ANVIL - Legal At Last
Release date February 14/20 (AFM Records)
I remember the very day I discovered the existence of Anvil. It was May 7, 1981 and they were opening for Motorhead on the Ace of Spades tour in Toronto at two shows in a single night. My brother and I went to both shows (naturally), and by the time Anvil started into their second set of the night, we were already hard-core fans.
Almost four decades later, little has changed with these Canuck headbangers. As they release their 18th studio album, Legal at Last, they continue to play traditional, old-school heavy metal as it was in the days before a 1,000 sub-genres were birthed by Lemmy and Co. Like most Anvil albums since the 1980s, this is a bit of a mixed bag, with quite a few highs, a few lows, and a bunch in between.
One of the best songs on the album is the opener “Legal at Last” (an ode to their love of pot), and that is followed by “Nabbed in Nebraska” (the end result of their love of pot). Other stand-out tracks include “I’m Alive” and “No Time”, speedy numbers that touch on thrash elements that Anvil have toyed with over the decades, but never embraced. Another good one is “Bottom Line”, which could have been written for one of their early 1980s albums. “When All’s Been Said and Done” is a bit of a plodder, but the main riff is so catchy it could have been written by Tony Iommi himself, and I found myself humming it for days afterwards.
On the lower end, the slow as molasses “Gasoline”, as well as “Plastic in Paradise”, should have been left off this 12 track, 50-minute effort, as that would have strengthened the results. The lyrics of these and other songs like "Chemtrails" swerve into sophomoric environmentalism, and Anvil don’t have the chops of Bad Religion when it comes to handling this type of issue. Better that guitarist/vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudlow should stick with tales of getting stoned and sexual perversion: they just fit the music better.
As for the musicians themselves, Lips is still in fine form on guitar, even if his vocals are getting a bit thick with age (as happens with all aging rock stars: insert picture of Cronos here). Drummer Rob Reiner handles drum duties as he has since the 1970s, and he too sounds as good as ever.
So overall, another decent link added to the Anvil chain. If you are already a fan, then you will find lots to like here, despite a few songs that are less worthy.