Finally! I've been waiting years for this album to be released on CD. Frequently overlooked in the history of metal, Anvil is worth remebering. And although their more recent discs have been available, those of us who remember the days before Metallica and Slayer are fondly nostalgic about the early days when the metal scene was fresh and unpredictable.
"Metal on Metal" is an outstanding second effort by early-80's pioneers Anvil. This band was ahead of the curve in 1981, and although their music contained elements that would feature prominently in the infant speed/thrash movement that was rapidly fermenting in the wake of the NWOBHM, Anvil never achieved the same mainstream acceptance in the U.S. as many of their contemporaries. Perhaps their status is a result of unfortunate timing: they were introduced to the world in that narrow interval between the NWOBHM and the thrash era and consequently didn't fit precisely with either the second generation metal that preceded them, or the third generation metal that followed.
The most remarkable thing about this album is its incredible versatility. The straightforward metal anthem "Metal on Metal" sets the stage for "Mothra", "March of the Crabs", and "666", which highlight the power-production, speed-picking rhythms that would define the sound of the speed metal movement flagship bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Exodus, and Metal Church a few years later. "Jackhammer" strongly reminds me of old Aerosmith, while "Stop Me" and "Scenery" are solid FM rock, in the vein of Ratt or Nightranger. All the songs have their own character, unlike many of the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses bands so common after 1987, and the inclusion of these latter examples of metal with a more melodic, polished approach only serves to highlight the range of their talent.
The lyrical content of the album consists primarily of typical adolescent ...fantasies, but the drumming is something special. The drum sound is outstanding, benefitting from the excellent production quality and tight performances by all the band's members, which characterize this disc. Robb Reiner is one of the great metal drummers-- along with Wacko, from Raven-- of all time, and this album is worth the price for this reason alone, if its other virtues aren't sufficient to entice anyone interested in 'roots metal' to give this CD a spin.