Anvil. Heavy metal band, formed in 1978 in Toronto and consisting of guitarist-vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudlow, drummer Robb Reiner and bassist Sal Italiano. Other members were guitarists Dave Allison (1978-89), Sebastian Marino (1989-95) and Ivan Hurd (1995-2007), and bassists Ian Dickson (1978-93) Mike Duncan (1993-96) and Glenn Five (born Gyorffy, 1996-2012). The band performed as a quartet from 1978 until 2007 when guitarist Hurd left and was not replaced.
Formation and early albums
Ludlow and Reiner had performed together since 1973 in several Toronto-based groups. They joined guitarist Dave Allison and bassist Ian Dickson in 1978 and became known as Lips. Under that name, they independently released the album Hard ‘n’ Heavy in early 1981. Canadian independent record label Attic Records signed the band and re-released the album under the moniker Anvil. The release of Metal on Metal (1982) and Forged in Fire (1983), both produced by Chris Tsangarides, cemented the band’s position in the growing speed metal and thrash genres.
Touring success and influence
After performing in supporting roles for bands such as Iron Maiden and Girlschool during their Canadian tours, Anvil embarked on a world tour in 1982 that included a performance at the Monsters of Rock festival in the UK. The following year, the band continued to find worldwide success as it toured in Europe and Japan, including the UK Reading Festival headlined by Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy, and opening on tour for Motorhead. Anvil returned to Japan in 1984 year for the Super Rock Festival where it shared the stage with Bon Jovi, the Michael Schenker Group, the Scorpions, and Whitesnake.
While the group was known originally for its sex-driven, shock-rock lyrics and unorthodox stage dress, Metal on Metal became recognized as a major musical influence on the “big four” thrash bands that would emerge in the coming years: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Reiner, a jazz-trained drummer, was among the earliest metal drummers to heavily incorporate the double-bass drumming technique.
Period of change and carrying on
Sensing the need of a more international presence, in 1983 Anvil enlisted the aid of former Aerosmith manager David Krebs and terminated its contract with Attic Records to pursue wider forms of distribution. However, Krebs had trouble marketing the band to other labels and ultimately dropped it. Anvil eventually signed with Metal Blade Records in 1987 and released Strength of Steel. Since Anvil’s last album, heavy metal had splintered into many subgenres and the band struggled to find its place. Pound for Pound (1988) and the live outing Past and Present (1989) were the final recordings to feature original guitarist Dave Allison.
With its peak in popularity behind it, Anvil produced a string of albums in the 1990s and early 2000s. Worth the Weight (1992) featured American guitarist Sebastian Marino, the only non-Canadian to perform in Anvil. Bassist Mike Duncan replaced Ian Dickson in 1993, while Ivan Hurd replaced Marino in 1995. Both Duncan and Hurd performed on Plugged in Permanent (1996), though Glenn Gyorffy replaced Duncan a short time later. Gyorffy and Hurd provided some stability to Anvil’s lineup as the band recorded Absolutely No Alternative (1997), Speed of Sound (1999), Plenty of Power (2001), Still Going Strong (2002) and Back to Basics (2004).
Documentary and resurgence
Though the band had always maintained a dedicated following with its rigorous commitment to touring, Anvil saw renewed fame in 2008 with the release of a highly-regarded documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The film focused on the lives of the band members as they organized their biggest European tour since the 1980s and on their attempts to self-finance, record, and market their next album to record labels.
British screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, a roadie for Anvil in the 1980s, directed the documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. The film received critical acclaim and won awards from several international film associations including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Vancouver Film Critics Circle.
As chronicled in the documentary, former Anvil producer Chris Tsangarides reunited with the band for the recording of its album, This is Thirteen, which the band self-released in 2007. The recording received positive reviews and was regarded as one of Anvil’s better albums since the group’s high point in the 1980s. Coupled with exposure from the documentary, This is Thirteen revived success for the band and led to a tour and Anvil’s first network television appearance on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”
Signed with The End Records, in 2012 Anvil released Juggernaut of Justice which was nominated for a Juno Award in the inaugural year for the category “Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year.” The album was the last to feature longtime bassist Glenn Five, who was replaced by Sal Italiano. In early 2013 Anvil announced the scheduled release of a new recording, Hope in Hell and another international tour.