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Album Review : Anvil – One and Only 

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Review by Rob Broom for MPM

The Canadian pounders blast back with their 20th album.

Back in the early 1980s Anvil looked poised for major success. Positive reviews of the debut album ‘Hard N’ Heavy’ had been followed by the titanic (and essential) ‘Metal On Metal’ album.

Following that was the almost as awesome ‘Forged In Fire’. What could go wrong? Well seemingly everything, despite the efforts of the band. Trends in the music business changed and the band just didn’t get that final break to propel them forward.

To find out more about what happened and those intervening years  ‘The ‘Anvil! The Story Of Anvil’ documentary is essential viewing, telling as it does the story of a hardworking band on the road. Released in 2008, the critically acclaimed movie covers the highs and lows of a band trying to make ends meet. It’s a mix of humour, adversity and tears moments, backed by some great music, highlighting the influence they had on some of the mega bands that formed in the early to mid 1980s in their wake.

The movie reintroduced Anvil to the rock audience and their careers picked up as they got some decent support slots with major bands. Throughout all this, they did continue to record and release albums.

Originally a quartet, hailing from Toronto, members Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow (guitar and vocals) and Robb Reiner (drums) are joined by Chris Robertson (bass, he’s only been with the band for 10 years!) and make a formidable power trio. 

Opening cuts ‘One And Only’ and ‘Feed Your Fantasy’ set the tone. Pumping, straightforward pounding hard rock with easily accessible hooks. Played live, these are going to be instant fists in the air and heads down no nonsense singalongs.

Third track ‘Fight For Your Rights’ raises a flag for me though, but in a good way! It reminds me of Motörhead from the latter years, when it was Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee smashing out the tunes. It’s a fast paced snarling triumph and with that memory reawakened (as I am a massive Motörhead fan) sets an extremely positive vibe and expectation for the rest of the album (and as it turns out, I am not disappointed).

Next song ‘Heartbroken’ is a slower grinding affair with some tremendous guitar play from Lips, which perhaps explains why, when Fast Eddie left Motörhead, Lemmy apparently asked the then young Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow to join the band ( and to state the obvious, Lips said no and stuck with Anvil) as he shows some versatility here (and elsewhere on the album) with his versatile guitar playing. 

Fifth song in ‘Gold And Diamonds’ is a flip back to the structure of the first two tunes. The lyric deals with our perceived value of these possessions. All three band members sync together to generate a thunderous rhythm. 

With sixth cut ‘Dead Man Shoes’, the band pick up the pace. It is fast and furious, arguably one of the best on the album, but there are a number of contenders for that title! Rob Reiner certainly demonstrates his ability to pound the drums like there’s no tomorrow!

‘Truth Is Dying’ was the first release to YouTube from this album and it – like most of the other songs on the album – has some well thought out lyrics. Anvils previous albums have often been littered with what today we might think of as ‘sexually inappropriate’ lyrics although that potentially devalues some of the tremendous music that underpinned the songs. This album contains none of that, it just concentrates on delivering infectious, solid hard/heavy rock to pound your head along to!

Eighth track ‘ Rocking The World’ keeps the riffs coming with yet another catchy chorus and is followed by the humorous ‘Run Away’ which has another catchy chorus that will no doubt get the crowds hollering along in support! Lips solos away into his own world of bliss and make no mistake this is a tremendous slice of rock and roll. 

Arguably the final three tracks on the album are the closest to what we might think of as classic ‘Anvil being Anvil’. They are all powerful chest thumping monsters with some great lyrics, but each with a different musical tempo. 

‘World Of Fools’ continues the themes started in Truth Is Dying while penultimate track ‘Condemned Liberty’ is a smouldering, brooding beast that constantly threatens to to reach out and smash your face into a wall. The delivery reminds me in part of Lard (the Jello Biafra and Ministry combo), but it is undoubtably Anvil!

Final cut ‘Blind Rage’ lets the band stretch their musical muscles one more time. It doesn’t hang around and the drumming is awesome!

Considering all the adversity Anvil have faced over the years, its no mean feat to acknowledge that not only are they still out there touring, they are able to record such a quality, solid set of songs. The three band members still obviously have a passion for what they are doing and that shines through on this album. All these songs could be played live and crush the audience. Whilst I have followed Anvil via social media for a number of years (and all those years ago, bought those early albums as they were released, I still play ‘Metal On Metal’ regularly, ‘Mothra’ is a stunning track), they are one of the few bands that I haven’t managed to catch live that I would still like to see and also, it seems there are a number of albums in the intervening years for me to check out – an exciting prospect!

Huge chunks of this album brought a big smile to my face, and I hope when you listen, it does the same for you. It truly is a wonderful album that captures perfectly the vibe of the classic heavy rock sound with modern groove and power. Repeated listening just adds to the experience.

Go buy it now!

One And Only’ track listing:
01 – One And Only
02 – Feed Your Fantasy
03 – Fight For Your Rights
04 – Heartbroken
05 – Gold And Diamonds
06 – Dead Man Shoes
07 – Truth Is Dying
08 – Rocking The World
09 – Run Away
10 – World Of Fools
11 – Condemned Liberty
12 – Blind Rage
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