Album review: ANVIL – Hope In Hell

The End Records – Out Now.

Canadian Speed/Heavy Metal trio Anvil are, to put it simply, on fire! Since the release of the highly acclaimed documentary/movie ‘The Story Of Anvil’ back in 2009, long time friends and colleagues Steve “Lips” Kudlow (guitars/vocals) and Robb Reiner (drums) have been recording new music and performing gigs all around the world with both lightning speed and youthful energy.

Only a year and a half after “Juggernaut Of Justice” saw the light of day, the Canadian trio, with bassist Sal Italiano as the most recent addition to the band’s line up, is about to unleash yet another collection of songs upon mankind, the fifteenth (!) in line, entitled “Hope In Hell”.

Kudlow and Reiner have been recorded as being fairly content with the status of Anvil in today’s music world and that is fine as “Hope In Hell” is highly unlikely to be the album that expands the band’s loyal fan base. I mean, if you compare, on a purely technical level, albums like “Forged In Fire”, you will not find many differences, other than a massive improvement in the sound quality, courtesy of one Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper).

Apart from that, it is business as usual: the drum beats are rhythmical and inviting, the guitar solos are old-school and flamboyant, and Kudlow’s lyrics contain the passion and perhaps naivety expected from a man more than half his age. Are these not the basic ingredients of what you would describe as an entertaining album?

And that is exactly what “Hope In Hell” is – a simple, yet quite entertaining album. The opening same-titled composition is a mean, slow & heavy riffed piece that provides a solid start for the album and it is followed by the much more dynamic and flamboyant “Eat Your Words”. Incorporating a groovy riff that even Cathedral would be envious of and a ‘decent’ use of cowbell, “Through With You” is the highlight of the album and its quality is perhaps only challenged by the more classic-sounding “Flying” which is positioned half way through the album.

So what about the remaining compositions? Well, with the exception of the Punk influenced “Shut The Fuck Up” and the weirdly structured “Mankind Machine”, what you get from the band is simply crafted and honest sounding 80s Metal with a modern sound. That means that, though not ground breaking (by any strength of the imagination), songs like “Bad Ass Rock ‘n’Roll” and “Hard Wired” (bonus track) ensure that those of you who like 80s Metal get good value for your hard-earned money.

So there you have it: another Anvil album that is not destined to change the course of Heavy Metal history nor to provide these two veterans with the fame and fortune that, according to some, were stolen from them back in the 80s. So what does “Hope In Hell” do for the Canadian trio?

Well, apart from keeping their name in the spotlight, it provides their hardcore base and all those who feel inclined to support them after having seen “The Story Of Anvil”, with an album worthy of the band’s name and legacy. Not bad for a band that’s been around for thirty five years, right?

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)


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