Check subtlety, pretense and the last decade at the door; Vancouver's 3 Inches of Blood don't want anything to do with them. Eschewing fads and hipster cred in favor of staying true to their message of metal for its own ridiculous, epic sake, the quintet behind last year's Fire Up the Blades (Roadrunner) goes straight for the kill with weapons borrowed from the arsenals of such heralded metal warriors as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Manowar. Their sound is the sound of crashing swords and crushing limbs, the pulse and sweep of battle, the eternal struggle against an eternal enemy. As vocalist Jamie Hooper intones on the band's Web site, "We are forging the steel that we'll use to annihilate the heavy metal posers, and in every town we play, the streets will run red with their blood." The Metal gauntlet has been thrown down; who will answer the challenge?
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Pressing through the tunnel of bodies hewn by their brothers-in-arms, Detroit's The Black Dahlia Murder then mounts the stage, channeling the spirit of the Norse gods in their shredding, snarling assault. Unlike many of their black-metal brethren, however, BDM manages to maintain some semblance of melody under all that crushing weight, like flowers growing on a corpse — iron flowers growing on a reanimated corpse that's trying to eat your soul, that is.