Raising the horns high with new metal from Canada
Scribe: Todd K Smith

“Dude, I might end up rambling through this interview,” says 3 Inches of Blood guitarist Shane Clark, “I just smoked a huge bowl with the guys from Mondo Generator and I’m stoned out of my mind.” So began our lucid chat under a make shift equipment tent backstage at Ozzfest 2007.  This is the band’s first appearance at the metal fest and the six boys from Vancouver, BC are stoked to be here. “See those kids over there bangin’ their heads to Behemoth?” says Clark with a point. “I’m that guy, I worked construction jobs and in a saw mill all my life so this is a real gift…and I’m honored.”

Clark, an avid fan of Lamb of God and Hatebreed still can’t believe his good fortune. “On our off dates we play with those guys in these smaller clubs,” he says. “Every night it is a huge rush.” 3 Inches of Blood, currently signed to Roadrunner Records, are the embodiment of their influences. From the first wave of metal including Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, UFO, Scorpions through to Slayer and Dark Angel and on into the Bay area thrash scene, they wear their influence with such pride that many think of them as a parody band. “Obviously we love hard, aggressive music,” continues Clark “but it’s what we do as a tribute to the band we love. It just pours out of us.”

The band’s history is a revolving door of members. Clark himself didn’t join the band until after their initial label signing and the first record was in the can. “It’s a twisted story,” says Clark “but one of friendship. The first incarnation of the band was seven years ago. It started with a reunion show on Victoria Island. The original guys grew up there. They wanted to get more serious and moved to Vancouver where they archived a really good following. Because the metal scene was so limited they played everywhere including all age skateboard shows. They got a lot of strife from the metal community for that. That’s when the whole buzz of ‘are they serious or a joke’ started.”

Determined to prove themselves the band, consisting of dual singers Cam Pipes (clean vocals) Jamie Hooper (screamer), brothers Rich (bass) and Geoff (drums) Trawick and guitarists Sunny Dhak and Bobby Froese packed their bags and hit the road. A number of Canadian tours followed by a couple US tours laid the fertile ground that yielded their debut release Battlecry Under A Wintersun (2002). The disc caught the attention of their UK distributor who arranged a very lucrative opening slot with The Darkness. Roadrunner soon followed with a contract in hand – then began the fallout.

Rhythm brothers Trawick left and were replaced by Vancouver stoner/doom drummer Matt Wood (Goatsblood) and Brian Redman. The second record, first for Roadrunner Advance and Vanquish was cut, but just prior to release, the band fell to pieces again with Wood, Froese and Dhak leaving and eventually founding ‘70s throwback Pride Tiger. Vocalists Pipes and Hooper were left without a band and pressure to tour behind the new disc. “It was kind of bizarre for them,” says Clark. “The whole Vancouver music community really got behind them which was a real switch. Me and Justin (Hagberg) joined at the same time, just two weeks before Advance and Vanquish was released. Then Nick (Cates) and Alexei (Rodriguez) came in for our rhythm section.”

When asked if it was difficult to step into someone else’s shoes Clark explains, “We keep it true to the way it was written, but our individual personalities do come through. By the time we sat down and wrote for this album Fire up the Blades, the whole vibe of the band had jelled. Me and Justin took the reigns on the song writing. I went to Brentwood Bay, in the sticks, where Justins’ from and we would write songs during the day then go to the bar at night and talk about what we did. Out of respect for the prior members we wanted to come up with our own thing and not copy what they did. Hence the aggressive side of me and Justin shines through, more of an Anthrax, Testament, Exodus feel.”

The band does four songs for their Ozzfest set and five when they play their off-dates. “We start with ‘Through the Horned Gate’ from the new record and go straight into ‘Night Marauders’. We go for the fast aggressive pace then right to ‘The Goatriders Horde’. ‘Axes of Evil’ is from the last record and one of our favorites as is a new one ‘Forrest King’. It’s fun to play live as a cool tribute to Black Sabbath. When we were writing these songs we would piece ideas together - once everyone learned the skeletons then we all started adding our own parts. It makes it more fun to play live, since everyone gets to play what they contributed.”

Clark goes on to say, “Song writing can be the best and the worst. It’s very stressful. You want your idea out there and the other guy wants his idea so it builds into this creative tension. With this album there are peaks and valleys. We wanted some barnburners but also some slower more groove-centered tracks.” If critics thought Advance and Vanquish was bathed in ‘80s metal, Fire up the Blades will seal the deal. Produced by Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Murderdolls) the record spews out Mercyful Fate/King Diamond screams filled with an armory of thrash riffs. Time changes and layered textures add tremendous effect including piano in “God of The Cold White Silence” and organ in “Trial of Champions”.

The pageantry of “The Great Hall Of Feasting” digs deeper on a monolithic scale as does the Racer X speed of “Assassins of the Light” and the progression in “Black Spire” and “Demon’s Blade.” The guitars stick to structured scales in twin harmony as solos fly like bats unleashed. The drums and bass are absolutely crushing especially in “The Hydra’s Teeth” and “Night Marauders”. Brief but powerful are the two instrumentals “Through the Horned Gate” and “Rejoice in the Fires of Man’s Demise” that bookend the record. If it’s a retro-fit with shrill pipes and plenty of beef you want, then this is the ticket.

Website: 3 Inches of Blood, Roadrunner Records