Anvil - a name I think most Rock and Metal fans know. Back in the 80s they were a new upcoming band who looked like having a bright future.
Unfortunately it all went a little wrong and they slipped out of the limelight for years but they kept plugging away at it writing and releasing albums but no one, apart from the die-hard fans, took any notice. This all changed in 2009 with the release of a film, 'Anvil! The Story Of Anvil' which brought the band back to the attention of old fans and the music press.
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Following the success of the film the band have gone on to play headline shows across Europe and also played alongside Alice Cooper and Saxon. This was in support of their 14th studio album, 'Juggernaut Of Justice'.
For a band so long ignored, 14 albums in 20 years is pretty impressive and here we have two '2 In 1' special edition reissues which currently mark, roughly, the mid-point of the band's career. 'Plugged In Permanent' (1996) and 'Absolutely No Alternative' (1997) make up the first release while 'Speed Of Sound' (1999) and 'Plenty Of Power' (2001) make up the second release.
'Plugged In Permanently' was the band's first album after a few years without a deal and listening to it now just shows that the years between the releases didn't dampen their spirits. The opener, 'Racial Hostility', sets the album up well with some nice speed Metal guitar work. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein with standout tracks for me being 'Destined For Doom' which has a great guitar solo, 'Smoking Green' which is a real thrashy number and 'Five Knuckle Shuffle', not just for its title but also its catchy guitar riff and funny lyrics.
'Absolutely No Alternative' followed a year later and it really picks up exactly where 'Plugged...' left off, well almost. Opening track 'Old School' sounds different as it's written over a drum exercise Rob Reiner wrote. The first time I heard this I thought this was showing a change in direction for the band. I was wrong as the rest of the album goes back to what Anvil do best – straight forward, no messing thrash/speed Metal.
There are only really two stand out tracks on this album, 'Old School' and 'Show Me Your Tits' (which sound very much like Motörhead). The rest of the album is good but nothing really stands out and nothing is a real progression from previous Anvil albums.
'Speed Of Sound' is the bands ninth studio album and by now it was obvious that the band were sticking to their guns sound wise. It is another great speed/thrash album with some great playing throughout. It does sound like they are still trying to sound like Motörhead at times but that's not a bad thing!
The opening track is probably the best track on the album. It's a real rocker of a track with some great solo work over the bridges and a catchy chorus. Another stand out track is 'No Evil' where the band actually use some keyboards and effects and they slow down at some points to a more doom Metal vibe.
As with 'Absolutely...', most of the album is competent and well produced but offers nothing new to the listener musically. But for the first time there are a few under par songs on the album. 'Bullshit' and 'Secret Agent' both seem to be filler tracks and just don't have the riffs that Anvil have always been so good at writing.
Finally we have 'Plenty Of Power' which is a little different to the other three albums here (but not much). The previous albums are all very heavy in their sound here we see Anvil changing the sound a little and coming across with a more classic Metal sound.
The guitar riffs are crisper, the sound is more trebly and Lips' vocals are not all in the lower range so we get a different sound. Stand out tracks are 'Ball Of Fire' and 'Disgruntled'. Both have some great chugging riffs and some nice drum work.
Overall these albums don't really progress much musically and to be honest the sound they have so doggedly stuck to went out of date and some fine Metal albums have gone under the radar.
The music is well played, the songs are, in the most part, full of well written riffs and each album carries it's fair share of tongue in cheek titles/lyrics which are a trademark of the band.
Anvil has been the influence for a lot of the more popular artists out there – Anthrax, Metallica, Motörhead and countless other thrash bands. Listening to these albums you can hear why.
If your either looking to re-acquaint yourself with a band you'd forgotten about or just want to hear some classic thrash Metal then you will not go too far wrong with these releases.