Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anvil - Canadian Metal Gods...EH!

Now before I started this blogaroo, I checked my folder with all my old handwritten notes of the record/cassette collection, and to my amazement , I had a cassingle (remember them) of Metal on Metal by Anvil, and here all this time I thought the doco about them was my first introduction to them, makes me wonder why I didnt have any of their albums at the time, maybe even Utopia records ( my purveyor of all things metal) didnt even get them imported, but thats a guess.

I'm in full agreement with Lars and Slash when they say, "What the f**k happened to Anvil, they were cool" ...after watching the doco, I think it comes down to crap managers and real bad fkn timing, I think this led to their plummeting into the abyss of non famousosity(?).....BUT...their  super fan Sasha fixed their famousosity for 'em with the movie and Lips family and Chris Tsangarides sorted the album "This is Thirteen"...oh and Lips and Rob for writing the damn thing

O.K time to drop an Anvil tale or two on you....
Toronto, Canada's Anvil were one of the first North American bands to push the sound and style of  NWOBHM one step further. Clearly they were listening to the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and many others from across the Atlantic, Anvil  played louder, faster, and heavier than their heroes, some say, laying the groundwork for the thrash movement that took over heavy metal's underground in the '80s. 

Yet unlike many of the furious West Coast thrashers that immediately followed them, Anvil were mostly out for a good time: their albums often featured mildly  pornographic sex songs, and frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow frequently took to the stage in a bondage harness and played guitar solos with a vibrator.

Dildos aside, Anvil's musical contributions were very real; their fastest songs were some of the earliest speed metal recorded, while jazz-trained drummer Robb Reiner set new technical standards for the genre, including pioneering the double bass drum technique that's become a staple of many drummers  since. Anvil's second and third albums, Metal on Metal and Forged in Fire, made significant waves in the metal community over 1982-1983, but despite the respect of musicians and metalheads alike, stardom was not to be theirs. Geographic isolation, label and management difficulties, and shifting musical trends all conspired against them, leaving them largely the province of cultists and collectors just a few short years later. Undaunted, Anvil soldiered on, continuing to record and tour whenever possible, and in 2009, a documentary film by the band's former teenage roadie threatened to break them to the wider audience they never found in their prime.

Anvil were formed in Toronto in 1978 by childhood friends Steve "Lips" Kudlow (vocals/guitar) and Robb Reiner (drums). Both came from Jewish families, and had been playing music together since their teens. Initially known as Lips, the band added bassist Ian Dickson and rhythm guitarist Dave Allison, and in 1980 recorded an independent album titled Hard 'n' Heavy, which introduced their penchant for sexual explicitness. Upon signing to the Canadian independent label Attic Records, the band changed its name to Anvil, and reissued Hard 'n' Heavy with an updated cover in 1981. 

Their groundbreaking second album, Metal on Metal, adopted a much faster, heavier style, and took the metal underground by storm. Anvil snagged opening slots on tours with the likes of Iron Maiden and Motörhead, among others, and played significant festival dates in Japan and England. The 1983 follow-up Forged in Fire refined Anvil's signature sound while adding more musical variety, and furthered their growing following.

BUT, Anvil's success stopped right there. Seeking a better stateside deal, the band's manager got them released from Attic, but a new contract never materialized. While the band hung in limbo, metal exploded -- a wave of hook-heavy pop-metal bands conquered the mainstream, while avowed Anvil fans like Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax (the latter of which started out playing Anvil covers) catapulted the genre into new realms of heaviness, far beyond anything Anvil had ever recorded. 

Attic issued a collection of hits and outtakes called Backwaxed in 1985, but the official follow-up to Forged in Fire, Strength of Steel, wasn't released until four years later in 1987, when the band licensed it to Metal Blade. Creatively disappointing, Strength of Steel effectively killed what little momentum Anvil had remaining. They recovered somewhat on 1988's heavier Pound for Pound, which featured trademark sex songs like "Safe Sex" and "Toe Jam," as well as the hockey anthem "Blood on the Ice," but it was too late. Dave Allison left the band in 1989, and was replaced by Sebastian Marino, but not before the release of that year's Past & Present: Live in Concert.

