Home / Album Reviews / Anvil – Still Going Strong and Back To Basics and This Is Thirteen (re-releases) [3-in-1]

Anvil – Still Going Strong and Back To Basics and This Is Thirteen (re-releases) [3-in-1]

 

Their current 2012 tour ended  in 2 triumphant European performances. Headlining the main stage at the Swedish Rock Festival on August 10th and a main stage slot in the UK at Bloodstock Open Air on August 12th, Anvil keep their resurgence going by having their 11th,12th and 13th studio albums re-released on Sept.24th via SPV/Steamhammer Records.

Still Going Strong and Back To Basics will come in a high class “2 in 1” double digipack cd format, complete with new booklets containing liner notes from Lips and Robb Reiner + new photos. This Is Thirteen will be released in cd and vinyl formats. The cd will also be a digi pack and the vinyl will be a double gatefold affair. Both formats will contain the bonus track Thumb Hang!

Still Going Strong was originally released in 2002 via Attic Records and saw the band going through frustrating times. They were unable to tour the album apart from one Greek date. As the album cover depicts an Atlas type figure holding a giant anvil on his shoulder, a Greek promoter flew the band over from Toronto to play a show in Athens. The abum starts off with one of Anvil’s finest tunes, the utterly catchy but heavy Race Against Time. Easily the best track on the album and a very hard act to follow. Lips has not written many better riffs than this as it hurtles towards a tasty wah-wah solo with Robb Reiner pounding the track to a close. Other highlights are next track In Hell, it’s stop/start crunching main riff precedes a fine Lips vocal, hitting some high notes with vigour! Holy Wood’s grinding riff backs up a Lips rant against television evangelists as he delivers the chorus of  “Holy wood,holy shit!” , with Robb adding some cowbell in between his fills.  The album’s title track kicks off with a fluid Lips riff and goes on to name check vintage performers like Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Black Sabbath, highlighting that rock and roll is here to stay. Don’t Ask Me has a huge crunching riff throughout, Lips’ lyrics reflect his concern over man’s destruction of the planet with some fiery twin lead guitar work 2.30 minutes in. White Rhino is an instrumental, only being dropped from Anvil’s live set just over a year ago. It’s purpose is to highlight the talents of drummer Robb Reiner as he destroys his kit after a mini  jam from Lips and G5, and finally, closing track Defiant with a marching tempo, Lips’ lyrics again telling how he lives his life, interspersed with more shredding twin leads from him and Ivan Hurd.

It would be another 2 years until Anvil’s next studio release. Back To Basics, released via Attic Records and  Massacre Records. It  is a very strong album but suffered by a poor production due to no financial backing from Massacre. A good argument  for this album to be re-mastered and not just re-released!  Once again, tour dates were few and far between with only a few festival slots and Canadian dates possible. Back To Basics is one of Anvil’s heaviest albums as opener Fuel For The Fire kicks in. An impassioned Lips’ lyric begins with ” Fight, stand up and fight.  Fight for your right. Kill, in for the kill. Do what you will ” . A classic Anvil chugger, Lips’ solo follows the vocal melody and Robb kick drums the song to a close. Other highlights is the album’s strongest but most melodic song, Song Of Pain. Once again, Lips delivers a fine, almost spoken lyric as it begins with ” Once bit, twice shy, just the average kind of guy. Loved and lost, felt the pain, the need to start all over again “. The Chainsaw sounds very like Judas Priest’s song Rapid Fire with another menacing Lips vocal, searing guitars including a raging whammy bar solo and a solid drum workout! Cant Catch Me is a song about cheating on your partner, not escaping from the police. It opens with a Nugent type riff and ends with a howl of feedback that the Motor City Madman would be proud of! A stomping riff and drum pattern drive along Go Away with Lips’ lyrics attacking the lies told in the newspapers. Cruel World’s heart wrenching vocal maybe a reflection of Lips’ frustration of Anvil’s situation at that time and is probably the closest Anvil will get to a rock ballad but it is knocked into shape with some crashing riffs and guitar solos. Back To Basics closes with the scorching Fast Driver with fluid speed metal riffing and a frenzy of kick drums!

 

2007 was a landmark year for Anvil. They wrote and released their 13th studio album, naturally titled This Is Thirteen! A demo was sent to Chris Tsangarides who produced Anvil’s classic 2nd and 3rd albums Metal On Metal and Forged In Fire respectively . It was self released as Anvil had no record company at this time so Lips had to post/hand deliver advance copies to radio stations, promoters, magazines and fanzines. The recording of the album features in the movie Anvil:The Story Of Anvil, a bitter sweet account of their struggle to keep their heads above water. As their popularity began to rise, the album was released in 2009 via VH1 Classic Records.

This Is Thirteen begins with the title track, another Anvil classic. It’s mood and tempo bringing to mind Stranglehold by Ted Nugent. The eerie intro is levelled by a huge Lips riff as the lyrics weave around the subject matter of the number 13. ” Tarot cards and tea leaves, a crystal ball. A gypsy’s kiss, the death cards call “. Other highlights are  Bombs Away, a  mainly mid paced thrasher with pounding drums and a killer solo with an air raid siren technique. Burning Bridges’ catchy riff embeds in your brain after a few bars, a hard rocking number with a raging guitar solo. Ready To Fight begins with a signature Robb hard hitting drum intro followed by another catchy but scathing riff as Lips  high range vocal  contains a  ” Lets go! ” as a scorching solo is then unleashed. The only word to describe Flying Blind is bouncy, a feel good number. Room #9 has a similar tempo to Flying Blind but a lot heavier with some fine Lips riffing. Axe To Grind is probably the heaviest track with a grating staccato riff over yet more stomping drums with another fine Lips vocal delivery. Big Business flows along on a chunky riff with Lips’ vocal scathing greedy organizations. Should A, Would A, Could A is an uptempo, almost rock and roll number with guitar solos to match it’s pace. Another contender for best track is album closer American Refugee, a nagging  main guitar riff  is bolstered by snapping snare drums  with Lips’ vocal overdubbed to great effect. Album bonus track Thumb Hang is one of Anvil’s earliest numbers, never released before but emerged from the ashes during the filming of  Anvil:The Story Of Anvil. It depicts an ancient form of torture over a Black Sabbath groove!

 

Anvil band line up for the 3 albums :-

Lips – Guitar/vocals.

Ivan Hurd – Guitar.

Robb Reiner – Drums.

Glenn “G5” Gyorffy – Bass.

 

Still Going Strong track listing :-

Race Against Time.

In Hell.

Holy Wood.

Still Going Strong.

Don’t Ask Me.

Waiting.

White Rhino.

What I’m About.

Sativa.

Defiant.

 

Back To Basics track listing :-

Fuel For The Fire.

Keep It Up.

Song Of Pain.

You Get What You Pay For.

The Chainsaw.

Cant Catch Me.

Go Away.

Bottom Feeder.

Cruel World.

Fast Driver.

 

This Is Thirteen track listing :-

This Is 13.

Bombs Away.

Burning Bridges.

Ready To Fight.

Flying Blind.

Room #9.

Axe To Grind.

Feed The Greed.

Big Business.

Should A, Could A, Would A.

Game Over.

American Refugee.

Thumb Hang ( bonus track ).

 

I award all 3 albums 9/10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Dennis Jarman

Full time downtrodden album/gig reviewer and part time rock God!