Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011, The End Records)
- Juggernaut Of Justice
- When Hell Breaks Loose
- New Orleans Voodoo
- On Fire
- Fuken Eh!
- Turn It Up
- This Ride
- Not Afraid
- Swing Thing
Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow – Lead Vocals & Lead Guitars
Robb ‘Robbo’ Reiner – Drums
Glenn 5 – Bass & Vocals
Lisa Joy Pimentel – Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet and Saxophone
Producer: Bob Marlette
Total Time = 45:02
It’s taken Anvil four years to follow-up their last studio album, the doom laden THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007), but you can’t fault the guys because they’ve been pretty busy the last five years. While filming the critically acclaimed documentary ANVIL!: THE STORY OF ANVIL, they recorded THIS IS THIRTEEN. Then you’ve got the constant promotion, the touring, more promotion, more touring and then, years later, enter the studio to record JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE. It’s interesting because the band announced the title years ago while doing promotion for the documentary and then they just got so busy they had to put off recording it! Robb Reiner stated on That Metal Show last season that JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE was the METAL ON METAL (1982) of this era…..big words because METAL ON METAL is considered a classic.
Anvil is Anvil and they are always going to make the same ’80s Thrash-pioneering, classic Heavy Metal album they’ve always made but the key is good songwriting and production. The band channelled their collective energies to create THIS IS THIRTEEN with the guiding hand of super producer Chris Tsangarides and they’ve done so again this time around with the production duties being handled by Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Airbourne). A point Tsangarides discussed in the documentary was that if the songs are subpar, no amount of production is going to make the album good, and, if the production is bad, good songs will be wasted. First of all, the Marlette production on JUGGERNAUT is excellent, the album sounds crystal clear and it has that BIG sound. I can’t really identify any production “tricks”, it just sounds like the guys plugged in and started playing! As far as the songwriting, the band has channelled the positive experiences of the last five years and created a solid collection of tunes. The opening title track is a retro Metal feast that gets the album off to a chugging start and ‘When Hell Breaks Loose’ is the band at their thrashy best. Listen to Robbo on this song, that guy is one of the greatest Metal drummers out there! What’s always a plus is if there’s a hook to the song, doesn’t matter if it’s Hard Rock, Black Metal, or Pop, if there’s a hook then people are going to remember the song. Both ‘Juggernaut Of Justice’ and ‘When Hell Breaks Loose’ has that kind of hook that makes the chorus stick in your head and gets you singing along, maybe it’s because the songs are so straightforward and good. ‘New Orleans Voodoo’ is a doom laden Black Sabbath style track that would have easily fit on THIS IS THIRTEEN and is one of my favorites on the album and ‘On Fire’ is another speed track that sounds very familiar but I can’t place it.
Most Anvil records have that simple humorous song that seems so juvenile and this album’s is ‘Fuken Eh!’, probably the weakest song on the album because the lyrics aren’t as good as the others on the record but it does have that simple chorus that sticks. Of course, ‘Fuken Eh!’ is really a song about the band it self surviving and persevering and doing it their way…..fuken eh! There’s more guitar frenzy from Lips with ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘Not Afraid’ and the themes are pretty much reflect the experiences of the last few years but the jewel in between these two burners is the Glenn 5 sung ‘This Ride’. I wasn’t really expecting Glenn 5 to get a lead vocal, especially since Lips’ vocals are as much a signature of the Anvil sound as Robbo’s drumming is, but Glenn does a solid job with a growl that sounds like a more aggressive Lips and that just makes the song sound heavier. ‘Conspiracy’ is another slower mid-tempo chug that is reminiscent of classic Accept and could have easily fit onto THIS IS THIRTEEN, listen for the guitar solo in the middle of the track, another excellent one on an album full of them, Lips sounds like he’s been rejuvenated by the recent success. ‘Running’ is another retro Thrash sounding track that’s simple in it’s writing and delivery, guitars and bass sounding like buzzsaws with Robb pounding that kit away but the crown jewel is seven minute doom epic ‘Paranormal’. It’s a heavily Sabbath influenced song that takes Anvil into new territory and is more experimental for them compared to their trademark sound. Sounds like a cross between ‘Black Sabbath’ and the quieter moments of Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’. I’m not saying that to bust the band’s chops, it’s what came to mind right away! I like ‘Paranormal’ a lot, it’s different and unexpected on a record like this. The same goes for ‘Swing Thing’, a jazz influenced speed instrumental complete with horns, trombones, sax and trumpet! That’s a different kind of sound and not easily identifiable with the trademark Anvil sound but, if you take those extra instruments out, it’s a straight ahead thrash song…..definitely something creative and different.
(Just a quick note here, it seems that there are two versions of the album: the standard release that I have here and a limited edition through the retail chain FYE that contains two exclusive bonus tracks – ‘The Station’ and ‘Tonight Is Coming’. I totally forgot about the limited edition when I bought this record the day of release so I will add these two songs into the review when I acquire the limited pressing.)
Success is always a good thing and it can bring an energy, vitality and creativity to a band instantly. Anvil has had a busy five years with plenty of product released and gigs played, hopefully the reaped a financial reward because they deserve it. Anvil has been a band that I grew up with back in the ’80s but lost track of as the years went on, it’s good to see them attain a level of success that has eluded them since the early ’80s. That said, you can immeadiately tell by listening to JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE that the last few years have been more then kind to the band…..the energy is there, the songwriting is great and the performances are excellent. I like the fact that the band stuck close to their classic sound but decided to experiment with a few songs to add some variety. Lips plays a blistering guitar and Glenn 5 matches him riff for riff on the bass while Robb Reiner continues his legend by pounding that drum kit with a controlled recklessness…..this is what Heavy Metal is all about: good songs played with an excellence and passion by a band that has been an influence to more successful Metal bands. Anvil doesn’t compromise, they give you what you expect, with JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE I expected a great record and they delivered. One of my favorite albums of 2011!
‘Juggernaut Of Justice’, ‘New Orleans Voodoo’, ‘This Ride’, ‘Paranormal’, ‘Swing Thing’