3 Inches of Blood w/ Toxic Holocaust & Early Man – [Live]

Saturday, 24 January 2009

After covering three big arena shows during the last month of 2008, it was time to get back to my roots. I may have turned 40 less than a month ago, but there is still something very appealing to me about a hot, sweaty, loud venue packed full of metalheads. And maybe I'm getting a bit nostalgic in my old age, but when I saw the line-up of 3 Inches Of Blood, Toxic Holocaust and Early Man, I had a bit of a flashback to my metal youth—being smashed up against the stage at The Stone or Ruthie's Inn while bands like Slayer, Exodus and Metallica assaulted my ears. Needless to say, I was hoping to have a similar experience tonight.

First to hit the stage was Early Man, a band who seemed to have flown under my radar until about a month ago. But after hearing their latest release Beware The Circling Fin and totally digging their old school thrash sound, I was looking forward to seeing them live just as much—if not more than—Toxic Holocaust or 3IOB. And they did not disappoint….

With a twin guitar attack reminiscent of Holt/Hunting-era Exodus (and even Holt/Altus Exodus), Early Man put on a killer set of no-bullshit thrash metal that quite honestly blew me away. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Conte delivered the vocals in straight-up no frills fashion, and in today's world of either cookie monster growls or want-to-be King Diamond like shrills, it was quite a refreshing change. Fellow axe wielder Pete Macy was nothing short of total shredding, and as they steamrolled through "Feeding Frenzy," "Sinking The Blade" and "Coiled Like A Snake" among others, I became even a bigger fan of the band. It looks like Early Man are set to release a full length album in the not too distant future, and after witnessing them live, I really can't wait to hear it.

Next up on the bill was Toxic Holocaust, a band whose set I mostly missed a few months ago when they were in S.F. supporting Gwar. I had been listening to their latest release, An Overdose Of Death… quite a bit lately, and was pretty excited to finally hear some of those songs live. Vocalist/guitar player Joel Grind did not disappoint, and he and his band mates just absolutely ripped through their set. What I really like about Toxic Holocaust is that, although Mr. Grind obviously takes a lot from his influences (Bathory, Venom, Possessed, English Dogs and Broken Bones, to name a few), he somehow makes the sound unique and not exactly like anything you have heard before. It's the perfect combination of 80's Thrash and English Hardcore, and was especially noted during "Nuke The Cross," "666," "Wild Dogs," and "War Is Hell." Joel is also a pretty awesome guitar player, and his total DIY approach to everything regarding his band is a throwback to the days early thrash. Toxic Holocaust seem to be a touring juggernaut, so chances are they will be hitting your town at some point. Don't miss them.

When the lights dimmed and only 4 guys walked out onto the stage, I began to wonder if this condensed version of 3 Inches Of Blood was going to be able live up to the 3 Inches Of Blood shows that I remembered. Well, even without the guitars of Justin Hagberg—who was filling in on bass tonight for Nick Cates—the band pretty much still kicked ass, and put on a killer set of NWOBHM inspired metal. And although they were also without additional vocalist Jamie Hooper (who has been on hiatus from the band due to a vocal injury), main vocalist Cam Pipes more than delivered the goods. For more than 90 solid minutes the band had a packed Slim's in a state of constant head banging and fist pumping, and of course kept the meatheads in the makeshift pit moshing like the drunken jocks they were. And although "Night Maruaders," "Demons Blade" and "Forest King" all sounded heavy as fuck, it was the older tracks such as "Deadly Sinners," "Premonition of Pain" and "Revenge Is A Vulture" that I was stoked to hear. I gotta admit that I was pretty surprised at just how good they sounded, even with the band being down two members. I, for one, am very glad to see that 3 Inches Of Blood have made the most of their recent string of bad luck, and am hoping they can continue to rebound and release some new material soon.

Walking out of Slim's, I could not have asked for a better show to start the new year. Here's hoping that there will be many more to follow.

3 Inches of Blood:
Toxic Holocaust:
Early Man:

3 Inches of Blood – "Deadly Sinners" – [mp3]

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