Pounding Metal: Anvil – Hope in Hell Tour

Crocks, Monday, April 30, 2015

It was easy for Anvil, one of Canada’s longest-running heavy metal bands, to take over the stage at Crocks’, even on a Monday.  There was a generous turn-out of several generations of metalheads, all eager for the trio’s ripping classics.  Anvil is a potent combination of lead guitarist and singer “Lips” Kudlow’s hard blues riffs that escalate into early-80s guitar heroics laid over drummer Rob Reiner’s gratuitous double-kicked beats.  As evil-sounding (or silly) as some of the lyrics might be (“MOTH-RAAA!”) they’re perfect for crowd participation, of which the band makes the most.  The songs themselves are also strong, as they follow a hard rock or Sabbath-style doom template before breaking into radical shredding territory.

Kudlow starts the set by stalking through the crowd, his fingers flying up the fretboard.  He wrangles each note, hard, to let the crowd know what’s begun. By the time Kudlow reaches the stage, Reiner has locked into a deadly rhythm with bassist Chris Robinson, which adds necessary fire.

After the inevitable jokes about their age, Anvil starts acting like a band half their age.  They take every chance for guitar and bass freak-outs, most memorably having Kudlow seduce his guitar with a vibrator.  Even Reiner had a chance to show off with a demolishing drum solo.  Anvil’s relevance may have waned, but their passion for metal is as strong as ever; Monday proved that there’s a crowd that will happily keep supporting them.