February 10, 2020 Anvil – Legal at Last (Album Review)
Since its recovery in the late 2000s, re-energized by the achievement of the 2008 film documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, the hardworking and prolific Canadian band made sure that the metallic momentum of its newfound niche does not rust out and fade away. It simply kept on pounding the hammer to come up with new music. In the previous decade alone, Anvil delivered four albums—from 2011’s Juggernaut of Justice to 2018’s Pounding the Pavement.
The 42-year-old band—currently consisting of founding members Steve Kudlow (vocals, guitar) and Rob Reiner (drums) with Chris Robertson (bass), who has been with them since the 2016 album, Anvil Is Anvil—is again coming out with another record. Titled Legal at Last, it is a bronze brazen statement of the power trio’s resilience and prolificacy and another testament of their having risen from their deepest rut towards the success that they have unbelievably yet ultimately found themselves with since their resurgence.
Slated for release on Friday, February 14th, 2020, via AFM Records, Legal at Last is a continuation of Anvil’s brand of Metal—hard and heavy, forged in fire, strong as steel, speedier than sound, and plenty of power. But one remarkable aspect of this latest offering is its refreshing mix of slow stompers and speed shredders, as well as a feel of both nostalgia and contemporary relevance.
Legal at Last opens straightaway with the breakneck speed of the title-track, giving a seeming nod to one of the forefathers of Speed Metal—Motörhead (“Ace of Spades”). Following next is the fist-pumping headbanger “Nabbed in Nebraska,” whose precise and electrifying guitar pyrotechnics shows that Kudlow is yet really to slow down. He, Reiner, and Robertson then turn a bit thrashy with the equally harsh and relentless “Chemtrails,” which will fit onto a playlist that includes Metallica’s “Motorbreath,” Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills,” Alcatrazz’s “God Bless Video,” Van Halen’s “On Fire,” and Mr. Big’s “Addicted to That Rush.”
A foray into burning, blackish, mid-tempo Thrash Metal then occurs in “Gasoline,” which will remind the initiated of the likes of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” and Slayer’s “South of Heaven.” Then, with “I’m Alive,” Anvil loosens up a bit, expressing its ability to emulate the less-serious, Rock-n-Roll antics of some of its Glam Metal comrades the likes of Mötley Crüe (“Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid”), Poison (“Don’t Talk Dirty to Me”), Warrant (“D.R.F.S.R.”), and Scorpions (“Rock You like a Hurricane”).
Anvil once again displays its uncompromising angst with “Talking to the Wall,” which jabs at the current political climate of the world. The ensuing “Glass House” is a change of rhythm and pace—a bit playful but nonetheless threatening with Alice Cooper–esque sensibilities (“No More Mr. Nice Guy”). The gear shifted higher again as the slightly Progressive “Plastic in Paradise” churns next with its half speed and distorted power chords, which then transitions seamlessly with the blast beats and shred fest of “Bottomline.”
The penultimate track, “Food for the Vulture” is hundred-percent Anvil material—technical and chaotic, ravenous and raw. Finally, Kudlow, Reiner, and Robertson finish off Legal at Last with the lightning lashes and Heavy Metal thunder of “Said and Done.”
Anvil continues to assert its rightful place in the pantheon of pioneers of Metal music. Its longevity and endurance are inevitably showing seamlessly in every album that it dishes out. Its music keeps on getting better—back to basics yet capturing currency. For all these, Cryptic Rock gives Legal at Last 4 out of 5 stars.