Album Review: Anvil – Anvil is Anvil

For a band who were once on the brink of total obscurity, album sixteen is a landmark that has to be saluted. Continuing the album name tradition that started way back with Hard ‘n’ Heavy, Anvil is Anvil is a testament to commitment and sheer stubbornness.

It wouldn’t be a review about Anvil if it didn’t mention the documentary at some point. Not only was The Story of Anvil a pivotal moment in the bands career, rescuing them from that mentioned obscurity, it marked the turning point in the bands song writing. The recent albums have seen some of the better songs of Anvil’s career and Anvil is Anvil seems to set to continue that run.

This is the first album that their new bass player, Chris Robertson, features on and any question of him being “Jason-ed” is out the window. The bass is heavy and at the front throughout the album, especially on tracks like Up, Down, Sideways and Zombie Apocalypse. This is where a good deal of the albums meat comes from, the low end rumble of the bass combined with Robb Reiner’s trademark drumming is a treat in headphones.

Lyric video – Die For A Lie

The sound combined with the songwriting gives Anvil is Anvil the feeling of an 80s recording with modern day mixing. Tracks like Die For A Lie, Ambushed and Runaway Train feature the old school Anvil sound. Ambushed in particular sounds like it could have slotted into an 80s era release quite happily, and is my favourite song from the album under Runaway Train.

Though me being me, I can’t ignore the opening track. Daggers and Rum finds Anvil boarding the pirate metal ship, maybe not to the extent of Alestorm and Swashbuckle, but there’s a taste of Running Wild which is always welcome. This song sets the mood for the album.

Lips also sounds in his element, this is perhaps the best his vocals have sounded in a long time. As usual, he focuses on a story telling type of lyric which keeps you paying close attention as you want to know how the “story” ends, while the lyrics themselves visit serious aspects like gun control and light hearted tales like Daggers and Rum style material. There is the odd clunky lyric, sure, but nothing that detracts from the music as a whole.

If there is one negative aspect to the album, it’s the closing song. Not the song itself, but the track position. The album sort of ends without giving you a final slap, but in this age of listening to two or three tracks at a time on Spotify, perhaps this isn’t a big deal.

With Anvil is Anvil, the band are living up to the name. Never the band to be pigeon holed as just “thrash” or just “speed,” the album finds them straying into Black Sabbath territories with tracks like Gun Control, there’s hints of AC/DC and of course, there’s the speed metal. At the end of the day, after cultivating a unique sound for the last three decades plus with unwavering commitment, Anvil is Anvil.

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