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Here is where Anvil starts their downward spiral into obscurity. By 1987 the band was caught up in the success they found with the pairing of "Metal On Metal" and "Forged In Fire" and by the time they returned with their fourth release, they simply had waited too long. By 1987, well you already know what had come out in the past 4 years....just about every metal classic known to man in what the iron fisted followers regard to as the golden-era of their beloved music. Just about the foundation for the majority of the genres we all hold close to our hearts had been laid and was already being taken to new heights with.
But not Anvil. They were like a deer that stared too long into the headlights of an on-coming vehicle and didn't move fast enough. When you think about it, it's pretty sad in a miserable, cruel fate-like way it happened. But when you listen to "Strength Of Steel", the music doesn't hold up as much as their previous albums. The production sounds very flat. A far cry from their previous attempts which could be held next to the best at what Judas Priest did. The songs are less-inspired. The lyrics even go back to a simplistic 'rocking out against the world' cry instead of a story-like tale told fantasy world, we get some lines which I am surprised the band didn't catch flak for. "Concrete Jungle" although it features that dreaded double-standard "N" word, doesn't really come off as racist but simply more like street talk when the next line features "honkey"(My favorite Anglo-Saxon Caucasian slur). But then this is Anvil of all bands and we should know not to take it too seriously seeing how they didn‘t take this album serious enough.
The songs...man....if you stripped away the proto-thrash edge "Metal On Metal" and "Forged In Fire" had, you would hear a sound more suitable to fit between "Hard 'n Heavy" and "Metal On Metal". That's another thing about "Strength of Steel" is that it didn't follow the same winning formula as either "Metal On Metal" or "Forged In Fire". "Strength of Steel" is almost a completely throwback to a more simplistic form of NWOBHM/Hard Rock sound. There some good tracks on here but they only go so far to keep me from thinking if I am listening to Motley Crue trying to cover Metallica's "Kill'em All". The instrumental "Flight of The Bumble Beast" is an amazing piece that shows Anvil really pushing their sound as far as playing technique with the intro riff sounding like an old 80's horror movie. Speaking of which the killer "Straight Between The Eyes" is a song that was featured on the 80's classic "Sleepaway Camp part II: Unhappy Campers" which has a more up-beat punky edge to it. "I Dreamt It Was The End Of The World" has some really great subconcious lyrics but unfortunate it sounds lazy really. "Paper General" starts off the exact same as "Free As The Wind", but it's slightly faster. Satanwolf perfectly describes the abomination that is "Mad Dog" in it's it's-so-cheesy-it's-horrible-in-a-terrible-way. DON"T watch the music video. What "The Pack is Back" and Stay Hard" is to Raven, "Mad Dog" is to Anvil as a lame fucking attempt at trying to gain commercial success. Not that they didn't try with their other albums, but they did it was grace while this one sounds like fucking Georgia Satellites trying to cover Motley Crue! Other songs such as the title track "Wild Eyes", "Kiss of Death", and "9-2-5" are ok, but I'm left wondering where the riffs are going to come in at.
If Anvil weren't so whiny about how they got left behind, I would be a little bit more considerate and thoughtful, even though they have put out some great albums that are great to listen to, but with "Strength of Steel" it's just an album that shows you exactly WHY they got left behind and their attempts at trying to play catch-up would ultimately backfire in their face and not to mention the rest of their bad luck. I wouldn't pay so much attention to this release as far as the rest of their albums. For Anvil's 1987 album, this is their weakest link of metal which almost snaps in half from their goofing about.