REVIEW: ANVIL – POUNDING THE PAVEMENT (2018)

Lips and the boys do what they do 

Sports fans everywhere will relate. There’s a player in whatever team you support that has a special place in your heart for no other reason than he or she seems to represent that game in its purest form. They might not be the best, the most skilful, but there’s a feeling about them that they’d do it for free if they weren’t getting paid. In that respect, they channel you as a fan better than the rest of your squad.

If heavy metal has an equivalent, then it’s Anvil.

Since 1981, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (another reason to love them is that the pair have been best mates since 1973) have worked harder, overcome more challenges and written more records than just about anyone. And you can’t help feel that they are grateful for every show they’ve played, every CD they’ve sold and every fan they’ve got.

Last year when MV was there as Metallica played a 14,000 capacity arena in Birmingham, James Hetfield stood on stage and said it was a “tight little place”. If Anvil played to a tenth of that then it’d probably be the night of their lives.

In that context then, not for nothing is their 17th (we think) studio album called “Pounding The Pavement.” A workmanlike collection for the best workmanlike band there is, you might say. Except Anvil have always been better than that.

They don’t think like other bands (this is meant as a compliment). Don’t believe me? Ok, but which other group on Planet Rock – or anywhere else for that matter – would start a record with a track called “Bitch In The Box” about hating your Sat Nav? Oh and make it a fists in the air belter? No one that’s who.

The next one sees them on more usual home turf. “Ego” is a fun, snotty Motorhead type romp, and although, clearly, they are a band with “classic” overtones, the chunky “Doing What I Want” is all the evidence you could ever need that they don’t feel like resting on any laurels any time soon.

In fact, “Pounding The Pavement” runs the full gambit. “Smash Your Face” – and yeah it’s as subtle as a boot to the bollocks – is a power metal thumper, the title track itself is an instrumental, and “Rock That Shit” probably doesn’t need any explanation. It deserves one. It’s a bar room rock n roller with a bluesy heart. Bet you didn’t see that coming?!

Elsewhere, they just play their hand perfectly in fairness. “Let It Go” starts with a solo, as if bursting to rock, and “Nanook Of The North” (no, I swear we aren’t making these titles up) is delightfully unhinged. Perhaps the most interesting song here, it is a perfect showcase for a band that is always ready to confound expectations, a song about Native Canadians (its title comes from a 1920s documentary) it is absolutely not what you’d imagine.

“Black Smoke” – seemingly about driving cars fast – is heads down and away you go, “World Of Tomorrow” sees Lips unleash his inner hippy over a Sabbathy riff, while last song “Warming Up” has a kind of jazzy feel and you can bet your bottom (Canadian) dollar that it will sound fantastic live.

So, with “Pounding The Pavement” rocks greatest triers have done it again. Since that film in 2006 they have enjoyed a renaissance, but however much of a curiosity that might have been, it is the music that will sustain them and keep the fans coming back. There are 11 songs here that do just that, bless their leather clad hearts.

Rating 8.5/10