Nothing’s free, pay for it all, can’t you see…
In the case of Anvil, truer lyrics have never been written. Who would have thought, 30 years after getting together, that they would finally find a measure of success? The recent documentary Anvil! The Story Of Anvil has received wide-spread critical acclaim, and I think that its pending DVD release will be huge.
But what about the music? Way back in 1982, I was a huge New Wave Of British Heavy Metal fan. I bought Anvil’s Metal On Metal based on the cover alone, and was not disappointed. Even though these guys were Canadian rather than British, it hardly mattered. The music fit right in with the Saxon, Raven, and Tygers Of Pan Tang records I was listening to.
This Is Thirteen is their latest. It was originally released in 2007, available only via the band’s website. In conjunction with the film, the newly formed VH1 Classic Records has just reissued This Is Thirteen with a bonus track.
And you know what? They still rock. I had completely forgotten about Anvil, until the documentary came out. So when the opening power chords of the title song kicked in, it was a genuine surprise to hear how good they still are.
Of course you have to wonder. How strong can a record by guys in their fifties be? Cut for cut, I’ll stack This Is Thirteen up against just about any metal record I have heard this year.
“Burning Bridges” contains the first of many shredding guitar solos by founding member Steve “Lips” Kudlow. Robb Reiner, who has been drumming with Lips since they were kids in 1973, is a powerhouse. His playing is exceptional throughout, especially on “Room #9,” and “Axe To Grind.”
The bonus track, “Thumb Hang” is a showcase for (relative) newcomer Glenn Five’s rhythm guitar. It is kind of a riffology seminar, and notably good. I’m a little surprised they left this song off the original This Is Thirteen release.
The closest band I can compare them to is Motorhead. Lips’ vocals sound uncannily similar to Lemmy’s on “Ready To Fight,” and “Should’ A Would’ A’ Could’ A.” In fact, back in 1982, Lips declined an invitation to replace Fast Eddie Clark in Motorhead.
Anvil! The Story Of Anvil is being touted as the “feel good” rock-doc of the year, and it’s great. But what seals the deal is the fact that Anvil still have the chops to matter all these years later.
This Is Thirteen is a surprisingly solid metal album. The NWOBHM may not be new anymore, but Anvil rock it like it’s 1980 all over again. For us graying head-bangers, there’s nothing out there quite like it.