Hitting up the Metal Alliance Tour
In a culture obsessed with decoding the lyrics and attitudes of modern popular music, nothing gets more closely scrutinized than heavy metal. Perhaps it's because, among all of pop music's many tribes and subcultures, metal is the most intensely tribal. Whatever the case, metal has taken itself extremely seriously in the last few decades, beginning with the PMRC labeling of the late '80s and leading to the overblown phenomenon of Norwegian church-burning black metal in the late '90s. Which is maybe why it's so refreshing when a modern day metal maniac comes clean with the dirty secret that a lot of what they do involves providing a portal for escape, without a whole lot of thought put into it. "Socio-political agenda? Fuck that," exclaims 3 Inches of Blood guitarist Shane Clark. "There are bands singing about serious things, personal things, relationships and whatever. But basically, we're fuckin' partyin', man."
TRADITIONAL For Shane Clark of 3 Inches of Blood (second from right), metal is about "Storytelling . . . escapism . . . you know, tales of might and battle!"
Amen to that, especially when they take the thrill of partyin' seriously enough to parlay it into a slab of sheer molten metal as gleamingly perfect as their upcoming Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media). "When we broke out, in the early '00s, the musical climate was super serious and sad — I guess it was what you'd call metalcore. It was a real adolescent thing, for teenagers, you know? We didn't want any of that — we were all about Mercyful Fate, Rainbow, just basically heavy metal. Do you know what I mean?"
Totally, as did a lot of other fans, especially once the band honed their approach on their second long-player, 2004's superb Advance and Vanquish. That album had it all: twin guitars playing insane orchestrated leads, phenomenal drum work, twin screaming vocalists, songs about killing orcs — and above all, a sonic attack that managed to completely ignore anything that had come out in the past 20 years.
3 Inches of Blood were seen by many as a band in the vanguard of what came to be known as "traditional metal," a modern breed of metal with a strict adherence to, basically, a pre-baggy pants aesthetic. But Clark doesn't see his band as being all that calculated. "For us," he explains, "it has to do with our age and our influences. I mean, who we are as people, we're just full-on escapists. Cam [Pipes, vocalist] is big into D&D, and we're all just way into fantasy. It's storytelling and it's escapism, and for us that has always manifested into, you know, tales of might and battle!" Which fits so well with the sort of music they have cranked out ever since; their follow-up to Advance, 2006's Fire Up the Blades, was perhaps the mightiest and battle-iest metal slab ever heard at that point. While bands like Mastodon and High on Fire toyed with fantastical themes amidst sludgy grooves and relentlessly grim riffwork, 3IoB kept things jaunty and jaw-dropping, in an over-the-top presentation of high-pitched screams and nutso twin leads that led some metal fans to ask the million dollar question: are they kidding?
: Music Features
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