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Anvil This Is Thirteen

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 0:37 AM


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With the recent success of Anvil’s documentary film at the Sundance Film Festival this past January and the emergence of unlikely fans such as Slash and Scott Ian coming out and declaring the headbanging trio from Etobicoke as one of their prime influences for pursuing an extensive career in music one would think that the band would be set for life especially on the heels of the release of their 13th album this past October.

Kind of.

The reality is that if anything This Is Thirteen was a labour of love but with a delicate balancing of both labour and love in its making. Frustrated with the constant dichotomy that’s prevalent in the music business which resulted in financial losses through lack of promotion due to an inability to properly market the band, Anvil cut out the middleman in the preparation, distribution and promotion of this album and took charge of everything down to the last detail.

Which is why it’s with a heavy heart that I have to say that this album, despite its good intentions, is lacking something solid. And perhaps that certain something that the album needed in one area of the album ended up being channelled in another. Songwise, the album’s title track starts off the overall momentum with the band’s pounding, lumbering groove which stays for the whole song, Lips’ menacing prowess being the focal point of the song. By the third track “Burning Bridges”, however, that momentum’s starting to wear down and the delivery feels forced. It gathers up again in “Flying Blind” and “Room #9” but only in small doses afterwards and by the climax not even a solid performance in the form of “American Refugee” can buoy up this album to anything above average. And God knows I hoped for the opposite after repeated listens but so many factors were against it: Run-on lyrics that came across more like preaching (“Feed The Greed” and “Big Business” in particular, with the latter sounding like a half-assed version of D.O.A.), uneven song tempos/structures that unnecessarily threw off the whole context of the song (“Worry” and, again, “Feed The Greed”) and a lack of memorable hooks or riffs (“Game Over”).

At the same time I can only understand the actual struggle the band members went through in analyzing how to promote and market This Is Thirteen once it was completed. Especially as they often had to learn the hard way about the business part of the music business whereas they’ve always prided themselves on being simply about the music. And Anvil still are about the music – the love of writing it, performing it and playing it among legions of devoted fans around the world but they also retain enough business sense and savvy to still continue to be an active band. With that said, however, when your best known songs have titles like “Metal On Metal” and “Smokin’ Green” it’s safe to say that your audience doesn’t exactly consist of accountants or university professors. And that’s probably why Anvil almost feel and sound stoic and uncomfortable in parts on this CD: Once removed from the whole touring/studio environment and thrust into a business environment in which they have to deal with the trials and tribulations of financing the process Anvil simply don’t sound like themselves.

Shame because half of the album rocked solid balls of awesomeness when performed live.

http://www.Anvilmetal.tk
http://www.myspace.com/Anvilmetal

** 1/2


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