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“…this lp contains 40 minutes of sheer power. Keep it wet and play it loud…”
Sheer power = Hard ‘n’ Heavy…?…well, when it was being recorded and mixed during the latter part of 1980, it may have seemed so by some, but the fact of it is the Canadians' debut is hardly a steep ascent to massive heaviness. Granted, there are the rare moments when the band’s untapped power actually manages to pull past some material written by mainstreamers Ozzy, Motley Crue, Kix, and Dokken as well as barely acknowledged to unknown rivals like Saxon, Angelwitch, Raven, and Loudness, but when comparing it to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Motorhead, it’s just not too feasible an opinion. Venom’s debut is like an angry Triceratops storming a village compared to this.
Having already been ignited by the following year’s Metal on Metal album, I expected (hoped for) something akin to its mostly stormy sound. Unfortunately, you’ll find more “Stop Me”-like material than anything else, but as I said earlier, there are thankful moments of clarity not at all found in the song titles. For instance, “School Love” and its up-tempo momentum create one riff in particular found tailgating the chorus that can rupture most children in a crosswalk. Another livelier than average tune is “I Want You Both (With Me)”, and while aggression isn’t its middle name, it’s an acceptable build-up to the deluge of “Bedroom Game”, a song with the strength and momentum matching that of “Mothra” but with a much more conventional topical motif. The last tracks on the lp, “Hot Child” and “Bondage”, can be mentioned favorably, fairly vibrant and peppy for the course. Before W.A.S.P. decided to dip the brush, Anvil were already throwing pigments around with their halfway decent rendition of this originally Spanish-hued Rolling Stones cover in "Paint It Black". Then there are the dreaded: the shuddersome “AC/DC” (thankfully not an ode to the band), powerless “At the Apartment”, drafty “Ooh Baby”, and limp-wristed “Oh Jane”.
Sure, Metal on Metal has its share of skippable tracks, but the ones here are more worse for wear while the spiffier songs on their sophomore release are that much more inventive and persuasive i.e. “Jackhammer”, “March of the Crabs”, “Heatsink”, and “666”.
Hard ‘n’ Heavy definitely isn’t the Anvil disk I grab to showcase the band, but for the time it’s pretty much on target with what was going on in heavy music. ‘83’s Forged in Fire would further illustrate the band's growing penchant for heavier, more abrasive formulae.