Not terrible

Apart from their logo, the greatest thing about Anvil’s albums has usually been their artwork.

Forget the adulation heaped on their early work by modern-day titans who have surpassed what this band has done by lightyears, ignore frontman Lips’ oft-repeated lamentations of their hapless state due to industry machinations (though to be fair, that never helped). The legend of Anvil has always been one of a band whose ambitions have far outweighed their talents. Their first three albums appeared at the same time as the rise of Motörhead and the breakout acts of the NWOBHM, and were eagerly snapped up by fans of the emerging underground cult of metal, but by the mid-80s the first wave of thrash and the world-building sophistication of bands like Iron Maiden had already left the ritualistic Anvil far behind. They weren’t as tough or as clever as Lemmy’s mob, their most obvious touchstone, and lacked the skill of the thrash bands who’d once bought their records. Anvil have never really been more than a bog-ordinary metal band.

After nineteen albums, that fact isn’t going to change, but at the very least Impact is Imminent starts out with some energised and heavy riffing metal cut through with blazing guitar. Ghost Shadow and the cringingly-named Fire Rain are good, solid – if unadorned – heavy metal songs with the second of these sounding the toughest Anvil’s ever been. Lips’ vocals and lyrics have never been great but at this point that no longer matters, the first five songs here are some of the best stuff this band has ever done, even the knees-up offbeat instrumental Teabag.

From this point, however, Impact is Imminent suffers from the same fate as every other Anvil album before it. From total rubbish like Don’t Look Back, trying-too-hard anthems like Bad Side of Town, absolute cheese (Wizard’s Wand) and the uninspired, fist-in-the-air blandness of Lockdown, Anvil waste an entire chunk of their album on bad songs.

Somewhat surprisingly, Impact is Imminent lurches back from the abyss with a couple of decent tunes. Explosive Energy and The Rabbit Hole at last bring them back to the level of Motörhead tryhards, the first simply by sounding the way such a song should at least attempt to sound, the latter by way of Lips’ snarling, dry vocal delivery and dirty guitar. The Rabbit Hole could in fact be one of their best songs. Shockwave, though, is a waste of five minutes, but the boys bring the fun back at the end, with Gomez busting out a brass section to round things out.

Unlike most of their catalogue, Impact is Imminent isn’t terrible, but even with good production and an intuitive producer, Anvil still manage a level of cheesiness and inconsistency that, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, continues to hold them back from the true glory they’ve aspired to for so long.

  1. Take a Lesson
  2. Ghost Shadow
  3. Another Gun Fight
  4. Fire Rain
  5. Teabag
  6. Don’t Look Back
  7. Someone to Hate
  8. Bad Side of Town
  9. Wizard’s Wand
  10. Lockdown
  11. Explosive Energy
  12. The Rabbit Hole
  13. Shockwave
  14. Gomez