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Anvil - Legal At Last Award winner

Legal At Last
by Rachel Montgomery at 11 February 2020, 11:19 AM

ANVIL almost needs no introduction. Formed in 1978, the longevity of the band’s style and lineup for over forty years is impressive in itself. Writers of the infamous anthem “Metal On Metal”, the band was a rising star of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM) through the 1980s. They were in the spotlight once again after the documentary “The Story Of Anvil” was released, documenting the less glamorous side of music life. Through it all, band’s lineup and style have remained unchanged.

Their new February 14 (in Europe and North America) release, “Legal At Last”, is an album with a more political bent, celebrating cannabis legalization in Canada. The band has long been open and vocal about their cannabis use, and the policy change was seen by band members as a way to validate their message of marijuana acceptance. However, despite the political theme, the band still proudly asserts that this is just another Anvil album, without new bells and whistles. After listening to the album, I can say that’s true. It’s a very stylized 1980s-sounding album with a lot of the same tricks the band used way back when. However, they kept up with best production practices, so while the album is still very vintage sounding, it is clear and tight.

The ambiance in the opening track is interesting, sounding like someone slurped through a straw. Despite the interesting choice, the opening song as a distinctly MOTORHEAD vibe to it, especially in the melody line and the gunfire guitar riff. While the vocals remain solid after decades, I wish he would have brought up the growl or gravel in his voice to match the tone like in their song “Bitch In The Box”. The guitar solo is solid with piercing licks and sweeps that stand out from the rest of the melody line.

They still make use of older stylings. The cowbell at the beginning of “Nabbed In Nebraska” is a good example; the song itself is a heavy political ballad with gritty, jabbing guitar notes and tight, intense drums. They organize the tracks with pacing in mind as well. “Chemtrails” is the next song and has a thrash beat and guitar riffs. It’s followed by “Gasoline” which features a steady, hard beat.

“I’m Alive” has the opposite problem as the opening track. I wish the vocals used here were clearer, as it would fit the instrumentals and tempo of the song better. However, this is a small criticism. The band overall uses excellent techniques, incorporating some music ambiance from their era, and some timeless techniques that make their songs stand out. “Glass House” makes great use of hymnal melodies, for example. The closing track, “Said and Done”, has an interesting 3/4 beginning before flipping the melody to a slow, more standard 4/4 time. It’s a hard-hitting march that sums up the band’s drive to march on.

Overall, the album is solid with a vintage vibe and contemporary production. Fans of ANVIL will enjoy the same sound. You will too if you like traditional Heavy Metal from the 80's. Either way, it’s a well-produced, musically tight album that NWBHM listeners should check out.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Legal At Last
2. Nabbed In Nebraska
3. Chemtrails
4. Gasoline
5. 5. I'm Alive
6. Talking To The Wall
7. Glass House
8. Plastic In Paradise
9. Bottom Line
10. Food For The Vulture
11. Said And Done
12. No Time (Bonus Track)
Steve “Lips” Kudlow - Vocals, Guitars
Robb Reiner - Drums
Chris Robertson - Bass
Record Label: AFM Records


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