Anyone with a heart who saw the film “The Story Of Anvil” knows the endearing story of this band’s main personnel, their 35 year and recording history, their countless tours, their loyalty and their struggles. There are many long-suffering musicians in our music that can sympathise or even relate to their tale. Metal just has that effect on its purveyors. Also if you have seen the film you will know that kicking Anvil is like kicking a puppy…no, actually it’s worse, it’s like kicking a faithful Labrador who’s a bit grey round the muzzle, is a little wheezy and has a touch of arthritis, but still just wants to please and be loved. I am certainly not going to be the guy who does the kicking, so I’d really like to find plenty of positives about this new album from a band who’ve put in the years, effort, emotion and dedication. We don’t get off to a good start though…
The opener, ‘Daggers and Rum’ is a pirate-themed plod through something Running Wild would have considered, but even they would have put less nautical lyrical clichés in there. It’s not a Running Wild rip-off though as musically its Anvil doing Running Wild…and it just doesn’t really work. The album title is “Anvil Is Anvil”, not “Anvil Is Anvil Apart From The First Track Which Sounds A Bit Like Running Wild”. Which granted is a little wordy, so let’s let it slide because as the album progresses, it’s album title is much more apt. Anvil were always known for no nonsense Heavy Metal from the here-is-a-song-based-around-a-riff style of song writing, so Lips and the guys do right to go all out for that approach once more.
It’s also true that no-one really does sound exactly like Anvil, so using this tried and tested approach every other track is unmistakably Anvil. There are plenty of energetic Heavy Metal romps like ‘Up, Down, Sideways’, along with the Accept flavoured ‘Runaway Train’ and ‘It’s Your Move’ with its echoes of classic Motorhead. Anvil groove too on tracks like ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ and ‘Gun Control’, and there’s much more in between that would sit nicely on any of their first three albums. The lyrics throughout are…down to earth and honest let’s say, very NWOBHM at times, which of course they would be as this is the era they are emulating.
Anvil were there the first time around…therefore if you were there the first time, is it possible to now be classed as retro? Well, they are. This is the album for those guys I wanted to be, but I was still a primary school kid and too young to join. Those guys meeting up on a night, growing their hair, denims covered in patches, heading for the best night of the week, the night they go see a Metal band – maybe even Anvil – down at the local venue. It’s shocking for me to think that this is an era that is no more, that probably will never happen again – that those guys I SO wanted to be old enough to hang with are now actually old enough to be Grand Parents!! Shit – So am I!!!! Moving swiftly on… This is an album of its time…and that time is 1981. But that’s what it’s supposed to be – no apologies, and if that’s what their fans want then Anvil have delivered. It’s a good thing that Anvil are still around, playing music like they always have and long may they continue.
(6/10 – Andy Barker)