Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From the Frontlines: 3 Inches of Blood's Final Show (Black Wizard and Bison B.C. Supporting)

On the grim road to the Commodore, Granville street, it was all as usual on a Vancouver night. The bums were passed out outside the skytrain station with assorted items, with their signs propped on their chests. The odd wall of Hipsters here and there, begging to be punched in their horn rimmed souls. And the usual buskers, one playing Stairway to Heaven until the sky falls, and the other girl playing pure crap and charging 10 bucks for each CD with 13 tracks of acoustic pop torture.

This was going to be a bittersweet night, to say the least. 3 Inches of Blood’s local gigs before the announcement of their final show were pretty sparse. The last time I had good notice to see them was the first time I saw them live, just after Here Waits Thy Doom was released. So this was long overdue.

I got to the lineup around the time the doors opened. It was moving along quickly, but that was a bad thing. It meant the merch booth was going to be over-fucking-flowing. At the Rickshaw or The Venue, there’s a line, but that’s not much trouble. At the Commodore, however, it’s as thick as George Fisher’s neck. When Amon Amarth was here last, I had to hop up on the bar to get past the mob clamoring for a signed guitar pick.

I walked around the place, mainly to find a good pillar to prop myself up against. When I got bored with that, I kept an eye out for anyone I knew. The Commodore is a deceptively ugly place. It’s like that Goth chick that would sit in the back of class of high school. She’s attractive. From a distance. There’s grime on the steps, the bar has untold pounds of gum stuck under the tables, and an ATM that works whenever the hell it feels like. They don’t allow smoking in the place because if the alcohol soaked carpet came anywhere near an open flame, the whole block would go up in a mushroom cloud.

I elected to get some merch to pass the time. After half an hour of slowly shuffling forth, I got my crap, and dropped it off at the coat check. When I returned, I faced the massive wall that is Conan. If you’ve ever been bear hugged and lifted into the sky by a hairy Jason Momoa looking motherfucker at a show in Vancouver, congratulations, you’ve met Conan. He’s yet to lift me into the air yet. As he began to wrap his arms, I hooked my left under his right.

 We forgot our kilts at home.

He started off with a basic lift, but I applied the counterweight easily. To throw him off balance, I moved to the left, but he managed to predict this, and anchored himself to his own left. He then tried to pull me in to lose my footing, but I swiftly shifted into an iron horse stance, making his efforts all for naught. Eventually, we disengaged and caught up since the last show we were both at. Before long, Black Wizard took the stage.

Honestly never heard of these guys before tonight. Obviously local boys, given the occasion, and they’re pretty damn good at what they do. A modern doom metal that has a strong groove and solo work that doesn’t sound like it reads from the gospel of Black Sabbath. They really know their shit, being able to get a bunch of rabid 3 Inches of Blood fans to mosh to something that sounds like Orange Goblin if they were Canadian. A Red and White Goblin, if you will.

After their set and assurance that on their life that 3 Inches of Blood would play, I pretty much tailed Conan around the place as he talked to his real friends. I never have anyone to go with to shows, so I just follow him till he stops at some point. Let me tell you that a night with a bunch of crappy death metal bands is ten times worse when you have no one to talk shit about them with.

One of the people we met up with is a guy I see at literally every single show I go to. His name is Dane, or Dwayne, or something like that. I call him The Duke. He kinda looks like Biff Byford if he was 20 years older, a foot shorter, and had a cane. A pretty cool guy, but we had to drop it short for Bison B.C.

I’ve heard good things about this band, and honestly, I have no god damned clue why. They aren’t terrible by any means, but it was just putting me to sleep. Their songs just could not end, some of them had like 4 riffs, and the least interesting and most boring ones were the ones they spent the most time on playing. It was so long and arduous, it’d make latter day Iron Maiden blush. Speaking of Iron Maiden…

After Bison cleared the stage, the subject of my opinion of the Book of Souls came up in conversation. Conan called me full of shit for hating it, but then it got ugly.

“Look, I like Iron Maiden, but they’ve been just fucking sucking for the past 15 years!”

“Like fucking what?!”

“Book of Souls, Final Frontier, Dance of-“

“Dance of Death is a fucking masterpiece!”

“Name two good tracks!”

“Dance of Death and Montsegur!”

“I said two!”

“No More Lies!”

“More like No More Choruses!”


“One of the most worthless battles in history, and one of their least engaging songs!”

“Oh fuck you! What about Matter of Life and Death?”

“You couldn’t waterboard me hard enough to find a good song off that wet fart!”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you! They have no bad albums! This is all coming from the guy who likes Motörhead!”

Now this got personal. I was stealing this one, but if there was a time for it, it’d be now.

“Seventh Synth Rock Ballad of a Seventh Synth Rock Ballad.”





So yeah, it’s pistols at dawn next week, just after the Blind Guardian show.

The lights dimmed for the final 3 Inches of Blood show. Despite the fact that they’re doing another one on Sunday, I call this their last one. They originally announced this as the last, and scheduled a second after all the pre-order tickets sold out the day it was announced. Sunday’s going to be the sloppy seconds, and I never settle for that.

