The Goatriders Horde approaches, cloven hooves clacking ominously on frost-hardened tundra. Ice balls rain from the sky directly into skulls, causing insanity. Enormous trees, limbs unbowed by wintry conditions, violently avenge fallen timber. 3 Inches of Blood makes some grim lyrical predictions, but as long as you're willing to echo its sacred mantras ("none can match the metal," "heavy metal is our light"), the group will offer powerful musical protection against orcs, Lady Deathwish, night marauders, and other ghastly enemies. Jamie Hooper, known for his burly battle cry, has suffered an injury to his vaunted larynx, leaving his vocal duties to excellently named bandmates Cam Pipes (falsetto wailer) and Justin Hagberg (substitute shouting brute). "Trial of Champions," the title track of this Vancouver-based Viking crew's latest EP, celebrates a gladiator winning his freedom, but it doubles as a description of the ferocious mosh pits at its gigs.