band said in a statement. "We respect his wishes completely and thank him wholeheartedly for his time in Light This City." If you think you're up to the challenge, the band said all auditioning candidates should be between ages 18 and 25, have some touring experience under their belt, possess their own equipment, and must "be extremely comfortable playing thrash" and "melodic death metal." Check out the band's MySpace page for further details. ...
New Jersey's the Number Twelve Looks Like You have completed work on their highly anticipated new album, Mongrel, which is set to drop June 19. Look for the set to feature 10 tracks, including "El Piñata de la Muerte," "Alright, I Admit It ... It Was a Whore House" and "Sleeping With the Fishes, See?" ... Rhode Island chaos kings Daughters have booked a slate of gigs to follow their current road trip with Cattle Decapitation and the Locust. The band will play April 30 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and tour through May 6 in Hudson, New York. ... The Chariot, Misery Signals, the Human Abstract and I Hate Sally will be spending a large chunk of May together. The bands will head out on an eight-gig tour starting May 17 in Oklahoma City, and so far, dates are booked through May 26 in Anaheim, California. Additional shows will be announced in the coming weeks. ... Bloodjinn, Vanna, Twelve Gauge Valentine and the Silent Escape will team up for a run of May shows starting in Baltimore on May 9. The brief tour is expected to wind down May 29 in El Paso, Texas. ...
Swedish death-metal act Insision's forthcoming opus Ikon will not be in stores in April as originally planned. No definitive release date has been confirmed yet, as the band's label, Dental Records, is dealing with distribution dilemmas. When the album is released, expect it to feature nine tracks, including "A Ravenous Discharge," "Depleting the Non-Being" and "Breathing the Black Dust." ... Speaking of Swedes, black-metal heavyweights Dark Funeral are planning to make a return to North America this fall, following a successful run of the continent earlier this year. The band has lined up Naglfar and Daath as support acts for the tour, which kicks off October 11 in West Springfield, Virginia, and runs through November 2 in Detroit. ... Yet another Swedish band, Disfear, will begin recording their next LP this summer with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at his studios in Salem, Massachusetts. Look for the yet-untitled effort to include "In Exodus," "The Cage" and "Testament."