Anvil – “Anvil Is Anvil” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Well, you couldn’t make a more bolder statement than that title (eh). Some 35 years on and Canada’s metal sons are still at it and doing it in the same old style. Consumed in the post NWOBHM fire sweeping the UK, Anvil’s hammering releases like ‘Hard n Heavy’, my still personal fave ‘Metal On Metal’ and the somewhat technical ‘Forged In Fire’ saw the band earn a legion of fans especially in those of us who like our metal weighty, although Anvil always added some rock n roll sass, making them cheeky youngsters, although in a nice kinda way. Management and label problems however, would cruelly deny them fame, and worse, relegate them into musical limbo and ultimate obscurity (with the German market being their sole lifeline) until Sacha Gervasi’s 2008 rockumentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” brought them back to both old and new fans once again. With new found energy, the band made “This Is Thirteen” with old friend and renowned producer Chris Tsangarides before line up changes at the bass end of the stage would continue until the recent promotion of roadie Chris Robertson. Now onto their 16th album, it’s all very much still Anvil, especially in Lip’s vocals and guitar, and of course, Robb Reiner’s still breathtaking drumming. However, I’ve never heard the band so together since those early 80s albums! It’s more than just musical tightness, which itself is more than ever in recent years but dare I say it, Anvil look and sound happier than ever before. And that must make for a good album right? Well, for a band jinxed like Anvil you might have doubts indeed, but “Anvil Is Anvil” is an excellent (enough) album. In many ways going back to the glory of “Forged In Fire” songs like ‘Up, Down, Sideways‘ are very much the contemporary equivalent to ‘Butter-Bust Jerky’ as is ‘Zombie Apocalypse‘ to ‘Winged Assassins’, now psychedelic and complete with a hilarious chanting ‘duh’ chorus of ‘zombie…zombie’ – well that’s the quirkiness of Anvil eh! Still, any smirks would be short lived after ‘Die For A Lie’, which could give Megadeth a run for their money given the blistering guitar work and Reiner’s matching technical ferocity – not to mention its fuming anti religious lyrics of ‘…fall down to your knees, down to hell if you please…’ – yeah, now that’s the kinda shit Anvil should be doing these days! Things get even better on ‘It’s Your Move’ – with hints of Lemmy in the vocal and lines like ‘…ace of spades and the joker is wild..’ it’s definitely a chugging Motor-bruiser with blinding lead breaks and even more flailing drum work – a fitting tribute to the man who in 1981 offered Lips the guitar job when Fast Eddie departed. Most impressive for me though had to be ‘Run Like Hell’, a smashing chugger of a song that really proves to old ‘eavies like me that Anvil still have mustard with its power riffing, wild breaks and an awesome drum sound where you can hear the snap of those double bass kickers – pretty insignificant unless you’re talking about one of the world’s best drummers in Robb Reiner (who incidentally painted the album cover). “Anvil Is Anvil” is more than a band philosophy, it’s a life statement.