Released: 2011, The End Records
It’s about time. This album was announced at the end of the Anvil movie way back in 2008. The gap between THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007) and JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE (2011) has been the second longest period of inactivity in the bands career, the longest being the 5-year wait between WORTH THE WEIGHT (1991) and PLUGGED IN PERMANENT (1996). I say inactivity, but that’s not really the case because of course there was the movie, the book, the tours, the TV talk show circuit and so on. It seems that all that stuff was great for the band, but for the true fans the three to four year wait for an album that was supposedly done back in 2008 in was far too long.
In an odd sense I feel qualified, for lack of a better term, to review this album, as a life-long fan. I liked BACK TO BASICS (which I reviewed on this site back in 2004) even though I don’t think I read a single good review of it. I actually bought the original pressing of last album (TiT) directly from the band, when the band was down and out. So while the band did appearances on American talk shows for people who have never bought an Anvil album in their life, we few loyal, die-hard fans sat patiently and waited…and waited.
Well, Anvil’s 14th full-length studio album is finally here and is Worth The Weight, pun fully intended. The band is back on a label, The End Records, after going to the independent route for the last one. The band has drafted Bob Marlette as producer, which is OK, he has worked with Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath so he has some limited metal cred. The album sounds really good and Lips says it’s the best sounding album they have done, but he seems to say that for many albums at the time. To me, they all sound decent, but this one does have a little extra kick.
Speaking of kick, the band does kick it up a notch with faster songs this time around than the past couple o’ slabs. ‘Cuts like ‘When All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘On Fire’ really bring the power to the proceedings. There was some early talk from Lips saying they had invented a new hybrid of Metal incorporating some jazz and to be honest I was worried that they might be grasping at straws. I’m very pleased to report there isn’t really any ‘jazz’ on the album, it’s thankfully straight-ahead Metal. The only cut that stretches the boundaries is the last cut, an instrumental called ‘Swing Thing’ which is really good. Robb Reiner puts on a drum clinic and he does have some jazzy drumming and there are some horns, but it certainly still rages along. Horns in Metal has been done a lot in the 80’s (Raven, Riot Vengeance) so it’s not as unique as one might think, but it is still a very, very good song, an album highlight for sure as the boys put on an instrumental clinic.
Overall, Lips voice is in good shape, Robb pounds away and the band churn out another 45 minutes of pure Canadian Metal. Lyrically, the lyrics seem a bit more serious, a little less of the crude humor, but it’s a deadly serious ‘comeback’, even though they never really went away. There is a longer track ‘Paranormal’ with it’s Sabbath inspired speed and riff, clocking in at 7 minutes, which is long for the band. It’s a good cut to counter-act the shorter, faster ones laced through the album.
Despite my bias and long-time appreciation of the band I can sincerely say this is one of the best albums they have ever done, easily in their top four of a long, loud and proud career. Even if the band called it quits they could hold their heads up and go out on a high note with the last laugh.