HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

3 Inches Of Blood - Advance And Vanquish

I'm sure it grates on the band's nerves, but non-metal folks with uncommon metal tolerances are going to love this thing for its mocking nature. The obvious reference is The Darkness, although this is not ragged undisciplined Angel City worship, more a lethal rip through drunken power metal, NWOBHM, German thrash and melodic death. Call it The Darkness for purists, heart-palpitating speed metal with gorgeous, inventive, complicated riffs, punky attitude and a vocalist in Cam Pipes that is, well, gonna be controversial, given his dramatic shriek sound-painting primary-coloured pictures that are squarely making fun of dumb metal lyrics - just like 'Black Shuck' from The Darkness, a track dubiously comparable with this band's 'The Phantom Of The Crimson Cloak'. But hell, Hammerfall kicked off power metal by more or less making fun of metal and themselves, however unintentionally; Cradle are a bit camp as well (and come to think of it, this band nestle nicely between those two polarities). No doubt 3 Inches Of Blood know what they are doing. They have a hip post-metal name that betrays that fact, and then dive right in to the piss-take task with a troo metal album title, cover art, and on she goes... It's a fine line. Wolf is beloved for dancing on it; Toronto's Cloven Blade would have been, had they not broken up. Have 3 Inches Of Blood gone over? I for one, don't mind the wonks, slake on the energy, and admire greatly the constant barrage of first class riffing. So there.
Rating 8

Helmet - Size Matters

Back with time-altered band, Page Hamilton is making the same kind of geometric grunge that awarded the band with a gold album and attendant buzz status for about four years in the transitional mid-'90s. Despite one QOTSA rip-off ('See You Dead', the single), Size Matters is a worthy, if not advancing or brave, addition to the Helmet catalogue, the brunt of it bulldozing to huge down-tuned grooves, slow, slamming drumming, pregnant pauses and laconic vocal deliveries - I picture a Stranglers world view. Things stretch out a bit for 'Unwound', 'Throwing Punches' and 'Everybody Loves You', Hamilton finding textures that belie his way-to-the-side intellectual art rock tendencies, and memorable (if weakly mixed) vocal melody lines (twines, more like, between thumping chords) to go with them. Cool to be reminded of these guys, Helmet significant and influential in that they, along with Prong, were one of the main links between AiC-doomy grunge and similarly tribal and morose franchises within the non-rap half of nu-metal. Call this a no surprises, crowd-pleasing record that strongly restates the above position(ing).
Rating 7.5

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