Review Summary: Still going strong ?
Anvil is here. They are back. They have returned to remind us that they will never rest on their laurels. They have no reason to do so. These guys will keep rocking until the day they die because they have nothing to lose. They know it themselves that there won’t be another opportunity like the one they missed to exploit in their early years. So what’s the point of calling it a day ? After all, music is their life and the only reason these guys are still around.
After missing their shot at glory in the early/middle 80’s, the trio from Canada refused to hang up their instruments and continued delievering their retro kind of blasting Heavy Metal in the 90’s and in the 00’s. The successful 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil
brought some unexpected fame, fuelling Anvil’s desire to keep pushing forward. It was exactly what the band needed, a reason to continue their journey. In January 2012, Glenn Gyorffy, the band’s bass player since 1996, decided he could no longer be a part of Anvil due to creative differencies with Kudlow and Reiner. Sal Italiano, a former bassist of an Iron Maiden tribute band, was his replacement with Kudlow stating that Italiano’s recruitment will benefit the group both musically and personally. But quite frankly, you won’t notice any difference as Italiano’s presence doesn’t offer anything new or revitalizing.
Hope In Hell
is Anvil’s 15th studio record and it’s truly by all means a pure Anvil record. Fused with many Classic Rock elements and less experimenting compared to it’s predecessor, Hope In Hell
is yet another testament to the band’s personal view of how badass, mean and “Metal” Rock ‘n’ Roll can really be. The album is a collection of that kind of Heavy/Speed Metal that the dudes from Canada have been playing since their early beginnings in the late 70’s. But unfortunately, that is also the weak link of the album. Anvil never really showed any signs of musical growth since their third album Forged In Fire
, and that is probably one of the many reasons they didn’t make it big. If we explore this collection a bit more, we can easily discover that the written lyrics are at some points dumb and annoying to say the least. It is true that lyrical work was never the best aspect of Anvil’s musicianship but things really hit a lyrical nadir with songs like the uproarious Shut The *** Up
. Unfortunately, there’s more to it. The album lacks consistency. Even if there are some great ideas and some interesting songs, it is not enough to counterpart the poor lyrics and the overused music. Through With You
is another reason why this album lacks imagination. It’s evidently one of the best tracks of Hope In Hell
, destined to be ranked in future lists for the 2010’s “best of guitar riffs”, only if Ritchie Blackmore hadn’t come up with his famous Smoke On The Water
riff some 30+ years before. Seriously, if there would be a song synonymous of plagiarism, that would be Through With You
So, if lame, hilarious lyrics and stale songwriting are the cons, what are the pros of Hope In Hell
? I can’t deny it, there are some positives for sure. Some of these positives can be found in the way these guys execute their studio ideas. They don’t “slip” not even for a second. Kudlow and his “brother” Reiner have formed over the years an incredibly tight partnership so the guitar-drums combined rhythm work in an Anvil record is in most cases magnificent. These two can work together with their eyes blindfolded. Apart from that, Kudlow’s honed ability of coming up with very tasty licks and clenched riffs is once again present in 3 or 4 tracks. His shred soloing skills are resemble to the likes of your typical 80’s shredder: Generic and regular but equally important for the kind of music Anvil support all these years. Furthermore, the production is great and that’s something not to be overlooked because quite often many top artists fail to deliver an album that sounds clear and loud. Experienced producer Bob Marlette sit in the producer’s chair for the second consecutive time in an Anvil record and his work is once again very positive.
On a final note, what might become noticeable is the cynical character of the record. Tracks such as the self titled, or The Fight Is Never Won
and Time Shows No Mercy
paint the portrait of this band and sums up their journey very accurately. The lyrics show that Anvil are fully aware of their current state. They will never hit the digital downloading stores and they won’t become any bigger than what they already are. They will never achieve worldwide fame and they will never have a fanbase bigger than a mere small cult following crowd. This knowledge is reflected in the lyrics of Time Shows No Mercy
Hold onto your youth, you're young as you feel and that's the truth/Fight the good fight, do it long and do it right
It is clear that the Canadians share a strong bond with the music, they have a strong affection for what they do, even after all these years, so they will keep going on. If after 14 studio albums, you haven’t somehow managed to get into their music, chances are that Hope In Hell
won’t do the trick. If however you find yourself attracted to their music, you might need to check out this album as well.
Eat Your Words
The Fight Is Never Won
Badass Rock 'n' Roll
Time Shows No Mercy