Released: 2016, SPV GmbH
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The career trajectory taken by Canada’s plucky Anvil was well-documented and lauded in THIS IS ANVIL, the 2008 film that brought to light the influence and hardships faced by the band. Puffed up by all the attention, Anvil was finally in the spotlight and in true form, obstacles continued to be thrown at the band in the eight years hence. New bassist Chris Robertson is the third person in the position in the last three years, although he is reportedly a long-time associate of the band. As for the music, Anvil’s recorded output has always been hit-and-miss. For every FORGED IN FIRE and JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE that saw Anvil’s profile rise, there was a BACK TO BASICS and HOPE IN HELL that sunk the rising momentum. Admittedly, with sixteen studio albums now to its credit, there are bound to be some duds in there but Anvil’s latest release, the simply-titled ANVIL IS ANVIL, is a real bright spot in the band’s shaky catalogue.
What becomes immediately apparent is the melodic quality that was severely lacking on 2014’s HOPE IS HELL. As a complete package, ANVIL IS ANVIL contains arguably the band’s most memorable batch of songs. Lead-off track “Daggers And Rum” features a chorus just begging to be chanted by thousands during the summer European festival runs. Lips throws down some ridiculously hooky riffs on “Runaway Train” and the solos on “Up, Down, Sideways” and “Zombie Apocalypse” will stick in your head immediately. Always the drum monster behind the kit, Robb Reiner (who also painted the album cover) opens “Die For A Lie” with a thunderous salvo, while “Fire On The Highway,” “Run Like Hell,” “Forgive Don’t Forget” and “Never Going To Stop” showcase the ageless power of Reiner’s notorious double bass drumming. The dirge-like qualities of “Zombie Apocalypse” and “Gun Control” are off-set nicely with the pedal-to-the-metal pacing of “Runaway Train” and “It’s Your Move” (don’t miss the brief nod to Motörhead) giving ANVIL IS ANVIL a true representation of the band’s overall sound.
Anvil could easily go out on a high note with this record, even though “Never Going To Stop” quickly silences any deliberation that the band is even considering retirement upon their 35th anniversary. I would put ANVIL IS ANVIL among the band’s top five records ever, which is a bold statement given the history but this is a real surprise of a record. My last stab at reviewing an Anvil release (2004’s dismal BACK TO BASICS) was an unpleasant experience and it became clear many other fans shared in my pain. Thankfully, Anvil is a different band these days with ANVIL IS ANVIL recapturing all the heavy metal splendor fans have come to expect.
KILLER KUTS: “Daggers And Rum,” “Up, Down, Sideways,” “Gun Control,” “Runaway Train,” “Zombie Apocalypse”