Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Anvil "Hope in Hell"

The “Story of Anvil” sure was a popular one a few years ago in the wake of a documentary released about the Toronto metal bands career. If you haven’t seen it, here is all you have to know; it depicted yet another of the countless bands who set out to be the next big thing but never became a Metallica or Judas Priest or even a Saxon or Accept. There was, however a point in the early 80’s when it appeared they might be. Their second album Metal on Metal was praised by metal fans and metal musicians alike for its proto-thrash sound, but due to mainly management botcheries the band just became irrelevant.

The rest of the documentary essentially showed the band playing to parties of literally ten or less, after having released another nine albums in the 20+ years since their last sort-of hit album Forged in Fire. It showed the band record and self distribute their 13th album, surprisingly called This Is Thirteen with legendary producer Chris Tsangarides (having produced Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest as well as Anvil’s second and third albums to name a few) and the documentary ended there. Well somehow the documentary became a huge hit, and it broke Anvil back in to metal relevance, most likely because the movie did a good job at showing a band at a very very low point and viewers probably thought this band deserved better. Now if you go to the right record store you can find all to almost all of their albums available. Since then they’ve released two other albums as well.

Now before I go on, I should mention that I was one of about seemingly ten people who were actually a fan of the band before the documentary hit. I have always been very fond of their debut, Hard ‘n’ Heavy especially, as well as owning a few other albums such as Pound for Pound, but any impartiality I have toward the band would have to do with about a month and a half ago. Living in the Greater Toronto Area, if you go to the right bars it’s not hard to run in to some Toronto based musicians; mostly local independent bands like Diemonds, but Anvil are known to be around as well. Well last March, at The Rockpile for a Y&T concert, I saw Anvil mainstays, vocalist guitarist SteveLips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner. I stopped Lips and told him I was a fan and shook his hand, noticing his attention was not even slightly on me. He was quick to brush me off as though he were someone of James Hetfield’s calibre. Something about a band, that at this point lost their fifteen minutes of fame not taking the time to speak to a fan really upset me, so much so that I said “I’ll never buy another of their albums again”. It’s unfortunate that they really do know how to release some good metal music.

Their 14th album Juggernaut of Justice, while a long album, had some great rejuvenated metal songs on it to make for a terrific album, outselling This Is Thirteen (albeit by only 200 copies), making up for the obscure and not completely special stuff the band was releasing between 1987 and 2004. Recently they released their fifteenth album Hope In Hell. This was released after the little incident at The Rockpile, so I was obviously not waiting at the door to pick up the album. However I gave a listen to a few samples and realized it’s practically where the band left off with their previous album, so I sucked it up and bought the album a day later.

Just like all of their relatively known albums, it starts off with the title track, which the band typically makes a slow paced heavy doom hitter. This time is no exception, with a killer guitar riff matched with Lips’ voice which has aged him in to a better metal vocalist than he was back in the 80’s (but if you were to hear him speak, you’d realize his voice actually hasn’t aged well at all...but hey, that’s heavy metal for you!), topped with a standard Lips guitar solo that is nothing special but fills the song in justifiably. Call of Duty is another doom metal sounding track on the album.

The album continues in to the familiar proto-thrash sound that the band has been remembered for on tracks such as Eat Your Words. Time Shows No Mercy is slower paced but is every bit a thrash metal song as well, as there are moments when your ears are just overcome by Robb’s double bass. The same goes with the fast riffed Mankind Machine which has elements of thrash and doom to it.

The album also has some good mid-tempo metal tracks such as Through With You, which maintains a true badass nature to its music and its machine gun of a solo. Then there are songs like The Fight Is Never Won, Pay the Toll and Flying which are fast paced and heavy, but not of a thrash nature, but regardless they are anything a metal fan would need.

Badass Rock n Roll lives up to its title. With the exception of its distortedness, it really is a rock n’ roll song and not so much a metal hit, with a good boogie of an old fashioned guitar riff and a simplified drum beat that really make this song in to a good “badass rock n roll” song like ZZ Top could make if Billy Gibbons added a little overdrive to his guitar.

The album ends on a silly goodbye, with the song Shut the Fuck Up, which by the title you can tell what you’re in for. Among the fastest songs on the entire album, hell it is the fastest song on the album, with every verse starting with “shut the fuck up” followed by an insult to whoever lips is saying it to. Musically it is the perfect way to end a metal album of this calibre, and lyrically it just gets aggression out. There really is nothing wrong with the song. It’s not the next Raining Blood, but it’s great to listen to when you need to get some anger out.

All in all, the album is filled with the same high integrity of a band that wants nothing more than to please their fans musically, similar to what they have been doing since the 2008 documentary as well as what they did in the early days of their career. The lyrics are a tad on the silly side, but such is to be expected from a band with a previous song titled Butter-Bust Jerky; it’s really just a part of the bands charm.

I hope I made it is clear that my little incident with the band did not affect my judgement on the album, in fact I feel the album should have sold more copies than it did (without mentioning numbers, let’s just say it wasn’t quite the album sales of their last two albums). A month ago I would have been happy at that fact, but after having listened to the album and getting the clear idea that the band has the best intention of heavy metal on their minds, I believe more people should hear and enjoy the album.


The Fight Is Never Won” –­ As previously mentioned, it’s not a thrash-heavy track but it is among the fast and aggressive track. It is the perfect first song for someone to listen to; it gives the general idea of how heavy the album can be, as well it shows how serious the band is about their music. It is guitar driven enough to please classic heavy metal fans and drum driven enough to please the thrash fans who may listen to the track.



7.5 (Out of 10)


Track List:

"Hope in Hell"  
"Eat Your Words"  
"Through with You"  
"The Fight is Never Won"  
"Pay the Toll"  
"Call of Duty"  
"Badass Rock 'n' Roll"  
"Time Shows No Mercy"  
"Mankind Machine"  
"Shut the Fuck Up"  

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