ALBUM REVIEW: Impact is imminent – Anvil
For a band that never achieved the fame of its many successors, ANVIL barely needs an introduction. The founding members of the group, singer and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Rob Reiner (along with several others), have delivered on solid heavy metal albums to consistent skin since the early 80s. Throughout, ANVIL defiantly stayed the course, ignoring trends not only in mainstream music, but also in the metal subgenre itself. Similar to a group like SAXONa ANVIL release is a stylistic time capsule of a certain era of heavy metal – just with increasingly stripped down production values. Their latest, The impact is imminentis no different, walking the same way ANVIL-the flattened path the band has always followed – a mix of NWOBHM influences and precursor elements of thrash and speed.
True to its name, the album got off to a hard-hitting start. The threatening kick from the opener take a lesson sees Kudlow recount the ups and downs of his career, paint ANVILthe story of as a cautionary tale of the music industry. The band’s playing is tight and urgent, with the marching power chords providing the thunderous base for Kudlowbefore it all erupts with a necessarily furious guitar solo. Although on the heavier side of the album, it sets the tone perfectly.
All along The impact is imminent, ANVIL veer between the two sides of a heavy metal generation shift, the tipping point between the 70s and 80s decades. On the older side you have cuts like Fire Rain. With its swaggering riff and simple, catchy chorus, it almost sounds like a drop of JUDAS PRIESTit is Killing machine or British steel. Elsewhere, channeling the more mid-70s rock sound is (the tongue-in-cheek title) Do not look back – a track with shades of KISS and THE CULT OF THE BLUE OYSTER as if executed by METALLIC. On the other hand, elsewhere ANVIL lean heavily on the metal sound they helped create (or at least prototype). someone to hate it sounds early SURPLUS with the BPM lowered, its lightning-fast guitar leads countered by punk guitar riffs and call-and-response gang squeals.
When they have a little more fire in their bellies, ANVIL are at their best, and the venom of someone to hate is a highlight of the album. Similarly, the strut blues metal of Another shootout allow Kudlow to release its best grunts to the rhythm of an infernal shuffle. Speaking of shuffles, it would be remiss not to mention Impactthe duology of instruments, Tea bag and Gomez. Seemingly two variations of the same track, the tracks are above the best thrashy blues jams where the ANVIL the guys let off steam a bit. Although it’s a bit redundant to have two versions of the same track in the album itself, GomezThe big band horn section is just plain fun.
Although generally enjoyable, there are a few times when The impact is imminent falls flat though. One of ANVILThe most divisive elements have always been the vocals. While certainly distinctive and full of character, KudlowThe voice of often becomes tense as soon as she tries a melody with more than a few notes, as on ghost shadow. While at this point Kudlowvoice is one of ANVIL‘s idiosyncrasies, it’s hard not to imagine how a louder voice would handle these tracks. Moreover, those who have even a limited knowledge of ANVIL will be aware that they often stray from the line between parody and sincerity (and often with a knowing wink), but Impact some VERTICAL REMINDER resounds within it. The biggest culprit is Lockdown, a song that unintentionally turns into hilarity thanks to its extremely on-the-nose references to the pandemic. The rhymes “quarantine”, “COVID-19” and “vaccine” really stray from a fine line between genius and ridiculous.
Through every track on The impact is imminentit is quite clear that ANVIL create music only for themselves and for the faithful ANVIL loyalists. They’re not here to win new fans or to experiment and push the boundaries of the genre; they’re just here to add another solid piece of metal to their growing collection. Determination is certainly commendable, but it also means you know exactly what you’re getting out of it. The impact is imminent before coming in. True to form, don’t expect surprises ANVIL – just reliable heavy metal.
Impact Is Imminent is set for release on May 20 via AFM Records.
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