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Absolutely No Alternative is just another of those 90s era Anvil records which, while doing nothing particularly wrong, failed to further the band's influence and audience. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the band's overt, titular stance on the dregs of that decade which crippled metal music to begin with, but there is ultimately so little to distinguish this effort from its neighbors, nor does a single song from its selection belong on a career highlight reel. At the very least, this proved a cement lining for the Canadians' relationship with Massacre Records, which began with its predecessor and endured 'til Back to Basics in 2004. It was good for Anvil to have a home, but I'm not sure they ever capitalized on that security.
This was more or less Plugged in Permanent part II, the only differences being that the band dialed down the energy and enthusiasm a small fraction, and Lips stuck almost exclusively to his lower vocal range, leaving the impression that Anvil were going for a Canadian Motörhead vibe with a more complex (but less bad ass) palette for guitar composition. A handful of tracks here are engaging and fun musically, namely the chunk in the middle of the playlist that includes "Hair Pie" and "Rubber Neck", but nothing really leaves a lasting impact. There are a great deal of strutting, grooving guitars performed at fairly explosive speeds, with an enormous influence from the boogie of 70s hard rock and its evolution into the NWOBHM sound, but you'll also hear a consistent undercurrent of primal, thrashing patterns that the band had always manifested, even in their formative early 80s material. That said, so few of them are arranged into unique or memorable patterns that when something DOES, like the bright, atonal chords woven into the song "Green Jesus", they really make me pine for an Anvil that would stretch itself further...
Not all THAT much further, but whenever this band waxes creatively, it shines through their tendency towards drab, light-hearted predictability. I also found the lyrics throughout the album to be a strange, subdued contradiction. It's not that the Canadians haven't always flaunted their silly sex themes alongside the more serious contemporary issues, but it just seems so bizarre to have social themes like "Hero by Death" and "Black or White" pressed up against more lovingly exploitative titles like "Show Me Your Tits" or "Red Light". I mean, I like breasts and vaginas as much as the next guy, if not more, and Kudlow and the gang are obviously not attempting to flaunt misogyny, but I guess I just never noticed how much of a contrast it creates within the space of an album. That aside, this is stock Anvil for the period. Great drums, goofy lyrics, competent leads, decent bass lines, a handful of riffs that will whip the listener into a headbanging frenzy: all too easily forgotten within an hour or so of the experience.
This must be the most fucked up band of all time. With completely over-the-top sex songs like "Show Me Your Tits" and "Hair Pie", featuring quotes like "add a little honey, maybe some whipped cream. Do it with a friend if you know what I mean. Knee high in hair pie!", this band is just outrageously fun.
But combine this with other songs that have quite remarkable thoughtful lyrics that actually have a message. Take "Green Jesus" as an example, where they write about how money is becoming the driving force of society. And also musically, they're pretty weird, and sound really like nothing I've ever heard before, while not being progressive in the slightest.
We can easily say that this band, and this album, is not for everyone. But if you appreciate it, for the most part it's a whole barrel of fun.
The riff department is mostly speed metal based, and pretty catchy. The drummer is pretty mental- listen to the opening track "Old School", you will know what I mean. Crazy ass fills on that one.
Vocalist Steve "Lips" Kudlow has a pretty average range, but his somewhat Lemmy-ish but less gruff voice goes perfectly along with the musical and lyrical direction of the band.
Song highlights... "Show Me Your Tits" is in fact the best song on here, and not only for the lovely lyrics. The speed metal riffwork is at it's finest on here, and the vocal lines are just catchy as all fucking hell.
Other mentionable highlights are the midpaced "No One To Follow", the bizarre "Hair Pie", the catchy speed metal of "Red Light" and the moody closing track "Hero By Death". Also, "Rubberneck" is killer, and pretty damn heavy. "Rubberneck! outta my way!" Good shit.
But most of it is pretty solid really, and no songs stand out as being weak.
Nothing incredibly spectacular here except maybe "Show Me Your Tits", but all in all a consistent and catchy barrel of rocking fun heavy metal with a good dose of speed.
Now, I've got four words for you. "Show me your tits!" Damn right.