Anvil Is Anvil
(Steamhammer / SPV)
For me, Canada’s Anvil has always had their share of hits and misses. Case in point, 2013’s Hope In Hell. I just couldn’t get into that one to save my life. It currently has a 57% over at Metal Archives as well. That being said, Anvil Is Anvil definitely caught my attention with the unexpected theme to piracy, “Daggers and Rum” which I thought was surprisingly good, and not quite like anything we’d ever hear from Anvil. Then we have “Gun Control” which is probably one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard from these guys since “Metal on Metal.” It’s definitely what some might consider “old man political metal” in the same vein of Dave Mustaine’s “Dystopia” but as I get older, I guess I can understand it. If you looked at Metal Archives today, you’d find that this record has a 50% review rating due to a review over at The Metal Observer where the guy picked apart the record’s lyrical content and criticized Steve Ludlow’s vocal performance for being terrible. As I dug through it, I more or less considered that the whole reason for his review was mainly just to criticize what he thought were bad vocals. Fortunately for you folks, I’ll be focusing on the record as a musical whole instead of merely dogging it’s topics and the vocal performance. So let’s throw that guy’s opinion right into the wastebasket where it belongs, and instead give this band the kind of commentary that it deserves.
“Runaway Train” is a surprisingly good track, with a speedy, yet sort of progressive flair. There’s also a truly well-done solo piece utilized within it, which makes for a major standout. I also really liked “Zombie Apocalypse” which started with a creepy riff-delay as it later introduces some thumping doom riffs. I honestly don’t have a problem with Ludlow’s voice, nor his playing and I can’t honestly see what that guy heard that irked him; but maybe that’s one of the reasons I felt it necessary to give this one a review here in New Noise Magazine instead of on my main page. That being said, the latter part of the disc isn’t quite as memorable, with “Ambushed” and “Run Like Hell” being a bit too derivative and “Fire On The Highway” being a bit of a clunker, but you’re still getting six rather solid tracks from the band, and some that you’ll actually play more than a couple of times through. I couldn’t honestly say that about Hope In Hell, which makes Anvil Is Anvil better in that regard. We’re given a rock-influenced bonus track called “Never Going To Stop” to end out the performance and it reminds me a little of Motorhead, which considering the unexpected demise of said band, is a welcome addition.
Anvil aren’t going to be winning any awards anytime soon, but I’ve heard far worse than this one and I’m pretty sure that Anvil fans are going to enjoy it, as well as rock and metal fans in general. I will agree with one thing the guy over at Metal Observer said, and that’s the fact that he felt the title fit, because Anvil are Anvil, as in – that’s pretty much what we can expect from these guys. I think the performance is much better than I would’ve expected, but that’s still not saying much. We should take note that these guys are literally on their sixteenth album (and running out of titles apparently) which really says a lot for the tracks here that manage to shine. After doing this for close to thirty years, it’s a wonder that such an ancient tempering device is still able to support the hammering of steel. Oh, I’m supposed to be talking about the band. Right, right. (The Grim Lord)