On January 19, Canadian metal band Anvil released their 17th studio album, Pounding the Pavement. These gentlemen have been making and releasing music together for 41 years. In a world where many acts burn out in a fraction of that time, this unto itself is a victory.
That being said, Anvil has never quite conquered the top of charts or maintained large-scale audience attention. While longevity is certainly indicative of some degree of success, it is not necessarily the only measure to consider. A clear example of this can be found in Pounding the Pavement. The not-bad but not-great zone in which this band has lived out its career is evident on this record.
Pounding the Pavement kicks off with medium-tempo “Bitch in the Box.” The structure here unfolds in precisely the manner one would expect. The straightforward and somewhat repetitive lyrics rest over a simple rhythm - breaking only for a brief and somewhat middle of the road guitar solo. As an opening number, this track is uninspiring. While it is not actively bad, it reads a bit like background music for day drinking in a dark pub.
A mixed bag from Anvil
Next up from Anvil is the slightly faster “Ego.” One of the stronger tracks on this record, it has slightly more unique lyrics and arrangements than its predecessor. However, Pounding the Pavement falls immediately back into basic and dragging patterns with the following two cuts. The title track off the album comes up fourth, with a much needed instrumental. A lack of lyrics is refreshing here, as these musicians give audiences a glimpse of true metal.
As Anvil’s latest album proceeds, audiences get the sense that reading track titles and using a little imagination would yield the same results as listening. The whole record tends toward the stereotypical while carrying a weight that does not feel “metal” so much as trudging. While not painful to hear, it simply slides into the background. This album is not likely to impact the band's reputation in either a positive or negative way - it simply perpetuates the middle ground Anvil walks.