Type: CD Company: Screaming Ferret Release: 2004 Genre: Hard Rock Reviewer: Eric Compton Published: 8/23/2004
This one might be one of their finest moments
Anvil - Back To Basics 2004 Screaming Ferret Records reviewed by: EC
1. Fuel For The Fire 2. Keep It Up 3. Song Of Pain 4. You Get What You Pay For 5. The Chainsaw 6. Can't Catch Me (When My Pants Are Down) 7. Go Away 8. Bottom Feeder 9. Cruel World 10. Fast Driver
Twenty-three years and still going strong. Twenty-three years folks, and Canada's premier power metal act are still bang-bang-banging. It is unbelievable to me how these strong, tight-knit bands not only survive year after year, but actually thrive. They go on and on, keeping the metal torch burning brightly, never allowing the mainstream darkness to engulf the true metal underground. Anvil are leaders in a lot of ways, and with their twelfth studio album, "Back To Basics", Anvil have done just that. They have gone back to their roots, where it all started, and steadily progressed their sound simply by taking a step or two back.
Anvil have changed their output slightly over the course of twenty plus years, but have never made huge strides away from their original intentions. In the early 80s, the band emerged with a unique spin on bluesy hard rock, incorporating a heavy power vibe to their sound. In the late 80s, the group changed gears to a fast, thrash approach, increading the speed and velocity a full knob-turn, but still keeping it simple at times with chop after chop of stripped down hard rock. The group kept that same stance throughout the 90s, finally winding up at a more groove friendly sound in 2001 with the group's "Plenty Of Power" record. The band followed that with "Still Going Strong" in 2002, a record that kept the same working-man's metal 'tude, but was intensely rich with a groovy, almost mechanical delivery.
Now, in 2004, Canada's finest have gone back to the well, back to the basics with a more fundamental approach to songwriting and playing. When I hear this new record, I can't help but think of CLASSIC Anvil albums like "Metal On Metal" and "Forged In Fire". That type of songwriting has emerged from the band, those types of songs are very much alive again, and one can't help but just fall in love with the classic Anvil sound all over again. These are fine tuned, well crafted cuts that make the band seem more alive than ever before. This is Anvil. Pure working man's metal, with the power hard rock sound that has been missing for well over ten years. Riffy, humorous, and a lively good dose of heavy metal fun. This one has it all!
The same band lineup returns for this new effort, this being the same group of guys since 1997 (Lips, Reiner, Hurd, Gyorffey). From the opening track, "Fuel For The Fire", you just know this is a grand return to form. That stripped down, hard rocking flavor is very present here. In fact, the whole record seems dipped in this type of sound, the more basic approach at riffs, chorus, leads, and Reiner's excellent playing behind the kit, leading the band down a familiar road. "Keep It Up" and "Can't Catch Me (When My Pants Are Down)" are just absolutely delightful, with the band going back to the humorous songwriting. I find that fun songs seem to be a huge missing ingredient with so many bands these days. Anvil have fun here, they create funny moments on their albums, but at the same time they keep it all flowing and heavy. Bands today just don't know how to have fun musically. Its so much aggression and anger that few bands can even make the albums enjoyable.
Along with the slapstick, speed racers like "Fast Driver" and "Go Away" turn it up a notch, creating a fast frenzy of gut-wrenching high speed metal. My favorite cut is the melodic, slowly built "Song Of Pain", which adds in some finer emotional moments to the record, dishing in a slight touch of atmosphere, with a riff that just won't quit throughout. The other slower song, "Cruel World", is crafted in much the same way, but for some reason that track just seems a bit off kilter. But anyhoo, we get nine solid studio cuts from a band that really should be way past their prime, but fortunately have found the fountain of youth.
This album is as good as any prior Anvil release, and in fact this one might be one of their finest moments. Highly Recommended!
Note - The domestic release by Screaming Ferret Records also includes a bonus DVD of the band's performance at Wacken, which in its own right is a quality viewing.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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