Album: Anvil is Anvil
Label: SPV STEAMHAMMER
Release Date: February 26, 2016 (ex Japan)
Anvil is Anvil. That is a ballsy statement. It means that they are Anvil and we are not; nor is anyone else. It implies a no compromise, no bullshit, take no prisoners attitude. Anvil is Anvil and only Anvil is Anvil. Period. Cool, we can dig that… but is it?
The end of February sees the iconic Canadian trio release their latest opus on German label SPV Steamhammer. The album was produced in Germany by Martin Pfeiffer and is the first for new bassist Chris Robertson. Also of note is that drummer Robb Reiner created and painted the cover. Now that we have the drier details out of he way the question needing to be asked is this: do these metal vets still have the balls and the form to back up a statement like Anvil is Anvil?
Those of you with a short attention span will be happy to hear that the answer is a resounding yes. But you need and want to know why. Read on good congregation.
The 12 track disc begins with a first for Anvil, a pirate-metal shanty titled, Daggers and Rum whose chorus features fans of the band on gang vocals. It begins with the ominous creaking and groaning of an ancient sailing ship, waves lashing and wind howling. It is an apt setting for the journey that is Anvil is Anvil, and what follows is a groovy riff driven, head-banging anthem whose chorus will have you shouting along with the gang. “Just another pirates’ day” indeed!
Next up is Up, Down, Sideways a thrashy little number that features some killer work by the rhythm section. New bassist Chris Robertson really shreds with some fine runs and alternate fills that do much more than just round out the bottom end and this is a trend that continues throughout the album. He and drummer Robb Reiner kill it.
Guitarist/Vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudrow is in fine form as well with an arsenal of heavy riffage deployed ferociously. Vocally I’ve never heard Lips in better form and he credits the presence of Robertson for that fact saying that since Chris had joined the band he (Kudrow) felt that his voice had never sounded better whether live or in studio. I concur and the evidence is found throughout the album wherein Lips’ voice is stronger than it’s ever been.
This is evident as the tracks roll by, and we are taken on a ride through straight ahead thrashers ala Runaway Train, on to the politically hot and groove-laden Gun Control to the anti-religion anthem Die For A Lie. Kudrow explains his rationale for including that track by saying in the album’s promotional package, “Religion is frequently used to involve people in military conflict. Hate in the name of God – that’s just wrong!” Amen to that brother.
Highlights beyond those tracks include the straight-ahead rocker It’s Your Move and the traditional-thrashy Fire On The Highway. Overall everything on this album is crisp and production is excellent with great clarity in the bottom end. Lips’ soloing and riffing is top-notch and I dare to say that this is by far the strongest release of Anvil’s career, including ‘back in the day’. Its quality is evident from start to finish with nothing by way of filler tracks which speaks to the attention to detail given the high level of songwriting.
I spent some time with Anvil on the 2015 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise and interviewed Lips at a local show soon after. I was struck by how genuine and open he was. The band then killed a packed room and made time for fans after the show, including a couple who had driven some 1500 kms to be there.
Anvil is Anvil. That is a ballsy statement; and one that is backed up 100% by this trio of authentic badass rock and rollers.
Reverend Rock’s Rating: 9.5/10
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