PREVIEW Keyboard neckties. 'Ludes. Neck beards. Meerkat racing. The 2005 Dan Alvarez would have told you that all of these things have a better chance at becoming popular with kids than the dork fest that is power metal. This is coming from a guy who spent his formative years listening to groups like Rhapsody, known for their symphonic epics about goblins and dragons and their uncanny ability to induce crippling bouts of prolonged virginity. So you could imagine the 2008 Dan's surprise when groups like Dragonforce, Dream Evil, and Protest the Hero began headlining shows and moving units with the very same operatic (read: cheesy) vocals and bombastic (read: indulgent) qualities I hold so dear.
One of the undisputed leaders of power metal's shocking renaissance is Vancouver sextet, 3 Inches of Blood. The armor-wearing, orc crushing they actually have a song called "Destroy the Orcs" miscreants craft technically impressive, melodically sophisticated captivating battle anthems. They are led by a twin-vocal attack, highlighted by the aptly named Cam Pipes, who recalls a young Rob Halford and who is seriously into larping. Pipes' glorious, shrill falsetto is backed by the brutal, guttural barks of second vocalist Jamie Hooper. Though Hooper had to take the year off due to throat problems related to his intense screaming, guitarist Justin Hegberg makes sure the band retains its steel by effectively stepping in for Hooper. The group's frenetic live shows seem guaranteed to go over well at the metal-friendly Slim's. Sharpen your broad sword, tap your mana, and get ready for war!
3 INCHES OF BLOOD With Toxic Holocaust and Early Man. Tues/13, 8 p.m., $15. Slim's, 333 11th St., SF. (415) 255-0333, www.slims-sf.com