ANVIL – Metal On Metal In New Jersey

April 11, 2023, a year ago

By Rich Catino

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On April 7, Anvil, with special guest heavy metal comedian Don Jamieson, and Midnite Hellion, arrived at Crossroads in Garwood New Jersey during their spring 2023 US tour. Being a Union County native, I have been to Crossroads since the late ‘90s when they opened. Between the towns Cranford and Westfield, the restaurant, bar, music venue is a convenient local place to go, an intimate setting for seeing shows and only holds a couple hundred people. 

The stage is just feet off the ground, so you are very up close to the artist. As a result, NJ based Midnite Hellion were setup on the floor in front of the stage. In support of their second album Kingdom Immortal, the three piece are keeping the ‘80s heavy metal alive, a mix of the NWOTHM, speed metal, and bands like Helstar and Omen. The song "H.M.O" is fun celebrating all things that heavy metal culture is about, while video track "Phantomland" and "Rapscallion" explore more creative storytelling. Jamieson did about thirty minutes before Anvil. Don's comedy focuses mostly on jokes about hard rock and heavy metal musicians for such a crowd (and other related events), often throwing in material relevant to the news and pop culture. He's witty, on his toes, and plays off the crowd's reaction. 

Anvil, well like the album title, is Anvil since the debut in 1981. If you have seen (who hasn't?) the documentary about the band, you know since their beginning guitarist/singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner are the heart and soul of Anvil, through good times and bad. And this comes through on every album, every live performance. They do it because they love it, doesn't matter how big the venue is, or how large or small the crowd is. Lips even comes off the stage and plays in the crowd for opening instrumental "March Of The Crabs" and the fans ate it up, cell phones taping like crazy. 

With 19 albums to date, including the latest titled Impact Is Imminent from 2022, the setlist was mostly pulled from the first few albums with a couple from the recent 15 years. "School Love" from Hard ‘N’ Heavy, "666", and "Mothra" about the classic Japanese monster see Lips playing the solo with a dildo. 

"Free As The Wind" and "Winged Assassins" were taken from Forged In Fire and of course they played the Metal On Metal title track. There was even some moshing about. Nothing was included from the middle period of albums, title track to This Is Thirteen, "On Fire" and "Swing Thing" lets Reiner get in his crazy chops from one of my favorite albums Juggernaut Of Justice. 

"Legal At Last" comes and is about the legalization of marijuana. Slower "Bitch In The Box" sets in the groove with that catchy riff and bottom end, as does classic swing to "Badass Rock N Roll", "Take A Lesson" celebrates the spirit of Anvil. This is what Anvil are great at doing each album - riffs, grooves, and variety. Legends still at it and going strong.

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