Monument of Metal: The Very Best of ANVIL (The End Records)
Riding high of late, ANVIL has a new retrospective. These have been interesting times for the Ontario, Canada based band since the 2009 documentary ANVIL: The Story of Anvil. They have seen their album worked on in the movie widely released, toured the world at a much more professional and regular clip and released a decent new album in Juggernaut of Justice a few months back. Now comes a deluxe greatest hits package with re-recorded, live or remastered versions. While this is a no brainer purchase for their fan base, will the recent renewed interest help new fans find the band as much more than a novelty? Let’s find out!
The first good move was that the collection is not just from the early days, but celebrates their entire career. The songs were hand picked personally by the band, this is the best representation ever of the group’s history. These tracks are also indicative of the bands versatility of style be it proto-thrash, heavy metal or rock. When This Is Thirteen was re-released by VH1 in conjunction with the film the band re-recorded new updated versions of their classics and some of these like the bands biggest hit “Metal On Metal” sound terrific. The guitars snarl and cut through the speakers with a punch they never had on cassette and you can really here Robb Reiner’s pummeling drum strokes cut right through the din as well. However, if all the band had was one great song this collection wouldn’t be much of a collection now would it? “Winged Assassins” is a killer track from Forged In Fire. Insane riffage and furious sounds with all the touch stones of early thrash/NWOBHM music in place. This is followed by the more recent “666” which is one of the fastest and heaviest anthems the band has ever made. “Thumbhang” is next. The song was first talked about in the film as a forgotten jam and it is really cool to hear it fully realized now. The BLACK SABBATH doom meets classic metal sound here is great, as is Glenn Five’s bass licks. The Steve “Lipps” Kudrow signature lead guitar sound and choice sense of humor are still there after all this time. “School Love” and “Heat Sink” are more in line with the band’s early KISS and IRON MAIDEN fascinations with the latter being the better of the two. Then there is my favorite song by the band “March of The Crabs”. “March….” even as an instrumental is on par with all of the best early thrash anthems and that includes the mighty American Big Four as well. Lipps was ahead of the pack as a lead guitarist for his generation. A powerful and emotional song with excellent riffs and beats. “Plenty of Power” is another riff-fest in the JUDAS PRIEST mold while “Mothra” is another cool old school jam. The updated (1989) version of “Jackhammer” is miles above the original Metal On Metal version, where it was one of the better tracks back then. The title track off of Juggernaut of Justice still hasn’t sold me more since the early summer, but perhaps a stronger choice might have been “Swing Thing” or “When All Hell Breaks Loose”. The rest of the collection ranges from great: “Sins of The Flesh”, “Mad Dog”, “Fire In The Night” and “Park That Truck” to just okay songs like “Bottom Feeder”. Still, if you don’t know the band beyond the film and their “hits”, this is a fine entry point to a deeper listen that will give you insight into music that has sustained for over thirty years.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Tags: Anvil, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, bassist Glenn Five, Black Sabbath, drummer Robb Reiner, early 80's, guitar solos, Guitarist/singer Steve “Lipps” Kudrow, heavy metal, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Juggernaut of Justice, Keefy, Kiss, Monument of Metal: The Very Best of ANVIL, more cowbell, NWOBHM, proto-metal, ribald humor, The End Records, thrash