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Anvil - Plenty of Power - 87%

Spiner202, January 11th, 2010

This is probably not the best Anvil disc to start with, as none of the tracks standout like those from “Metal on Metal” and “Forged in Fire”, but this album is another fantastic album by an underappreciated band. One thing I really enjoy about this album is the artwork. There is nothing more direct than calling your album “Plenty of Power” and having a giant bulldozer on the front. It perfectly describes this album; powerful, crushing, and heavy.

Onto the music now, every track here follows a fairly basic song structure and utilizes great but predictable speed metal riffs. Lips’ vocals are just as powerful as the early days and he still uses a mid to low range bark. It isn’t far-fetched to hear traces of Lemmy’s vocals at times. With that said, they aren’t great, but they fit both the music and the lyrics. Songs like “Real Metal” and “Disgruntled” show a lot of anger coming from Lips. A lot of people seem to think that Anvil’s lyrics are fairly weak but I’ve always liked them. They show honesty, which you don’t see from a lot of bands. Sure they don’t talk a lot about nuclear warfare or brutally killing people, but when you really look at the lyrics, they are really quite profound. Plenty of Power features some common lyrical themes for Anvil; heavy metal, wrestling, and everyday life. “Computer Drone” and “Groove Science” stand out as two of the most lyrically interesting songs. The former is about the obsession with staying on the computer all day (a song that was ahead of its time), and the latter being (quite literally) about how creating music is like science.

The guitars are just one of many parts that really shine on this album. One thing that has always intrigued me with Anvil was the distinctive soloing style. Once again, this album is no exception. Lips and second guitarist Ivan Hurd may not be the fastest or most technically proficient guitarists, but their solos are extremely well-structured and thought out. The opening solo to “Beat the Law” stands out to me as quite interesting. In addition to having great solos, Anvil certainly knows how to create a catchy riff. The chorus of the aforementioned “Beat the Law” features a simple riff, but when combined with Lips’ vocal patterns; it really takes the songs to the next level. Bassist G5 (Glenn Gyorffy) is no slacker either. You can constantly hear the low rumble of his bass and often times he comes out of the shadows to play a few perfectly placed notes. Much like Lips and Hurd, G5 does not play to impress anyone, just to write great songs. Both the bass and guitar tones are fairly standard, but it works.

Now we come to drummer Robb Reiner. If you aren’t familiar with the earlier Anvil material you may have missed out on some of the most interesting and technical drum fills in existence. In 1982, I seriously doubt there was a better drummer than Robb Reiner. Reiner continues his dominance on this album with a strong double bass attack and insane fills. The simplicity of the rest of the instruments allows Reiner to stick out. Even though his drum fills are often over the top, it never feels overwhelming and really adds a lot to the music. The tone Reiner gets out of his drumkit is quite odd. I can’t say I’ve ever heard a snare or bass drum sound like it does on these mid 90’s-early 00’s Anvil releases. This is actually a good thing, as it keeps the music fresh compared to other bands.

If there seems to be one common theme throughout this review, it’s that Anvil doesn’t sacrifice song writing for technicality. The chorus of nearly every song on this album (and on most Anvil albums) should stick in your head after a few listens. Some of the standout tracks include the title track, “The Creep” (which has a hilarious chorus), “Disgruntled”, and “Real Metal”. None of these songs are blast-beat inducing fast, nor do they ever slow down; they are just excellent heavy metal.

After all of this praise, why am I only giving this album an 87%? For two reasons; firstly, the chorus of “Siren of the Sea” is more annoying than memorable, and secondly, while the songs are all great and stick in your head, there aren’t songs that really take it to the next level. In other words, you won’t be hearing any classics like “Metal on Metal”, “666”, or “Free as the Wind”.

Anvil’s formula works and while some albums are better than others, you won’t be disappointed with this one. Plenty of Power is another highlight of Anvil’s career and the fact that they can continue to pump out albums of this quality says something about the skills of these musicians.