Underrated, seldom appreciated and sometimes even unheard of, it can prove difficult when trying to explain to those not educated, the essential part of metal history that is Anvil. The once innovators and arguably the Father’s our much beloved genre, Anvil fell into myth and legend, their name finding itself at the centre of many a mosher’s tale. But as luck and some much belated dues would have it, Anvil resurged after the eye opening documentary on the band, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” dropped jaws worldwide and with that, a second chance and one sustainable career was born. ‘Pounding The Pavement’, the bands 17th album, is set for an early 2018 release and it has fans wondering; are Anvil still relevant? Or are they simply milking their namesake and a lot of well timed luck?
Album opener “Bitch In The Box” reminds us exactly what Anvil are all about. This one mans hate poem to that voice in your sat nav is chock full of power riffing, lyric spitting good fun. Blatantly naff (in the best sense of the word) and far from life changing, it remains still, almost impossible not to fall in love and give yourself over to those hilariously good chorus chants. The good fun continues, too, as the tongue in cheek “Doing What I Want” channels, if only briefly, the ghost of Motorhead’s Lemmy as Steve “Lips” Kudlow sings over some simple but exceptionally good riffing. With his thunderous, dangerous and vigorous drummer that is Robb Reiner holding down the fort, blasting his way through the record, Reiner claims ownership on tracks such as “Ego”, “Black Smoke” and title track “Pounding the Pavement”.
Sometimes the Anvil misses the mark too, however. The storytelling stylings in “Nanook of the North” feel more dated than they do stimulating, as do the views portrayed in “World of Tomorrow”. Feeling more like a melancholic lecture from your elders as opposed to any fresh or interesting viewpoints being offered, with these two tracks in particular, Anvil show (both musically and lyrically) not their age, but more so that they are still writing in the past.
The dearly and deservedly beloved documentary mentioned earlier revealed much about the band. Their commitment, perseverance and their ability to retain faith in their vision despite its more turbulent moments. Another element highlighted was the clash of the titans like hissy fits between the two founding members, particularly when writing, despite their obvious brotherhood. And this was felt on not at all, but certainly more than a few moments this side of their catalogue. Here on ‘Pounding the Pavement’, it does not seem to follow suit. Felt throughout is a stronger sense of unity, particularly on the blues driven “Rock That Shit” and adrenaline churning “Smash Your Face” to name but a few. These acknowledge, with bassist Chris Robertson, a sense of a band as opposed to three musicians just playing together, which unfortunately was felt on some of their more recent works. But not here.
While there might be some truth to the notion that Anvil is still living off much of their old school street cred, there is also something to be said about the usually overlooked luxury of having them around. One that the metal community generally takes for granted. Anvil may be spitting out 80’s style riffing with a millenial polished production, but where would metal be without it? While it would be interesting, to say the least, to see Anvil progress with the times, there’s always part of you that never wants them to change.
‘Pounding The Pavement‘ is a sat nav hating, smash your face up bating wild ride and the best installment to the Anvil catalogue in some time.