Black Anvil - Hail Death (Relapse)

The maturation process continues...
Release Date: 
26 May 2014 - 11:30pm

Black Anvil, it seems to me, take a lot of shit from the ‘metaller than thou’ brigade who seem to run the internet these days; I’m middle aged and above all the bickering (or so I like to think), and I prefer to think of this band as being a bunch of honest, devout metallers whose apparent lack of focus and inability to stick to one kind of music from one album to the next as being, well, just one of the perils of growing up in public as opposed to being the result of some sort of sinister policy of metallic bandwagon jumping.

Hence I’m really enjoying Hail Death, the band’s first album in four years and certainly their most mature, well rounded offering to date. From the more-Metallica-than-Metallica acoustic opening to the perhaps ill-advised Kiss cover that ends the album, the band plow their own furrow resolutely and with not a care for hipster opinion, and I kinda like that attitude…

Musically the band are in their element on Hail Death. It’s a long album (maybe too long) full of long songs, many of which would undoubtedly have taken some pruning well (there’s nothing here apart from the Kiss cover that’s under five minutes long) – there’s nothing wrong with the occasional burst of foul-smelling black wind to break things up, even if you are trying to show a more ‘progressive’ side – but the piling up of riff upon riff like skulls in a Kampuchean killing field certainly has an effect, battering you into submission and making your ears more malleable for when the good times hit, which they do here with gratifying regularity. The classic metal guitar break on G.N.O.N. , which finds itself being let loose after a particularly gruelling passage of black metal riffing, is rendered all the more effective by the sheer weight of what went before – and closes out the song brilliantly.

Did I mention classic metal? There’s plenty of it about – The opening riff of Until the End sounds like a refugee from the sessions of Accept’s Restless and Wild, whilst the entire opening section of the excellent Seven Stars Unseen will have fans of Manowar drawn in by its similarity to that band’s magnum opus Defender – where’s Orson Welles when you need him?

At the end of the day, the inevitability of haters hating means that Black Anvil won’t get the credit they deserve for Hail Death; However in the real world, the world outside the claustrophobic grasp of hipster sentiment, you’d have to say that this is by some way the best thing Black Anvil have done, and it’s well worth a listen. Oh, and MaF’s resident expert on all things hairsprayed and eighties, LK Strykes, pronounces the Kiss cover (it’s Under the Rose, from the Music from the Elder album) to be ‘kinda RAD’. So that’s a bonus too.