One And Only

rating icon 6 / 10

Track listing:

01. One And Only
02. Feed Your Fantasy
03. Fight For Your Rights
04. Heartbroken
05. Gold And Diamonds
06. Dead Man Shoes
07. Truth Is Dying
08. Rocking The World
09. Run Away
10. World Of Fools
11. Condemned Liberty
12. Blind Rage

Irrespective of dalliances with the movie world, ANVIL have long since earned their legendary status. Hugely influential, not least on the nascent speed and thrash metal scenes of the early '80s, the Canadians remain the same, humble goofballs that emerged from the Toronto suburbs way back when. The difference between now and, say, the few rather fruitless years that preceded their celluloid triumph, is that ANVIL have had a swagger about them in recent times. Their last album, "Impact Is Imminent", was their strongest since the movie-adjacent "This Is Thirteen" (2007),  and proof that the current lineup — vocalist/guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, drummer Robb Reiner and, for the last decade, bassist Chris Robertson — were the most lethally effective in the band's history. Despite occasional detours into juvenilia and bozo-brained hard rock, ANVIL have simply become the best versions of themselves.

The eighth album they have recorded since their fortunes changed, "One And Only" is unlikely to go down in history as one of ANVIL's finest, but the trio's sizzling chemistry is still impossible to ignore. The perfect reflection of their sweat-drenched live prowess, their 20th studio record sounds fantastic: gritty, organic, alive and kicking. The efficacy of a power trio doesn't always come across brilliantly on tape, but there is such an easy, natural rapport between the ANVIL guys that "One And Only" is frequently infected with the kind of semi-drunk, perma-grinning atmosphere of a garage rehearsal, but blasted out with plenty of contemporary sonic power. As ever, Reiner's drumming is part carpet bombing raid, part lithe and lean fusion groove, and Kudlow's guitar sounds like it's powered by something more feral and dangerous than electricity. Robertson, as you may expect, is rock solid. The only issue is that some of these songs are so straightforward that, a cynic might suggest, ANVIL could churn out variations on the same theme without ever turning up another "Winged Assassins" or "Metal On Metal".

On the likes of the bullish opening title track and recent single "Feed Your Fantasy", ANVIL sound like they are having a tremendous amount of fun. The latter in particular is rather rudimentary boogie rock, albeit cranked up to 11 and rather less interesting than it should be, considering its prominence here. Elsewhere, "Fight For Your Rights" and "Rocking The World" trot affably down similar, singalong avenues. Great fun, of course, but a somewhat unambitious use of the three-piece's shared imagination.

Fortunately, "One And Only" does have several genuinely great moments. "Gold And Diamonds" is a rowdy, PRIEST-like rumble-off, with ANVIL's metal instincts pushed into the red, and a blazing solo from Kudlow. "Dead Man's Shoes" is another instant headbanger, with a razor-sharp chorus and a scabby-knuckled, speed metal gait; "Run Away" stinks of burning fuel and old-school rock 'n' roll; and "Blind Rage" is simply one of the finest metal songs ANVIL have written in years. There is little here to dazzle or convert the cautious, but "One And Only" certainly serves its purpose, which is to provide some new songs to take out on the road, where these legends ultimately belong.

Author: d
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