HOPE IN HELL
Released May 24, 2013 (The End Records)
01. Hope In Hell
02. Eat Your Words
03. Through With You
04. The Fight Is Never Won
05. Pay The Toll
07. Call Of Duty
08. BadAss Rock N Roll
09. Time Shows No Mercy
10. Mankind Machine
11. Shut The Fuck Up
12. Hard Wired
13. Fire At Will
Lips – vocals and guitar
Sal Italiano – bass
Robb Reiner – drums
Produced, engineered and mixed by Bob Marlette. Additional engineering and digital editing by Chris Marlette. Mastered by Maor Appelbaum.
Like presumably a lot of metal fans prior to the release of the film ‘Anvil: The Story Of Anvil’ I knew of Anvil through some of their most popular songs back in the day — in my case, “Metal On Metal” and “Mad Dog” and their accompanying videos — and I even had a taped version of the album Metal On Metal at some point. But I lost track of the Canadian metal band until their film surfaced, and while ‘Anvil: The Story Of Anvil’ did not convert me into an all-out Anvil fan it did peak my curiosity enough that I purchased a copy of This Is Thirteen on the way out of the movie theater.
The first thing that I noticed when listening to This Is Thirteen was, although there were some good songs, the sound on the CD was so meek and low that I had to crank up my car stereo a few decibels just to hear the songs — and even worse than what I usually do for just about any CD manufactured back in the ’80s. Perhaps that is why I never purchased another Anvil album — aside from their latest greatest hits — until I grabbed Hope In Hell just before attending my first Anvil concert back in October 2013. Luckily for me and everyone else, the success of ‘Anvil: The Story of Anvil’ has apparently translated into subsequent better sounding albums for Anvil. There are no “low volume” issues on Hope In Hell as the sound emanating from the CD is clear and explosive, and quite the contrast to This Is Thirteen.
The songs on Hope In Hell appear to be typical Anvil fare — fast and furious for the most part, with some awesome drumming by icon Robb Reiner and punctuated by Lips‘ unique vocal delivery. What has surprised me the most on Hope In Hell is what a good guitarist that Lips really is — the guitar solos sound really good and for the most part complement the other parts of the songs quite nicely. My favorite tracks on are two of the faster ones, “Eat Your Words” and “Flying”. I also really like the CD cover artwork, from the splashy red and yellow to all of the imagination and details with the interplay between Noah’s Ark and of course… an anvil.
What I am really not fond of are some of the lyrics penned for Hope In Hell. The lyrics for a song such as “Shut The Fuck Up” do not show much creativity, sophistication or intellect. I know it is only rock ‘n’ roll but I feel that a band with fifteen studio albums under their belt can do a lot more than start just about every verse with “Shut The Fuck Up”. In addition, Lips‘ singing sometimes fits the songs quite nicely but at other times he simply does not have the vocal range to take them to the next level. For instance, the chorus section on “BadAss Rock N Roll” could have been so much better and Lips‘ vocals sound off for most of “Time Shows No Mercy”, and even out of key at times. I wonder what Anvil could have sounded like over the years if Lips had just focused on playing lead guitar and brought in someone else to handle the vocals.
At the end of the day, Hope In Hell is a solid effort of straight-up speed metal tunes from Anvil — with really good sounding production — but it will definitely not come close to cracking my top 10 CDs for 2013.
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, January 2014