You can already tell what this album is going to sound like, can’t you? And you would be right, as “Long Live Heavy Metal” pulls out every metal cliché in the book – and some that aren’t – and puts you square back in the early 1980’s with its NWOBHM-isms.
The opening track is called “Metal Woman” and could have come straight off of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, a comment that could be thrown at a multitude of these songs. Singer Cam Pipes comes straight from the Rob Halford/Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens school of bollock-squeezing, high-pitch screams and he barely lets it drop throughout the whole album. Guitarist Justin Hagberg provides harsh vocals at certain points to provide a bit of contrast, most notably on “Leather Lord”, which starts off all Judas Priest-like but throws in a few Iron Maiden guitar harmonies before thrashing itself to a close.
“Chief and the Blade” is a medieval-style folky instrumental that breaks up the intensity before “Dark Messenger” comes crashing in on a wave of power metal aggression and is probably the catchiest song here. ”4000 Torches” has a wonderful stop-start breakdown about two-thirds of the way through that’ll no doubt be a fist-pumping highlight of the live set, but these are all in the first half of the album. Unfortunately, the second half doesn’t quite have so many notable moments and swiftly brings the album back down to merely good-but-not great status, although the closing instrumental “One for the Ditch” has a cool vibe that brings to mind Sepultura’s “Kaiowas”.
However, the none-more-metal production is perfectly mixed to give the listener that maximum metal feeling that brings to mind the great examples of the style – the aforementioned “Painkiller”, Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power”, anything by Iced Earth, etc. You get the point.
So overall, “Long Live Heavy Metal” is – like so many other albums that have the word ‘Metal’ in the title – an album that does exactly what is says on the cover, so to speak. 3 Inches of Blood do what they do and do it well, and that can’t be taken away from them, and if high-pitched vocals, duelling solos and songs about Leather Lords are your thing, then you’ll find much here to keep you happy. It isn’t that it’s a bad album, because it isn’t, but your enjoyment of it may be overshadowed by the fact that you could just as easily put on “Painkiller” , “Screaming for Vengeance” or “Angel of Retribution” and enjoy them more as whole pieces of work.