September 9, 2013 Anvil – Hope In Hell (Album review)
Anvil has been around for a long long time, 35 years to be exact. Vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Drummer Robb Reiner have never given up, even through all the hard times. Their first album Hard ‘N’ Heavy came out in 1981, followed by Metal On Metal in 1982, and Forged in Fire in 1983. After these 3 albums something happened with the band that would basically drive them into obscurity. The funny thing was, they never disbanded, they continued to release album after album hoping to regain the success they once had. Unfortunately it would take them 20+ years for people to once again take notice of them with the release of their 2008 Anvil – The Story Of Anvil documentary . They followed the success of the film with their thirteenth album entitled This Is Thirteen. The album was decent but still not good enough to bring them into the spot light again. Fast forward to 2011 when Juggernaut Of Justice was released, it was a huge step forward between song writing, production, and the band was going in the right direction. They continue that direction with their latest album Hope In Hell. With their long time Bassist, Glenn Five, out of the band Anvil recruited Sal Italiano, formerly of an Iron Maiden tribute band to join the band on this record. Before I start the initial review of the album you have to understand one thing. Anvil were never a band to take seriously lyrically. Their lyrics can be immature and down right just stupid, but where they lack in lyrics they make up for it musically. I honestly don’t think there are any better musicians in their mid 50′s playing this sort of music like these guys do.
The album opens with the title track “Hope In Hell”. In all honesty this is my favorite track on the whole entire album. The chugging guitars and the drums just make for a very catchy and heavy song. Its the angriest sounding song on the album and I wish there was more like it. The lyrics are actually enjoyable and add to the catchiness. “Eat Your Words” speeds things up a bit with Robb Reiner shining through with his double bass drumming and crazy fills. Robb is a machine! The only thing that sadly kills this song is the lyrics, but the music is extremely engaging and fun. Next “Through With You” starts off like an Anvil version of “Smoke On The Water”. This track brings the album back to a mid paced rocker sound. As with all the songs on this album I’m not crazy about the lyrics, but I can’t help but have this chorus stuck in my head, “See you next Tuesday, I’m through with you!”. “The Fight Is Never Won” kicks things up again with a faster pace. This is probably my second favorite track on the album and I can tolerate the lyrics. The music itself is very catchy. Definitely head bang worthy. Next “Pay The Toll” is another mid paced song. This track is probably one of the first ones that don’t stand out as much musically as the previous ones have. The album starts to fizzle out a little bit from here with songs like “Flying”. I’ve heard a ton of songs about flying, but none of them are as bad as this one. The music is ok just another mid paced number, nothing special. This is where the lyrics really hit the bottom on this album. That’s kind of a norm on Anvil albums but I honestly think this has to be the worst. The lyrics just do not sound like something someone in their 50′s would write and honestly come across very childish. The track “Call Of Duty” reminds me a little of the opening track on the album but just not as good. The one thing I think that kills this song the most is the drums. Reiner provides some really great fills but in my opinion they don’t fit with the song. Finally “Badass Rock ‘N’ Roll” picks the album back up again with a rockin’ song. I generally hate songs that have lyrics about “Heavy Metal” or “Rock ‘n’ Roll” but there’s always those exceptions to that rule and this song is one of them. Yes its corny, but its a fun song to listen to, and that’s what Rock ‘n’ Roll is about. “Time Shows No Mercy” bring us back to the mid paced rock songs and brings the album back down again, I unfortunately couldn’t take anything from it musically or lyrically. “Mankind Machine” is the same as the previous song, although the music is a little catchier again. The track just doesn’t have as much variety some of the previous songs did and seems too repetitive. This leads us into the closing of the album with “Shut The Fuck Up”. Yes that is the title of the song, I did not make that up. It’s my third favorite song off the album being speedy and catchy at the same time. The lyrics are to the point and meaningless but its a fun little track to listen to and a great closer to the album. There is also a limited edition version of the album with 2 bonus tracks “Hard Wired” and “Fire at Will”. Why they just didn’t include these songs on the regular edition is a mystery to me. There’s nothing new that I haven’t already said with the previous songs on the album. These bonus tracks would have fit well on the initial album or could have possibly replaced 2 other songs, because these 2 tracks are better than the worst songs on the initial album.
All in all Hope In Hell isn’t a bad album. Is it better than the previous album Juggernaut Of Justice? In my opinion, no, but I think this is as good as Anvil is going to get. If your not picky about lyrics you will like Hope In Hell just for the music alone, which is what attracted me to the band to begin with. Cryptic Rock give this album 3 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed by Wayne Noon