ormally known as Lips, a name used by their founder and singer, Anvil came from Toronto, Canada. The band consisted of "Lips" (Real Name: Steve Kudlow; bass/guitar), Dave Allison (guitar), Ian Dickson (bass) and Robb Reiner (drums). The band was technically capable and able to play at a high speed that few of their peers could manage, and as a result they made a large impression on the early thrash scene in North America.
Under the original name Lips they self-released Lips: Hard 'N' Heavy (1980) but when they were signed to Canada's 'Attic Records' the label insisted on a name change to avoid confusion with the disco act Lipps Inc.
Their first three records Hard 'N' Heavy (1981), Metal On Metal (1982) and Forged in Fire (1983) were widely considered their best works, with their second, Metal On Metal, although raw and featuring questionable production quality, showed the most promise and gave them a single with the title track that to this day has remained one of their most requested tracks. The albums forged the basics of the whole 1980s thrash movement known collectively as "speed metal", and saw the band play Castle Donnington. Forged in Fire for its part was their only to get a major charting, that being 191 on the Billboard 200.
But the joy was to be short lived for artistic issues within and legal problems with their record label would haunt the band. The result was a four-year break in recording. Backwaxed (1985), a compilation record, was released against their wishes and after the band's contract with the label had expired, and contained songs that they recorded but had previously rejected: the title track in particular had been axed as it was originally deemed too offensive but the label put it on the album all the same. This served no purpose other than to extend the hostilities they felt toward their now ex-record label 'Attic'.
Strength Of Steel (1987), their fourth attempt and now on the 'Metal Blade' label, offered a more refined musical style but still suffered from production when it finally emerged, possibly due to the label's unwillingness to invest more into supporting it; the album was released just at the end of their most popular and influential time, and offered the tracks Wild Eyes and Paper General; two tracks that received fair air play at home. But their legal problems and the issues of coming to grips with artistic differences were to come to a head after the Pound For Pound release in 1988, and the Past And Present - (Live) in 1989, when Allison quit and was replaced by Ivan Hurd. The band continued on to release Worth The Weight in 1992, the first album without Dave Allison and the first album to have two lead guitars. It was also Ian Dicksons final recording with the band. To replace Allison they temporarily hired a guitarist Sebastian Marino from Rochester, New York; this would be his only recording with the band.
Anvil would regroup shortly later in an attempt to make a comeback. With Sebastian Marino, and Ivan Hurd on guitars and Mike Duncan taking over the bass duties from Dickson. The future was catching up to them, however, for their releases would now be overshadowed by the work of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, which is ironic for bands like these quote Anvil as being an influence. Much of Anvil's work of the 1990s and beyond, such as Plugged In Permanent (1996), carried on with a more modern heavy bent but less notice internationally. Also, by the end of the recording of Plugged In Permanent, Glenn Five had also joined the band. This album was extremely heavy, with tuned down guitars and super fast riffs. A video was made for the song Doctor Kevorkian and was played frequently on Much Music's Power Hour show. Absolutely No Alternative (1997) delivered just as the title claimed in a time when the so-called "Alternative Music" movement was on the prowl, Speed Of Sound (1998), Anthology Of Anvil (1999; a "best-of" compilation) and Plenty Of Power (2001) remained played but unnoticed.
Anvil, often now held up for ridicule, just wouldn't die and they stayed true to their original sound, with the aptly titled Still Going Strong (2002) as their attempted come-back and with a back to basic approach they would release another aptly titled album shortly later, Back To Basics (2004), an album's whose styling would be rooted in the classics of the 1960s and 1970s. This album was not particularly enjoyed by critics but loved by all the Anvil die hard fans. A DVD was included of a live performance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany in 1998.
In 2006, the band recorded with Chris Tsangarides, who previously produced their acclaimed 1982 album Metal on Metal. After failing to find a major label that was willing to distribute the band's new material, the album, titled This Is Thirteen, was self-released in 2007 and made available only via the band's official website.
Anvil's history was documented in the film Anvil! The Story of Anvil released in 2008. The film put Anvil back into the public consciousness, enough to play several festivals including the Download Festival, not to mention playing Cat Scratch Fever with Slash and Anthrax's Scott Ian at the Sundance Film Festival where the movie premiered.
Following the success of the Anvil documentary, VH1 Classic Records re-released This Is Thirteen on CD and double vinyl on September 15, 2009 with a newly recorded song, Thumb Hang, as well re-recorded classics of Metal on Metal and 666. Although Thumb Hang had been written by the band during the 1980s. Guitarist Ivan Hurd then left the band to settle down with his new wife.
In 2009, Bantam Press released the book Anvil: The Story of Anvil authored by Lips and Reiner with a foreword by Slash. On March 28, 2009 Kudlow and Reiner were the featured guests on VH1 Classic's That Metal Show. Anvil played the Rocklahoma festival in Pryor, Oklahoma in 2009, and opened for AC/DC at their first few North America (leg II) shows that year, and Saxon on a leg of UK shows that November.
Anvil appeared for the first time on US network television on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on October 6, 2009, to coincide with the release of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil on DVD in North America; they performed Metal on Metal that night on the show. The camera performances did not end there, for on October 8, 2009, they filmed a cameo performance in a rock club for The Green Hornet.
Juggernaut of Justice, their 14th studio album, arrived on May 10, 2011. Following the release of the album the band completed tours in Europe and North America playing alongside Alice Cooper and Saxon. Also, in 2011, they released a new greatest hits album Monument of Metal: The Very Best of Anvil. Anvil also started re-releasing their old material starting with Strength of Steel, Pound For Pound and Worth the Weight later that same year.
In January 2012 Glenn Gyorffy quit, citing creative differences. Anvil embarked on their 2012 Winter Tour of the US with Sal Italiano on bass, formerly a bassist for an Iron Maiden tribute band.
Hope in Hell (2013), a new Anvil studio recording again produced by Bob Marlette, then arrived.
Anvil Is Anvil would arrive in 2016.
The seventeenth album Pounding the Pavement was released on January 19, 2018.
As revered as they are, it is nonetheless unlikely that Anvil will ever again have the same influential powers as they once did in the heavy metal world, but to their credit, like the music they play, they persevere and never seem to die.
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Anvil backstage at the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles on March 5th, 2010. Photo by: Tomdog.
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Artists mentioned in this article:
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