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Get the lead guitar higher in the mix, damnit! - 78%

Peregrin, December 18th, 2007

The main incentive for buying this record is that the first five tracks are previously unreleased. However, the second half consists entirely of quite familiar songs - apparently, they wanted to stretch it out to LP length to make more money. This incidentally also makes "Backwaxed" an okay introduction to Anvil... I actually found it by accident in a thrift store and bought it as I've heard good things about Anvil from people I trust but apparently their records are a bit difficult to find on this side of the Atlantic.


Those already fans of Anvil will know what to expect - a simple, distinctly eighties form of heavy metal somewhat more raw than the better known of their contemporaries, a feel aided in no small part by the typically sleazy lyrics. Frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow's vocals are nowhere as high-pitched as the world's Rob Halfords and Udo Dirkschneiders, but not as gruff as Tom G. Warrior or Lemmy either.


In terms of varied style "Backwaxed" spans from songs that are faster-than-usual heavy metal that still is too slow to be called speed metal (the title track and concert mainstay instrumental "Pussy Poison") to more relaxed fare similar to a more metallic version of straight-up hard rock like AC/DC or Ram Jam ("Steamin'", "You're A Liar"). A few songs, curiously enough mostly those taken from previous Anvil records, fall somewhere in between - making the best point of reference (for those who haven't heard Anvil) a cross between classic Accept and Dio's first two solo albums but with a significantly more "DIY" feel than either and Lips' vocals not really sounding like Dio or Udo.


There's none of the progressive rock tendencies of Iron Maiden or Deep Purple to be found here, the only intricacy coming from the guitar solos. ... which brings me to the only major complaint with the previously unreleased tracks - on (thankfully only) some of them the rhythm guitar is significantly higher in the mix than the leads. What's the deal with that? In general, though, the first half has generally worse production than the second half complete with a somewhat thin sound that doesn't really suit this type of music, but I don't believe for a second that it's a result of the band producing it themselves.


Other than that, the only thing really wrong with "Backwaxed" other than the dedicated fans of Anvil that are its target audience not really having much interest in side two as they already own the preceding three albums, is that as good as it is at what it does it doesn't quite reinvent the wheel... oh, wait a second, in context it probably did - well, sorta, as far as the relative newbie writing this review has read it seems like Anvil were one of the first bands to be considered "power metal". In its original sense, that is, which means that I'd take this over Gamma Ray or Hammerfall any day of the week. But the previously unreleased songs could have had a much better production and mixing, and for that I'm taking off a handful of points.