CD Review: Anvil – Anvil Is Anvil

CD Review: Anvil – Anvil Is Anvil
All Access Rating: B+

Anvil - Anvil Is Anvil 2016
Leave it to Anvil to record a wickedly playful, heavy-metal sea shanty about pirate mythology. Heaving to and fro, like a massive, creaking ship tossed about by stormy seas, "Daggers and Rum" – rife with stereotypes as it is – flies the Jolly Roger with a knife between its rotten teeth and a black heart that lusts for treasure.

It would make a fine drinking song if nothing else, and as Anvil always seems fond of history and a good gimmick – who doesn't get a childish chuckle from seeing Steven "Lips" Kudlow play a guitar with a vibrator? – the steady, relentless march of "Daggers and Rum" could be another "15 Men On a Dead Man's Chest" for a new generation. At the very least, it's an unexpectedly theatrical and fun opening to the Steamhammer/SPV release Anvil Is Anvil, a good, satisfying meal of simple, meat-and-potatoes metal from the resilient underdog trio of Kudlow, Robb Reiner and new bassist Chris Robertson.

Hard to believe it's been eight long years since the rockumentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" brought them temporary fame that quickly faded. Anvil Is Anvil does feature moments of inspired performances, creative vitality and focused intensity and drive, as Reiner's impressive drumming again steals the show. Still, despite the high-energy attack of "Up, Down, Sideways," the strong, sure hooks and rugged AC/DC-style riffs of "Ambushed," the thrashing excitement of "Fire on the Highway" and the raw horsepower of "It's Your Move" – a Motorhead-like rave-up that serves as an homage to the late Lemmy Kilmister and his former band – Anvil Is Anvil's flagging, pedestrian midsection and the unwillingness of these shaggy old dogs to learn new tricks make it unlikely legions of new members will flock to join the Metal Pounders' Union.

Nevertheless, Anvil is worth rooting for, the self-deprecating humor of the cover being one reason. Another has to do with their willingness to tackle controversial subjects head on, as they rumble and grind through "Gun Control" like tanks and skewer religious justification for war and hate without mercy on an otherwise flaccid "Die For a Lie." This is Anvil, for better or worse, still as capable of delivering blazing, rip-roaring metal anthems as they are of falling flat on their faces.
– Peter Lindblad                                                      

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