Marino's only album with Anvil was 1991's Worth the Weight, a darker, thrashier outing than anything they'd previously done. It too failed to catch on, and was followed by a lengthy recording drought. Ian Dickson called it quits in 1993, being replaced by Mike Duncan; Marino left to join Overkill in 1995 and was replaced by Ivan Hurd, while Duncan departed a year later in favor of new bassist Glenn Five (b. Glenn Gyorffy). Thus rebuilt Anvil signed with Canadian indie Hypnotic Records and issued the comeback album Plugged in Permanent in 1996, which continued the heavy, serious direction of its predecessor. 

Released in 1997, Absolutely No Alternative returned to the band's tradition of sex songs with offerings like "Show Me Your Tits" and "Hair Pie." Speed of Sound appeared in 1999 and found Reiner experimenting with the blastbeat technique for which he'd helped lay the groundwork. However, the band went with a somewhat lighter, more classic metal style for its next several albums, 2001's Plenty of Power (that featured a tribute to "Pro Wrestling", so I was happy), 2002's Still Going Strong, and 2004's Back to Basics.

In 2005, Anvil were contacted by a former roadie, Sacha Gervasi, whom they'd met as a teenager while touring England. Gervasi had grown up to become a screenwriter, most notably penning the Steven Spielberg-directed The Terminal, and wanted to film a documentary about his old friends. The result, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, chronicled Anvil's efforts to tour Europe and to record their 13th album, aptly titled This Is Thirteen, which reunited them with their early-'80s producer Chris Tsangarides. 

Without a label, Anvil opted to maximize profits by selling the album through their own website. Following Hurd's exit from the band, the film became a hit on the festival circuit in 2008, and was released in the U.K. in February 2009. Within two months, it became the highest-grossing rock documentary in U.K. history, and was quickly snapped up by VH1 for American distribution. 

Anvil! The Story of Anvil was released in the U.S. to glowing reviews in April 2009, and the band supported it with live gigs at a series of screenings around the country and a collection of brand-new songs called This Is Thirteen. In 2010 a remastered re-release of 1989's Past & Present arrived on Roadrunner, followed in 2011 by Juggernaut of Justice. After nearly 35 years of rockin', the band's fiftheenth album, Hope in Hell, arrived in 2013.

1981: Hard 'n' Heavy (Attic)
1982: Metal on Metal (Attic)
1983: Forged in Fire (Attic)
1987: Strength of Steel (Metal Blade)
1988: Pound for Pound (Metal Blade)
1992: Worth the Weight (Maximum Records)
1996: Plugged in Permanent (Hypnotic/Massacre)
1997: Absolutely No Alternative (Hypnotic/Massacre)
1999: Speed of Sound (Hypnotic/Massacre)
2001: Plenty of Power (Hypnotic/Massacre)
2002: Still Going Strong (Hypnotic/Massacre)
2004: Back to Basics (Massacre)
2007: This Is Thirteen (Independent)
2011: Juggernaut of Justice (The End Records)
2013: Hope in Hell (The End Records)

Live Albums

1989: Past and Present – Live in Concert (Metal Blade)
Compilation Albums
1985: Backwaxed (Attic)
1999: Anthology of Anvil (Metal Blade/Hypnotic)
2011: Monument of Metal (The End Records)

Steve "Lips" Kudlow – lead vocals, lead guitar (1978–present)
Robb "Robbo" Reiner – drums (1978–present)
Chris Robertson – bass guitar (2014–present)

Former members
Dave "Squirrely" Allison – guitar, vocals (1978–1989)
Ian "Dix" Dickson – bass guitar (1978–1993)
Sebastian Marino – guitar (1989–1995)
Mike Duncan – bass guitar (1993–1996)
Ivan Hurd – guitar (1995–2007)
Glenn "Glenn Five" Gyorffy – bass guitar, backing vocals (1996–2012)
Sal Italiano – bass guitar (2012–2014)

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