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Anvil - "Hope In Hell" (CD)

Anvil - "Hope In Hell" CD cover image

"Hope In Hell" track listing:

1. Hope In Hell
2. Eat Your Words
3. Through With You
4. The Fight Is Never Won
5. Pay The Toll
6. Flying
7. Call Of Duty
8. Badass Rock N Roll
9. Time Shows No Mercy
10. Mankind Machine
11. Shut The Fuck Up
12. Hard Wired
13. Fire At Will

Reviewed by on May 20, 2013

"Yeah, Anvil can still shred like it's the 1980s, but the fact that they haven't grown up since then is glaringly apparent on 'Hope In Hell.'"

Watching "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil," the documentary that catapulted the titular Canadian metal act back into the limelight after decades of playing tiny gigs was essentially like watching a reality TV version of "This Is Spinal Tap." You were never quite sure whether the guys in the band were in on the joke. And you definitely never thought they'd be working with A-list producing talent after their desperate gambit to get Chris Tsangarides to produce "This Is Thirteen."

Surprise, surprise, here they are again, with Bob Marlette, who's worked with the likes of Black Sabbath and Rob Zombie, working behind the desk on "Hope In Hell," an album that features some great playing from Steve "Lips" Kudlow on guitar and Robb Reiner on drums. Your enjoyment of this one will likely depend on your taste for lyrics that border on parody.

Take, for example, the Motorhead-style punk-metal thrasher "Flying," which has the band heading to Alaska where "sled dogs compete" and eventually back to Canada "to see our famous geese." "Badass Rock N Roll" is a particularly bad offender, rhyming the title phrase with "having fun is our goal." Things hit a lyrical nadir with "Shut The Fuck Up," which is just plain silly.

A lot of the times, Lips' licks on guitar are mighty tasty, but I imagine that Ritchie Blackmore might be calling his lawyers over the sheer theft Anvil commits on "Through With You," which apes the "Smoke On The Water Riff," with Reiner dutifully bashing out something very similar to Ian Paice's drumbeats on the Deep Purple classic.

Still, there are a number of tunes that work just about perfectly, with "Hard Wired," a Judas Priest-style classic metal tune especially standing out.

Yeah, Anvil can still shred like it's the 1980s, but the fact that they haven't grown up since then is glaringly apparent on "Hope In Hell." Even when it works well, there's a feeling of Spinal Tap-type self-parody going on. Your mileage will vary based on how much you enjoy that.

Highs: "Hard Wired," "Fire At Will" and the title track, "Hope In Hell."

Lows: The riff-theft on "Through With You."

Bottom line: Instrumentally, it's OK classic metal, but the lyrics go way into Spinal Tap territory.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)