Anvil – Legal At Last
Running Time: 50:31
Review by Dark Juan
Greetings and salutations from a dark and gloomy Dark Juan Terrace, my dear followers of the Left-Hand Path. As I am staring through the mullioned and open window from my meditation chamber (where there is a disturbing and frankly boring lack of nubile young virgins with innocent eyes and a faith in the False Lord that has just got to be libertined out of them) I am assailed by the smell of petrichor and there appears to be calm before a storm. The clouds are heavy, black and pendulous and all the birds have fucked right off somewhere. My glorious and vicious pack of hellhounds are all asleep on my bed. There’s also no cheese or alcohol in the house and the police are starting to take a dim view of my increasingly desperate excuses for being outside – Apparently telling them you are hunting for virgins is not an acceptable excuse in West Yorkshire, nor is claiming you have been living in the woods for twenty years and have chosen that moment to re-enter civilisation. Apparently, my clothes were too fresh smelling and well-pressed for that one to work…
So, to business. I’m listening to venerable Canadian metal stalwarts Anvil’s latest release, “Legal At Last”. It appears that they have a blueprint and they are not deviating from it one fucking jot. Experimentation is not a word in the Anvil dictionary. What we have here is a heavy metal album that literally has been transported through time from 1984. We have gang backing vocals, big chant-a-long choruses, an utterly derivative production where everything is snare drums to the fore, songs about weed, drinking, surveillance and how great Anvil are. Unfortunately, Anvil aren’t that great, and it has always been a mystery to this hellpriest as to why Anvil have enjoyed such a long career, when they have basically released the same album for the last twenty years. This is so utterly derivative it is sucking the life out of me. When you have other bands like Cloven Hoof (who are of a similar vintage) STILL managing to make traditional metal sound fresh and fun, it makes Anvil almost become a less amusing version of Spinal Tap – a band with steadily decreasing relevance clinging to past glories, helped with an ageing fanbase who all still wear their original 1982 tour shirts and look with disdain at the neophyte metaller who has just discovered the One True Path and malign them cruelly for not liking “the classic stuff”. Well, fuck you, OLD GUYS! This record might have been a good release in 1985, but now it is just tawdry, man.
Opener and title track “Legal At Last” is basically a paean to how great Anvil are. Yes, there is a punchy staggered backing vocal but I have to be honest here, Lips’ voice is not to my taste and this self-aggrandising bullshit got the teenaged Dark Juan’s back up so much that glam rock is still a no-go area because it would only take one phosphor bomb and you could wipe out a room full of primped pussies just from the fumes of the hairspray igniting. Second track “Nabbed In Nebraska” is equally boneheaded and has just insulted my intelligence so much I’ve just ordered a conventional bombing strike on Toronto to revenge myself upon the place for even giving us Anvil in the first place. “Smoking weed ain’t no crime” howls Lips. Clearly it fucking was in Nebraska, you numpty. Also, smoking weed ain’t big or clever. It generally makes you a combination of sleepy, talkative, food obsessed and very bloody annoying. And smelly. Very very fucking smelly. Track three on this apparently never-ending record is “Chemtrails”. Oh dear. Oh dear. Hackneyed and derivative and clearly Anvil have no idea of airspeed friction and contrails. Take it from me, dear friends and acolytes, I worked on aircraft at Manchester Airport and there are NO FUCKING NOZZLES FOR DUMPING CHEMICALS ON CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT!!!! Or I would say that, because I am one of them, you will all immediately howl… Grow the fuck up.
And so it continues – one of the few redeeming qualities of this record is that it does at least have a positive environmental message that is timely in the song “Plastic In Paradise”, but then they also have a song called “Glass House” about surveillance of the world populace, which is an interesting subject but ruined by some truly banal lyrics. “There is no place to hide, nowhere to go inside,” “There is no lock, there is no key, when you lose your privacy,” and the ABSOLUTE winner (and cheerfully grammatically incorrect,) “Me and you, living in a zoo.” Musically, Anvil still come across as a more muscular Twisted Sister with added metal attitude, but everything about the record is one massive fucking cliché, man. Overpowering drums? Check. Massively overproduced guitar sound, multitracked to fuck because there is only one guitar player? Check. Utterly faceless bass robot? Check. Gang vocal? Check. Battering the floor tom a lot? Check. Ham-fisted attempts at political commentary? Fucking check, check and check again. There is simply no fucking excuse, when metal is undergoing a renaissance of sorts currently, to release such dated and unoriginal music, especially when contemporaries are making good albums again.
Metal has moved on from this. At best, this record is a curiosity showing just how stagnant metal can be without new blood to move it along. It has some good riffs, some good song structures but Ozzy Osbourne did all this considerably better on “The Ultimate Sin.”
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System wants its intelligence quotient back. 4/10 for one of the most average records I have ever heard from “legends.” Bah. And indeed meh.
01. Legal At Last (I wish you weren’t.)
02. Nabbed In Nebraska (Don’t take controlled substances there, then!)
03. Chemtrails (Load of old pony, bach.)
04. Gasoline (More to worry about here than fucking chemtrails.)
05. I’m Alive (Clearly the Nebraska State Police were feeling charitable.)
06. Talking To The Wall (Is this while Accept have their Balls To The Wall? That’s a bit worrying.)
07. Glass House (Good concept, utterly shit lyrics.)
08. Plastic In Paradise (Timely and important. No, not taking the piss at this point.)
09. Bottom Line (Of your wife’s colossal pants?)
10. Food For The Vultures (An excellent metaphor for this album.)
11. Said And Done (Not quite yet, but hope springs eternal.)
12. No Time (Bonus Track – I read bonus track as a song that didn’t make the actual choice of songs for the album, but we will bung it on anyway.)
Steve “Lips” Kudlow – Vocals/ guitar
Robb Reiner – Drums
Chris Robertson – Bass
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