Spirited, fantastical and frantically engaging, West Coast Canadian heavy metal-ers 3 Inches of Blood have have forged a considerable legacy of auditory assault. Renowned for their explosive yet catchy brand of metal, 3 Inches of Blood approached the subjects of orcs, goblins and otherwise ridiculous but fun and engaging fantastical content. Having ushered their adventurous warlike call since their 1999 inception, 3 Inches of Blood graduated from their British Columbia roots to commendable success on Roadrunner Records, including numerous successful European tours.
Performing a second evening as part of their career finale, 3 Inches of Blood drew material from across their storied career, including a couple of heart-felt reunions with former members of the band. Having released five albums and a few EPs, 3 Inches of Blood covered considerable ground within their time of tenure, ranging from their hardcore inspired beginnings to their increasingly metal-driven direction.
Much of the audience at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom had obviously experienced 3 Inches of Blood metal onslaught on many previous occasions; the packed ballroom shook with excited fans as the band ripped through their modern material and older favourites. The band’s music has often involved a bit of humour, a song called “Wicked Troll” can only be taken so seriously with Cam Pipes’s high searing vocals driving the composition home. 3 Inches of Blood’s music can be accurately described as cheesy, however the playful and immediately inciting nature of the band’s flow make those attributes work in their favour. 3 Inches of Blood could sound-track a full fledged medieval battle; in actuality, their shows have included some of the most community oriented metal fans who set the golden standard of friendliness. Anyone knocked down in the mosh pit at a 3 Inches of Blood show is inevitably helped them to their feet in a matter of seconds; their work is powerful and energetic yet unmalicious, which has generously separated 3 Inches of Blood from legions of metal bands that take themselves far too seriously. “We are all heavy metal fans; that’s the most important thing.” Pipes was a bit sentimental on this final evening.
Cranking through a 40 minute set of songs, the band took a brief break before returning for a second set. “Revenge is a Vulture” from Advance and Vanquish affirmed the band’s strengths with its consistent stream of attack. Savouring their final performance, the band made shout outs and artistic nods to a few heroes including Ronnie James Dio; Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” received a heavy toned yet playful rendition. Former guitarist Bobby Froese added another guitar onstage for “Destroy the Orcs,” which sounded as fun and ridiculous as ever. There have been numerous changes in the band’s roster over their 15 year history, the inclusion of the original members added great authenticity to the song’s final performance.
As the show progressed, the band members grew more and more sentimental, savoring each moment of attention as they played in front of so many longstanding friends, fans and families. The evening’s highlight undoubtedly included the return of James Hooper, whose’s harsh, screaming vocals added much of the abstractness that defined 3 Inches of Blood’s early years. Equipped with an undeniably brutal voice, Hooper’s vocals always added an unexpected element of the sublime to 3 Inches of Blood’s heavy metal ethos. The spirited takes on “Night Marauders” and “Balls of Ice,” seemed seamless, the energy of the reunited band felt incendiary.
“Thanks to our families, our wives and girlfriends, cause we’re never home,” remarked Pipes towards the end of the evening as the band’s final song drew closer and closer. After a storied and successful career, 3 Inches of Blood wrapped up with class by ending their live legacy in their home town at one of the most legendary and cherished venues in North America. The Commodore Ballroom was full of metal heads who were very conscious and respectful of the band’s epilogue. Pipes again voiced his appreciation, “”I don’t know what to say, thank you for your help over the years.” The crowd dripped with affection.