 Besides, I was one of the people who purchased that ticket at June 4th, 10:01 am under the impression it was their last, so I'm calling it as such.

They hit the stage with Helix’s Rock You playing, the entire crowd joining in. They began the night with Metal Woman, causing all females in attendance to sprout spikes from their shoulders, bullet belts to materialize upon their waists, and to climax instantaneously. This was a pit night for me. you could scarcely find me outside of the pit, I was the denizen of this realm, I was born and bred in there, you couldn’t put me down even if I wanted you to.

They were going to play the show in two sets, with a short break between them. The first one consisted mostly of recent material, Leather Lord, Call of the Hammer, and a few flashes from the past like God of the Cold White Silence and Wykydtron. Hydra’s Teeth is a song that they haven’t played live in eons, so it was like a hand job after a Charles Bronson movie, exactly what we needed. It ended with their glorious tribute to Ronnie James Dio, Look Out.

During the whole time that me and Conan were in the pit, we were often on crowd surfing duty. We stood at the front rim of the pit, and would lift the hapless dorks who did not have the frame of titans such as Conan and I upwards into the crowd. Bit of a funny story there. On the skytrain in, I was minding my own business, scowling at the tools who crossed my path, when at the other side of the car, there stood three skinny little dorks who could not possibly be any older than 18.

I didn’t think much of them, but for some reason, my gaze was drawn to the least skinniest one. He was wearing a plain gray t-shirt, so I don’t know what I saw in him. He had a wispy little leather wrap on his wrist, didn’t strike me as anyone of importance, so I just wrote him off. But in the mosh pit of 3 Inches of Blood’s final show at The Commodore, I saw him, recognized him, grabbed, and threw him upon the crowd, beginning his ascension to True Metal. I get the feeling I’ll be calling him a poseur should I again see him, though.

The second set was mostly of their early stuff. And for good reason. This was when previous band members came up to play (Nick Cates was already playing bass for the whole night). Matt Wood on drums for Revenge is a Vulture, Byron “Fucking” Stroud on Bass for Dark Messenger, and Bobby Froese for Destroy the Orcs. Then, something magical happened. During the wrap up to Battles and Brotherhood, they seamlessly shifted into a medley. To Heaven and Hell. One of my favourite bands playing the best song ever.

There’s something about this song and The Fraser Valley, I don’t know if it’s like this elsewhere, but Heaven and Hell is the heart and soul of our scene. It’s covered by every other band, we jam with it, sound check with it, tune to it. Hell, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who first picked a guitar up because of this song, or that I'm alone in saying it’s the first song I learned. To hear 3 Inches of Blood play the song that’s ingrained that fucking deep in our skulls was nothing short of a religious experience… Oh, they covered Tom Sawyer some time during the night, too.

Speaking of religious experiences…

In the year of our Dio, 2008, Jamie Hooper left 3 Inches of Blood due to severe vocal cord issues. But on Saturday November 7th 2015, late into the night, or probably very early November 8th, he took the stage once more alongside his brothers of old. Motherfucker looks as anorexic as he always had, with that goofy tiny gap in his front teeth, screaming like a demonized goblin despite looking like a massive hipster punk. To see Jamie Hooper singing alongside Cam Pipes with the other previous members was fucking cosmic.

I don't take photos at shows, so stolen facebook photos are all you're gonna get.

Night Marauders, The Goatrider’s Horde, and the fucking Canadian metal anthem that is Balls of Ice. But they’re missing one song. It’s the song that defines 3 Inches of Blood. The heart and soul of 3 Inches of Blood fans, Motherfucker, you know I’m talking Deadly Sinners. It was fucking majestic. Despite going one hundred percent, operating at peak efficiency, and the centre of the pit doubling as a steam room, the mosh pit went even faster. This is a song to draw blood to. Which I did to Conan with my bracer.

Above the crowd, one lone surfer was riding the waves of chaos. One man, his hair blowing in the bedlam and metal. holding aloft his cane to the sky whilst throwing the horns. It was The Duke. Magnificent bastard damn near got up on stage, but he poured behind the rails to be swept aside. It felt like that went on forever, but that song is only so long. Once they finally concluded, with all poseurs in attendance converted or dead, leather and steel adorning the walls, and beer flowing through the crowd, then did Deadly Sinners finally end. This was the last of 3 Inches of Blood.

The feeling of seeing a band end their career by playing one of their most well known songs is one of the most satisfying experiences one could have, but it also left everyone feeling empty. Everyone kept cheering for a good 10 minutes after they left the stage. Everyone started screaming  “One more song” over and over again. Are you serious?

What other note could they possibly end on? They gave a bitchin' set with all of the best songs from their albums, brought previous, beloved members to perform with them one last time, and brought it to a close with them all performing the song that defines both the band, the fans, metalheads in general, and pretty much all of heavy metal. You want to spoil all that by getting them to play Crazy Nights? Needless to say, I didn’t join them in the chant. I simply roared above the crowd with a mighty bellow of “LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL!!!”

Corny, I know, but a much more fitting epitaph to one of, if not the best Vancouver metal band.

So, this is it.

Life after 3 Inches of Blood.

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