I must confess from the start, I took on this band Black Anvil for review having never previously heard them, I was intrigued by them, based mainly on an old theory I had drummed into me by one of my most underground black metal obsessed friends.
When being subjected to all new manners of filthy black metal by my friends as a teenager, the controversial opinion was offered up over and over again that any American black metal band will always be Shite, no reason why, just the stubborn opinion that Americans can not make black metal. I always fancied myself as being a lot more open minded than that so would always give things the time of day, but nearly 15 years later my friend has yet to be proven wrong, [oh don’t get me started proving him wrong ED] so when I saw this band pop up I jumped on the chance of getting my hands on some new U.S black metal, especially since they are signed to Relapse, they have got to be awesome right?….. Well.
Everything starts off well, after a little acoustic intro the riffs kick in, typical old school black metal groove, vocals and drums are all very uniform and very much what you expect from this sort of stuff, giving off an old school “Immortal” sort of vibe with tinges of the good old black and roll.
Nothing really original or surprising but pretty much what you would expect, however a couple of minutes into the first track and things suddenly change, with the introduction of clean backing vocals, and some generic rock and roll riffs, neither of which sat well with me at all.
I don’t mean to be harsh at all but the inclusion of these elements is to my ears very half hearted and pretty badly implemented, and just really made me wish they had to stuck to what I first deemed as a generic sound.
As the album goes on these elements continue to crop up with some frequency, as well as the occasional “hardcore” backing chant vocals which I found even less tolerable.
I hate to sound negative as I try to see the best in bands when reviewing as there is enough band slagging on the internet, but with that said I would be lying if I said anything other than I really don’t like this album very much at all.
It does have its strong points for sure, the playing is very competent throughout, the production is well done and there is plenty of variation, it’s a long album with a lot going on and there are some sections that are really strong on it, but just as often there are parts that just sound out of place and lacking the focus to decide what sort of band they want to be.
I will say this, there are quite a few parts that drop into some good old fashioned heavy metal and this is where they sound at their strongest and most comfortable, if they focused more on that aspect in the future then they could make something considerably better than this album.
So although it does pick up in the second half, I still find that overall this album really doesn’t do it for me at all, but that’s just my opinion and by all means go ahead and check it out anyway, I’m sure there are a lot of less jaded metalheads out there that will probably enjoy this album, but for me I just couldn’t get on with it.
So I guess for now my old friend’s stubborn opinion about Americans and black metal has still unfortunately got some truth to it, although I remain hopeful that one day they shall be proven wrong.
(5.5/10 Mark Gleed )