Reviewed by Jimmy "Explosive Diarrhea" B.
This is another one of those reviews that was originally posted on Dave's, now defunct, music review website. I think I wrote this two years ago.
Question: What happens when you mix iron and Viagra? Answer: your erection points north. Get it? It points north like a compass, because it contains iron. All right so I’m not a comedian, but I do know metal music. And for my latest installment I am going to review Anvil’s Speed of Sound album, which always makes my erections point north, toward Toronto, Canada, home of Anvil.
Dave and I went to see the film, The Story of Anvil, a couple of weeks ago. It got me excited about the early years of metal. I have been listening to bands like Exciter, Omen, Attacker, and of course Anvil all week. Sometimes I forget how pleasurable straight ahead, in your face, fuck you heavy metal can be when it is done right. And few bands did it better than Anvil. The early years of Anvil were common in the underground music scene; they blazed a trail, but got trampled by a herd of revisionists.
Would you believe that these guys put out their first album in 1981? I discovered them around ’88; I was enthralled by the song Blood on the Ice on the Pound for Pound album. The most striking thing about Speed of Sound is that it demonstrates Anvil’s musical progression, but retains that simplistic riff mania that is classic Anvil. If you have been in the metal scene for a while you will remember all of those terrible sell out albums in the mid and late eighties – remember Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake album or Stay Hard by Raven. Bad stuff! How bad was it? So fucking bad I could shit! The bands made a few bucks, and suffered the shame of selling out for the rest of their careers. Anvil was different; they NEVER sold out, and judging by Speed of Sound the years have been good to the boys from Toronto.
There are three things that separate Speed of Sound from earlier Anvil albums. The most obvious, which won’t surprise any fan of ‘80s metal, is production. Eighties metal had the worst production of any genre of music ever! Second, there is more emphasis on melody. Yikes! Did I actually say melody? Indeed I did, but we’re not talking about any sissy power metal melody. No, my friends, this is testosterone driven, horns in the air melody. What I am really driving at is that there was a disconnect between the vocals and the music in Anvil’s early years which is entirely absent on Speed of Sound. Finally, Anvil’s lyrics are more socially aware than in the past. The band is no longer simply playing anthem metal. They are talking about social alienation in a world controlled by heartless corporations; they are expressing outrage at terrorism, and they are taking some swipes at asshole fathers who won’t support their offspring.
By now you have probably noticed that I like Speed of Sound. I think it contains some of Anvil’s best work. The songs "Bullshit," and "Park that Truck" are not only my favorite songs on the album, but my favorite Anvil songs period. No Evil is a damn good song as well. But, I do have a complaint; the song "Mattress Mambo" is fucking atrocious. I suspect this song was used as filler. I have no other explanation for why such a shitty song would appear on an otherwise great album. Doesn’t the world already have enough cheesy songs about fucking? YAARRGGHH!!