“Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill
Myself, like a lot of people I’m sure, first heard about Anvil through their ROCK-umentary ‘The Story of Anvil’. Which is a shame, really, because the band deserves to be seen as more than just some gimmick. It’s so rare in modern times to find musicians as hard working as the guys from Anvil. They’ve been kicked down a thousand times and each and every time they claw their way back from the brink, dust themselves off, and give it another shot.
Hope in Hell is a prime example of the mentality that ‘whatever doesn’t kill you…’ yadda yadda yadda. Having only been familiar with Anvil for about five years I can only say this from a fresh perspective & not from having been with the band in the early days, but this is by far their strongest record to date. It’s metal in its purest form, lean, mean in-yo-face aggression. From the face shredding ‘Pay The Toll’ (my personal favourite) or ‘Through With You’ which seems to be the bands take on the Deep Purple classic, the record is none stop mayhem with the intense energy of the whole thing never letting up for a damn second.
Sure, vocalist Lips isn’t going to win any awards for his vocals but he is to Heavy Metal what Henry Rollins was to Hardcore Punk. The range didn’t matter because what was delivered was brutal and completely sincere. This can be seen in Lips’ lyrics too which ditch the whole overkill of metaphor seen in most Heavy Metal for a stripped down Hemingway-esque approach. Every word counts and nothing is wasted. “Shoot yourself in the foot when all’s been said and done…”
What separates Anvil from most other bands is that they’re not trying to have some bullshit tough-guy façade. They are a bunch of musicians who genuinely love the music they make and love playing it even more. This feeling is epitomised in this record with the song ‘Bad Ass Rock ‘n’ Roll’:
“Bad Ass Rock n Roll, a window to your soul,
Bad Ass Rock n Roll, having fun is our goal,
Bang your head, till you’re dead, what Metal on Metal said.”
Of course the downfall of this whole record is that it’s at least twenty years too late. The traditional Heavy Metal has been ditched for Toni & Guy haircuts, Mötley Crüe lookalikes, auto-tune and Bullet For My fucking Valentine. The only hope a true metal fan can have is that a record like this gets heard enough that it makes a few of the pretenders piss in their pansy-knickers.
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found here.