Anvil may be one of the most dedicated and stubborn bands to have ever existed and they are back once again with a new album. Their 17th album in fact. That album is called Pounding the Pavement. It was released on the 19th of January via Steamhammer.
The Canadian heavy metal band first released music in 1981 though formed in 1978. They released a couple of metal classics in their early albums Hard ‘n’ Heavy, Metal on Metal and Forged in Fire. After that they started to fade as the other big early 80’s bands took the reigns and raced ahead. Bands like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax started their upward curve to global super bands while Anvil stayed still. Yet still they persisted and 17 albums later, here comes another release. How commendable is that?
Watching your peers become legend while you struggle on can’t be easy but Anvil don’t care. They just persevere. Doing what they do, doing it their way as they approach nearly 4 decades of releasing music. The music hasn’t changed much – they still play a classic heavy metal style with a sprinkling of added speed. Big riffs. rough vocals and tongue in cheek lyrics are the ingredients used by Anvil still today. For better or worse, in a world of expanding genres and experimentation, Anvil are unchanged – dedicated or stagnant – definitely stubborn and persistent.
One of the things that has probably led them to this unchanged music style is the very few line up changes over the 4 decades. A couple different guitarists and bassists have come and gone over the years so the current bassist, Chris Robertson is the only non founding member having joined in 2014. The other two members of the three piece are founders Robb “Robbo” Reiner on drums and Steve “Lips” Kudlow on guitars and vocals. That’s dedication for you.
More hard rock, than metal Anvil have churned out 12 tracks, including a bonus one. Though at points in the album, the thought of an additional track feels more like a punishment than a bonus. Okay, I am probably being a little harsh here.
There are actually a few good songs, a few good riffs and plenty of solid drum beats and rhythms. It is just that even when the music is good, the lyrics are so drab and/or cheesy that it brings the good music down a notch or two. The vocals and their delivery are mostly flat and uninspiring but who can blame them. It must be hard to get enthusiastic when, for example, singing about a Sat Nav. Yep, opening track Bitch in a Box is about a Sat Nav and Anvil’s dislike of them, I think. Or maybe dislike of the voices within it. I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps it is meant to be funny but falls short with lines like “Aaaaaaah, aaaaah, aaaaaah, turn left”. Musically, the riff is fine but you forget it as you listen to the dire lyrics.
More forgettable stuff follows with a track called Nanook of the North. Nearly 6 minutes of a slow, plodding riff and dull thump of drums over boring lyrics like the chorus which is “Nan0ok, Nanook, Nan0ok of the North”. We get a 50’s or 60’s sounding track called Rock that Shit which is very much an old school rock’n’roll song – you know, like Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry or the like. It is actually pretty catchy and fun but feels completely out of place on here. Smash Your Face could have been written by a young kid with it’s silly cheesy lyrics though musically is a fun rock song.
Away from negatives for a bit though and there are some really good songs here too. The title track, Pounding the Pavement is a fun and raucous instrumental with quick drums and some great riffing and guitar melody. Ego is another quick one with a decent riff and impressive drumming and, though the chorus is pretty much just the word Ego on repeat, the singing is decent so it works.
Black Smoke is probably my favourite track on the album. Another quick one with a solid riff, thumping bass line and quick drums. Vocally Lips manages to sound a little like Lemmy so maybe it is that which makes me like the track so much. Either way it is a fast and furious rock track and works really well and has a cool solo. I also like World of Tomorrow. A bit of an ode to Black Sabbath and Sweet Leaf in particular.
Basically, when Anvil speed things up and allow the music to be at the forefront, the songs are better because you aren’t focusing on the lyrics and vocals. The slower, bluesy, groove riffs of a lot of this album give you time to focus in on Steve Kudlow and, in truth, he hasn’t got the greatest voice and the lyrics he is singing are basic and bland. Pounding the Pavement has a couple good tracks but not enough to make it a good album. There are more negatives than positives for me. There are a couple wildly out of place songs and some stinkers saved only by the occasional, solid riff monster.
If you are a huge Anvil fan who finds good in a lot of what they do, then of course you will love this. If you are not, it might be worth a spin or two for the better tracks on here but I doubt Pounding the Pavement will live long in the memory. I am certain of one thing though, in a year or maybe two, Anvil will be back with album 18 and it will probably be pretty similar to this. Anvil deserve huge respect for all that they have given, and still give to rock and metal no matter my thoughts on this particular album. They are dedicated. They are stubborn. Just remember, stubbornness isn’t always a good thing.
If you want to try it our for yourself, grab a copy of Pounding the Pavement from here. You can also pick up it, and more from Anvil, up from the Amazon links below this page. Find out more about Anvil over at their website or on Facebook. Be sure to give them a like or follow while you are there.
Pounding the Pavement by Anvil (Steamhammer)