01. Ride Darkhorse Ride 02. Destroy the Orcs (MP3) 03. Headwaters of the River of Blood 04. Heir to the Chaos Throne 05. Skeletal Onslaught 06. Journey to the Promised Land 07. Lady Deathwish 08. Curse of the Lighthouse Keeper 09. Blazing Fires of Evermore 10. Hall of Heros 11. Balls of Ice2003 Infect Records
There was a time when metal was about more than brutality and technical proficiency. Metal luminaries like Manowar and Dio understood that the gods had made heavy metal, and that it was good. Iron Maiden built upon hard rock's foundations with blazing riffs and ear-piercing vocals. Since those days, the true spirit of metal has laid largely dormant in our hemisphere. That was until Three Inches Of Blood was formed. This Canadian six-piece is quickly becoming noted and notorious for their long-overdue revival of classic metal mixed with more contemporary influences, most notably certain sorts of black metal. With their debut full-length, "Battlecry Under A Wintersun," Three Inches Of Blood has stirred the souls of the true believers. This record bridges a gap between the old and new, often bringing to mind a grittier Hammerfall or underproduced Blind Guardian. The vocal style of Cam Pipes often comes close to a cross between Bruce Dickinson and Bon Scott but somehow manages to be more metal than either. Each song is filled with fantastical imagery and medieval might and magic. The song "Destroy The Orcs" makes this record worth owning alone. Three Inches Of Blood manages to capture, in just over two minutes, the ferocity of a battle with a horde of orcs. The recurring use of dual lead guitars, on this song and most others, supplies the pure metallic power that clearly drives this entire record. The band pretty much sticks to the formula set forth by their metal forefathers, even including a brief instrumental interlude to add to the album's atmosphere. While the adherence to a traditional metal style is what makes this album great for me, I could see how it might be a negative to some. There isn't a whole lot going on here that I haven't heard done to some degree before. It may just seem particularly fresh to me as a reviewer, having heard so little in this style recently. Either way, this is the sort of record that I could put in at any time and know that it would get me pumped up. The combination of their seemingly tongue-in-cheek metal attitude and their exceptional chops make this disc a true gem. Some people will undoubtedly take this record as humorous, which to some degree, it is. Writing it off as a joke however, would be a huge mistake. The obvious talent of the members of this band shines through the "Dungeons & Dragons" packaging, proving Three Inches Of Blood is the real deal. Bottom Line: Although "metal" has evolved over the years into something seemingly distant from the groups that first experimented with the style, Three Inches Of Blood has provided the "missing link" with their debut album. By combining modern influences with classic metal style, they have managed to prove both their own greatness and the continuing relevance of groups like Iron Maiden who paved the way for metal as we know it. "Battlecry Under A Wintersun" may not change the face of music, but it is a reminder of the constant changes music has faced. Either way, every listen to this record is like a half-hour rocket ride through the rivers of blood to the gates of Valhalla.