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Review: Anvil - Back To Basics
Back To Basics

Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 2004
Duration: 43:09
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: June 13, 2004
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Back To Basics

Rated 3.52/5 (70.48%) (21 Votes)

I'm so sad. Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Unlike many people, I was quite happy with Anvil's recent releases and still stand behind my reviews of these albums (note: not expecting the band to release the same albums they did 20 years ago greatly helps appreciate their later stuff.) This time, however, I regret to say that this is an Anvil album I cannot recommend - unless you're a completist. I don't want what "basics" the band wanted to get back to, but I think it pre-dates the times of being able to write good songs. The album starts up on a speedy opener, "Fuel For The Fire", that made me think I was still going to get my ass kicked, but that thought quickly faded away as soon as the second song started. The songs are pretty much sub-par, simple (not that this is a problem in itself - the problem here is that they are annoyingly simple), they lack "punch" and none of them manage to make this album take off. There are a few good moments here and there, and I suppose with a few (well...) beers under the belt, one might actually rock to some of it, but that's just not enough coming from this classic band. I'm almost thankful when the album ends. This is something I never thought I'd write about Anvil. And you know what, I don't think there's much point in writing much more about this. I've heard a lot worse, but I expect more from a band of this caliber.

This CD comes packed with a DVD recorded live in Wacken in 1998, with 9 songs. The Massacre Records version (European release) has it in PAL format and the US and South American releases will also include the DVD - I assume in NTSC format. The Canadian version won't have the DVD at all. Watch which one you buy, because most DVD players sold in North America can't play a PAL DVD. The DVD alone made this worth the price and is a little consolation for the sub-par album. It's a no-frills show, no special effects or whatever, but you see the guys are enjoying themselves, and so is the crowd. It really doesn't have the same vibe as when you see them for real but it's better than nothing. :)

I won't go into the "this band has worn out its welcome" bullshit speech that some people use, that's just too easy. I get the feeling Anvil may have rushed the songwriting this time, or just weren't into it or... Go figure. I'll wait for the next album to see if this was just a little bump in the road.

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