Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Anvil's "Juggernaut of Justice" review

 Anvil - Juggernaut of Justice
Juggernaut of Justice
Rating: ****

Canadian metal band Anvil have been together for over 30 years as of 2011. The band's heavy sound influenced many, especially thrash metal bands like Metallica and all of the "Big 4". The band's second album, Metal on Metal, was released in 1982 and became an underground hit as did the follow up, Forged In Fire. The band almost disappeared and no one knew what happened to them. It turned out the band was still active in the 1990's and the 2000's. In 2009, the band were the subject of the award winning documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The documentary, directed by Sacha Gervasi (a screenwriter who toured with the band as a roadie in the 1980's when he was just a teenager), tells the story of Anvil to some extent but documents the band from late 2005 till 2007. The band was broke and were going through hell. The band's last album, This Is Thirteen, was recorded during the time the documentary was filmed. The documentary has done a lot for Anvil: it has renewed interest in the band and introduced the music to more people. Anvil's current album, Juggernaut of Justice, is the band's 14th studio album. The band consists of original and founding members guitarist/inger Steve "Lips" Kudrow and drummer Robb Reiner, along with bassist Glenn Five (aka G5, he's been in the band since 1996). Juggernaut of Justice is a very heavy sounding album and sees a little bit of experimentation on some songs: Reiner tried his hand at jazz drumming for this album, influenced by drumming legends Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. 

The self titled track starts off the album with a marching guitar riff, probably in the vein of Judas Priest. Kudrow sings on all the songs but isn't known as a great singer but for the genre of heavy metal, he's pretty good. He is an impressive guitarist and this song is just one example. Many other songs like "On Fire", "Turn In Up", and "Not Afraid" also sound very much like old-school traditional heavy metal song ala Priest, Black Sabbath, or Iron Maiden. When you listen to these songs, it's easy to see how the guys in Metallica were influenced by these guys. Another highlight off the album impressive "balls-to-the-wall" head-banger "When All Hell Breaks Loose", which has some fast and furious guitar work from Kudrow.  One my my personal favorites is a song called "Fukeneh!" (pronounced like "Fuckin' Eh" but probably has creative spelling due to the correct spelling or a shirt that that Kudrow is frequently seen wearing), which could be in the running as the next great metal anthem. The guitar lick is catchy and the background chants in the chorus of "Fuckin' Eh!" gives the song a very rebellious vibe. If you happen to be a fan of older Anvil, check out "The Ride": it sounds very much like "March of the Crabs" from Metal on Metal except it has lyrics. "Conspiracy" has a funky sounding opening lick that lead the entire song, which makes it a stand out for me at least. "Paranormal" is the longest song off the album, clocking in at seven minutes, but it's a very interesting piece: think of it as Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" meets Pink Floyd. How awesome is that? The last song, "Swing Thing", is another highlight. As mentioned before, Reiner does some jazz-like drumming on here. However, you can also hear a horn playing. Turns out the horn player is the album producer's (Bob Marlette) wife! So what you have is a combo of metal and jazz music. anvil might've started a new genre (which ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach jokingly referred to as "horny metal" on That Metal Show). 

Juggernaut of Justice is a nice release from Anvil. The production is pretty good and the sound is phenomenal. Well done, Anvil! Fukeneh, indeed! 

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