Whatever you think of Canadian power trio Anvil, there is no band more dedicated to the Metal cause than Steve’ Lips’ Kudlow, Robb Reiner, and bassist Chris Robertson. The fact that the band are now about to launch album number 19 says it all.
Anvil – Impact Is Imminent (AFM Records)
Release Date: 20 May 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
Much of their career is well charted, with low points in the ’90s and 2000s heartbreaking, but it is fair to say that in recent years the band has enjoyed a return to levels of popularity that they initially experienced in the early ’80s when they experienced in the middle part of their journey.
From the starting point in 1978, the band has always been about driving riffs, heads down no nonsense Metal with melodies that make songs both catchy and memorable. It was 82’s Metal On Metal that first caught my attention, closely followed by Forged in Fire, both albums now regarded as the finest within the band’s catalogue.
Whilst Anvil Is Anvil and Pounding The Pavement were both solid releases, 2019’s Legal At Last was not so good in my view, and so it was with both interest and trepidation that I launched into track one, Take A Lesson. With a recording of a live introduction as the intro, this is staple Anvil fare, with the music far outstripping the vocals, which have always been the band’s weakest component.
However, Robb Reiner’s drumming remains as bruisingly heavy as ever, and his thunderous delivery on Ghost Shadows is a reminder of what a powerhouse he is. Anvil usually has a couple of absolute pounders on every album, and this is one of them. It is Heavy Metal as you would want it, and the ferocity is intense with ‘Lips’ riffing furiously.
From here on, it is a case of wading through the remaining 12 tracks and picking out the better tracks from the inevitable stragglers. ‘Lips’ honesty has always been endearing, but there is a formulaic approach to his lyrics. Another Gun Fight is a prime example, whilst Bad Side of Town, despite more Reiner heroics, sits alongside it in the quickly forgotten pile.
Robertson maintains the quality he has brought to the band with his backing vocals and a solid interlocking with Reiner, providing ‘Lips’ opportunity to demonstrate his guitar work, which remains impressive all these years on.
The riff on Fire Rain leads to a muscular track that gets the head nodding and sees some of ‘Lips’ most expressive and fluid guitar playing. There is also a humorous instrumental called Teabag (oo-er!) which sees the band let loose with a bit of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, and for all the rubbish thrown at them over the years, this is a track that demonstrates that the band can certainly play. It is one to bring a smile to the face.
As always, Anvil makes some social commentary within their music. Lockdown is the obvious one, and when one considers the punitive approach that their government has taken over the past two years, it is not a surprise they chose to tackle it.
Ghost Shadow could be interpreted as being trolled on the internet, whilst Explosive Energy, well, it could be a take on the fuel crisis, a power energy drink or about the band’s own indefatigable drive!
Impact Is Imminent is certainly an improvement on Legal At Last. The playing is more fluid, the cohesion top drawer, and overall, the tracks are thumpingly heavy and much better written.
Even the last track, Gomez, with its big band feel and brass section, works surprisingly well and finishes the whole album with a bang.
There remains plenty of life in Anvil yet. Number 20 should be fabulous.
Impact Is Imminent can be pre-ordered from shop.afm-records.de/anvil