Album review: ANVIL – Legal At Last

ANVIL - Legal At Last

AFM Records [Release date 14.02.20]

It’s impossible not to love Anvil. Sure, prior to the 2008 ‘Anvil! The Story of Anvil’ documentary they were just scratching a living, playing anywhere and everywhere that would have them but that film was a total game changer and brought them the exposure they deserved and the affection of rock and metal fans all over the planet.

Despite being lauded by many of their peers when they formed and having been on course for mega stardom it seems like the public just weren’t ready for them, S&M gear and vibrator guitar solo replete (as anyone who witnessed their reception at the 1983 Reading Festival will attest).

Being ahead of your time can be frustrating, especially when, like Diamond Head before them, Anvil inspired some of the biggest bands in the world and it’s doubtful that the trash metal movement would have happened without them. kept the faith though and, through that determined commitment to their music and friendship, are one of the best loved bands on the circuit today.

A string of well received albums since their ‘comeback’ release ‘This Is Thirteen’ has shown that they still have a huge amount to offer with their last release, 2018’s ‘Pounding the Pavement’, being hailed as one of their finest.

Fast forward to now and ‘Legal at Last’ is waiting in the wings, ready to be unleased on the waiting world at the start of this next decade. Sporting a pretty questionable cover (and that’s being generous), thankfully the music is sprinkled with the same magic and tongue in cheek humour that we have all come to know and shows a mix of bands they have influenced as well as being influenced by.

Starting with the sound of a bong, it’s pretty much business as usual in their full-frontal assault on the senses as they tear into the title track, jackhammer drumming, vocal harmonies and ultra-fast soloing screaming out of the speakers. ‘Nabbed in Nebraska’ and ‘Chemtrails’ are old school thrashers and join the outstanding ‘Bottom Line’ in having echoes of the aggression of Motorhead, their touring partners in 1983.

Elsewhere ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Plastic in Paradise’ have the sort of heavy doom metal sound of early Black Sabbath but all given a very Anvil spin and this homage to the roots of metal works incredibly well, giving the album some real textures. ‘Talking To The Wall’ is a huge, building track that powerfully pummels and ‘Food for the Vulture’ switches between dynamics and shows that, again, it doesn’t have to be a race to the finish to be bone crushingly heavy.

There are many highlights on the album and it’s an unfolding pleasure to sit and absorb the whole thing. Finishing the album, ‘bonus’ track ‘No Time’ is aptly named as it rampages to an ultra-speedy finish, leaving the listener breathless, battered and bruised. Anvil, yet again, have shown why they are still as relevant as they first were and, for a metal band fast approaching their fifth decade, that’s one heck of a feat. ****

Review by Paul Monkhouse

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