Review by Carl “ThunderGod” Pickles
Hope in Hell is the fifteenth studio album by Canadian Heavy Metal band, and perennial underdogs, Anvil. To say that these guys have had some bad luck in their career is akin to saying Hurricane Katrina caused a few problems in New Orleans. The fact that the band are here at all is testament to the belief and staying power of Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, who make up the core of this triumverate, rounded out by Sal Italiano.
The album was produced by Bob Marlette, who, according to Lips, contributed a lot to songwriting skills and arrangements. Perhaps it was really just that extra layer of polish Anvil needed. This album keeps things very much in the same vein as previous release, Juggernaut Of Justice, which got itself rather a lot of play here at Wyrd Ways Towers.
So what’s it like, then? Well, it’s recognizably Anvil, even when you get beyond their trademark alliterative album title. They are one of those bands the listener can identify immediately as soon as Lips’ trademark snarling delivery comes barrelling out of the speakers. For anyone uninitiated, Lemmy himself once asked Lips to join Motörhead, and was not best pleased when the Canadian turned him down. From the guitar work on this album alone, it is possible to see why Lemmy was so interested. The guy can play. He’s not fancy, he’s not elaborate, he’s just perfect for the job at hand, and there’s not really much higher praise than that. Exactly the same can be said of drummer, Robb Reiner. He knows exactly what he’s doing and does it with confidence and skill born of heading for forty years in the trenches.
This is a band who are not afraid to vary the pace. That’s a pretty rare thing, but Anvil have no problems following the slow chugging riff of the title track, Hope In Hell, with the much quicker Eat Your Words, then bringing the tempo back down again for Through With You. These tempo variations carry on from the opening notes of the aforementioned Hope In Hell to the final notes of Shut The Fuck Up. That’s a good thing, by the way. It makes listening to this album a lot more interesting, and is something these veterans can teach some younger bands.
In Eat Your Words, Badass Rock ‘N’ Roll and the aforementioned Shut The Fuck Up, they’ve even managed to write themselves a handful of true anthems. It would appear that the vein of good form they hit on Juggernaut… wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Even on their fifteenth album, they’re still able to exhibit the kind of hunger and enthusiasm you’d expect to hear from a band that had done less than half that number of albums.
If you manage to get hold of the limited edition version, you’ll be treated (and I do mean that) to a couple more tracks, namely Hard Wired and Fire At Will. Usually, let’s face it, the bonus tracks on most albums can be of variable quality to say the least. At worst, they’re a total rip-off, such as the “remixes” which sound exactly the same as the original. These two are birds of a very different feather. These two tracks deserved to be in the full running order. It shows the strength of the material on this album that these songs are relegated to the “bonus” category.
So in short, Anvil’s comeback in the wake of the This Is Anvil film continues, showing, on this evidence, that there is plenty more in the tank.