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Anvil - One And Only review

Band: Anvil
Album: One And Only
Style: Heavy metal
Release date: June 2024

01. One And Only
02. Feed Your Fantasy
03. Fight For Your Rights
04. Heartbroken
05. Gold And Diamonds
06. Dead Man Shoes
07. Truth Is Dying
08. Rocking The World
09. Run Away
10. World Of Fools
11. Condemned Liberty
12. Blind Rage

There can only be one 'one and only', and my money is on Chesney Hawkes.

It's been over 15 years since Anvil came barnstorming back into the spotlight with their biographical film, ushering in the kind of late-career resurgence many bands envy. Since then, Anvil has had to once more let the music do the talking, leading to a regression back to the fringes of the metal scene at large that comes after the happy ever after (now that's the kind of alliteration the band would be proud of). It is due to output like One And Only that you can see why the band's fortunes have receded since the documentary.

Whereas the film highlighted the band's strengths, that being a personality and passion that makes you want the band to succeed, albums like this highlight the band's weaknesses: namely, well, the music. While the band can produce some classic to decent tracks, they are often far from consistent enough to sustain interest; One And Only may not provide the band the third wind many would hope for, but it is still one of their better efforts in recent times.

At its best, One And Only lets Lips' guitar take centre stage and showcase why he was often considered when bands were looking to replace guitarists. "Run Away" is a perfect example of this, a track where Lips just throws off blues riffs with ease, while "Heartbroken" is salvaged from the scrapheap solely off the back of his guitar work. "Dead Man's Shoes" and "Fight For Your Rights" give the album a depth in quality that has been missing in recent releases from the band.

Still, Anvil struggle in the songwriting department, with the tracks lacking much beyond the stellar guitar work (Reiner isn't a bad drummer by any means, but he rarely gets to flex his skills), and often revolving around a painfully uninteresting chorus. Said choruses in "Truth Is Dying" and "Rocking The World" are so bland and boring that they just magnify the shortcomings the rest of these songs have. For all the abilities Lips has on guitar, his limitations as a singer only compound the weak choruses rather than compensating for them, as they're delivered in an uncompelling fashion.

At its worst? One And Only makes you wonder how the band haven't honed their craft over the course of 20 albums, or how they have not found anyone willing to take on the task of quality control. "Feed Your Fantasy" sounds like a high school talent show band, not a veteran band with 40-odd years of experience. Guitar work aside, "Heartbroken" exposes the lack of songwriting talent on show, with a vocal melody and lyrics that could be mistaken for a teenager's garage band.

One And Only is one of the stronger releases in Anvil's latter-day discography, though one that is wildly unbalanced for both better and worse. If you were to give in to curiosity for how the band are faring nowadays, I'd suggest picking this release ahead of some of their other albums.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 5
Production: 6

Written on 11.06.2024 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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