Simple, straight forward no nonsense heavy metal is possibly the most accurate description for Toronto’s Anvil. Formed around guitarists Steve ‘Lips’ Kudrow and drummer Robb Reiner in 1978, the original line-up also consisted of guitarist Dave Allison and Ian Dickson on bass. Originally called Lips, the band quickly became an underground favourite and a staple of the Ontario bar circuit.
They released their self-financed debut HARD AND HEAVY in 1980. Their brash approach to music caught the attention of Attic Records the next spring, who signed them, then re-released their debut that same year. Produced by Chris Tsangerides, and although songs like “School Love” and “Ac/Dc” weren’t exactly radio friendly, the bands ‘rip your face off’ style landed them gigs backing other metal masters such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Particularly well-received in Japan, they released “School Love” as a single, with a version of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” as the ‘b’ side.
METAL ON METAL came out a year later, and contained the title-track, which would become the band’s anthem. Other noteables included the pounding “Jackhammer” and “666”. More constant touring was in store for the band, riding rock’s current heavy metal wave. The band returned to the Toronto studios and released FORGED IN FIRE in ’84, which contained the highly under-rated title-track and “Never Deceive Me”, which featured Allison on vocals, but were dropped from Attic’s roster soon after when it was decided that hardcore metal was no longer marketable. The label released BACKWAXED the next year, which featured the band’s 5 top ‘hits’ as well as 5 other songs which had been scrapped during the recording sessions for the first 3 records.
The band remained without a deal until 1987, when they landed a contract with Metal Blade in the US. It seemed a perfect match. Metal Blade specialized in handling a special type of band, and Anvil was that type. They brought in new producer Paul Lachapelle for the new sessions, and STRENGTH OF STEEL hit the stores in ’87. The album featured a killer version of The Stampeders’ “Wild Eyes”, as well as the instrumental “Flight Of The Bumble Beast” and title – track. They came out with POUND FOR POUND a year later, which also had Lachapelle behind the controls. Featuring the catchy “Toe Jam”, the lead-off “Blood On The Ice” and “Safe Sex”, it’s widely considered one of the band’s most under-rated records. The subsequent tour resulted in a live album called PAST AND PRESENT in ’89. Alison left the band shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the band’s unwillingness to compromise saw their world changing in front of them.
Canadian label Maximum Records picked up the band in 1991, releasing WORTH THE WEIGHT later that year. It featured new axeman Sebastian Marino, the first American to play with the band. Unfortunately their relationship with their label was short-lived, and Anvil again found themselves without a record deal a little over a year later. They kept their name alive doing what they were known for best, playing live, appearing all over the country in smaller venues. But in ’93 bassist Dickson left the band and was replaced by Mike Duncan. A little less than 2 years later, Marino also packed his bags and left, who was replaced by guitarist Ivan Hurd. The next year, Duncan’s tenure in the band was cut short when Glenn Gyorffy stepped in on bass.
Hypnotic Records expressed interest in the band and signed them to a deal that year. A revamped lineup which now consisted of mainstays Kudrow and Reiner, guitarist Ivan Hurd and Glenn Gyorffy on bass had been working on some ideas in the studio and released PLUGGED IN PERMANENT in ’96. The first time they hadn’t worked with an outside producer, the album showed a maturity, containing the tracks “Racial Hostility”, “Dr Kevorkian” and “Smokin’ Green”. ABSOLUTELY NO ALTERNATIVE came out early the next year. With tracks like “Hair Pie” and “Show Me Your Tits”, it was evident Anvil’s message of straight forward rock and roll hadn’t changed.
1998 saw SPEED OF SOUND released, backed by the songs “Bullshit”, “Blood in The Playground” and the title-track. While the double CD ANTHOLOGY was being churned out, they returned to the studios, releasing PLENTY OF POWER in ’01. Co-produced by Pierre Remillard, it features “Pro Wrestling”, the title-track and the ballsy “Groove Science” . STILL GOING STRONG came out a year later, followed by the double length DVD BACK TO BASICS in 2004. Along with 10 new tracks, it contained another ten recorded live in 1998 at Wacken Open Air Festival, in Wacken, Germany.