F U L L . R E V I E W S


Anvil
Back To Basics
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

Track Listing
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.


--EC 08.20.04
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.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ANVIL
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Back To BasicsAnvil
2004
Ken Pierce2/27/2005
Back To BasicsAnvil
2004
Eric Compton8/23/2004
Juggernaut Of JusticeAnvil
2011
Eric Compton6/3/2011
Still Going StrongAnvil
2002
Eric Compton1/26/2003


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ANVIL
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Anvil Is AnvilAnvil
2016
Eric Compton3/17/2016
Juggernaut of JusticeAnvil
2011
Chris Kincaid5/16/2011
Pounding the PavementAnvil
2018
Eric Compton2/9/2018


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ANVIL
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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