(By Kira Schlechter, Guest Contributor/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
You can count on most Anvil albums to be like fast food – fun, filling, and usually at least an OK dinner option.
But the band’s 17th alliterative release “Pounding The Pavement” – featuring core members singer/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, with latest bassist Chris Robertson – kind of makes you wish you’d made a homemade meal instead.
The lead-off track, “Bitch In The Box,” is a reference to cell phone direction apps that could have been really clever and funny if it was better done. It has some odd, half-hearted harmonies and a kind of weird, erratic structure that hangs together kind of awkwardly, like a crooked window blind – blocks the light but just doesn’t look right.
“Ego” is better, punky and Mötorhead-reminscent, while more sharply edited, with a cranking guitar solo and a chugging groove. But “Doing What I Want” seems redundant – haven’t they always done this? Isn’t their career a perfect example? Does the sentiment or idea really need a song?
“Smash Your Face” is an ode to the glories of rawk and roll, but it drags on too long and treads the same turf as much better analogy/metaphor songs like “Rock n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” or “Let There Be Rock.” Same with “Rock That Shit” – superfluous and repetitive with a moon/June rhyme scheme and more odd harmonies.
Lips says the longer track, “Nanook Of The North” is about the 1920’s documentary about the native Inuit people, but the film has been criticized for being racist and cliché. The song might be overly simplistic and doesn’t address those issues, but give him credit for tackling an outside-the-box subject in the first place and sharing in the sadness of the loss of a way of life and the exploitation of natural resources. It’s a bright spot here.
And “World Of Tomorrow” has a satisfying grind and nicely melodic soloing to go with its message that things might suck now, but there’s always hope.
The band says the writing process for “Pounding The Pavement” started immediately after its predecessor, “Anvil Is Anvil,” and maybe a break may have been warranted. I get that they want to keep the momentum and interest going that the 2008 documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” generated, but uneven albums like this one are likely to slow the process.
Anvil‘s “Pounding The Pavement” is out NOW from SPV/Steamhammer.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.