In case youíre not familiar with the Canadian band in question. Anvil was one of the most influential heavy metal acts of all time, creating a sound that was copied by countless hard rock bands through the 80s and 90s. But donít take my word for it; the documentary boasts interviews with everyone from Lars from Metallica to Scott Ian from Anthrax to Lemmy from Motorhead, all of whom corroborate the bandís historical importance. And while Anvil may be recognized by their peers, they unfortunately havenít been by anybody else for quite some time.
While the band may have slipped from public consciousness since the mid 80s, they have continued to rock well in to their 50s, even if that means playing to ďcrowdsĒ of 5-10 people. Like aging rock superheroes, they take day jobs as caterers and construction workers by day and melt the faces of their die hard fans at night. (You can even watch lead singer Steve ďLipsĒ Kudlow try his hand at telemarketing in order to fund their last album.) Lips and drummer Robb Reiner do it all for the love of music they share. Itís quite sad to see such enthusiasm and love get constantly disrespected and rejected, making ANVIL quite hard to watch at point, but thereís also a lot of joy to behold.
At the very least, the film is a good introduction for the uninitiated in to the hardships of aspiring musicians, painfully detailing the hassles of touring, recording and the insanity of the music industry, not to mention getting paid nothing for something you put your heart and soul in to. It may be frustrating for the band and the viewer, but Anvilís passion and love for the craft is instilled in every second of this movie. Director Sacha Gervasi allows everybody to act honestly and open up without cutting any corners. Lips may be a case study in faith and positivity, but that doesnít mean the movie doesnít have its fair share of arguing and fighting, and yes, even some crying. Itís vaguely reminiscent of Metallicaís SOME KIND OF MONSTER, just without all the whiny self-pity and douchebags. Iím sure there was some helpful editing involved, but the documentaryís narrative arc is almost too perfect, filled with the kind of dramatic highs and lows you canít fake.
I played drums in a rock band and of course we had similar aspirations of success, but also similar promises that, like Anvil, we would continue to play not matter how ďbigĒ we got, as long as we loved the music. (Of course I eventually sold out for college and a job in the real world, a decision I regret daily.) So while this movie obviously connected with me on a very personal level, I truly feel like Anvilís story and passion is universally applicable, even if youíre not a fan of their music. If not, thereís a good chance youíre dead inside.
Commentary with director Sacha Gervasi and Anvil members Lips and Robb Reiner: Lips and Reiner are such great people/characters to hear and Gervasi is such a big fan of the pair, that it makes for a lively and entertaining commentary. The trio are so genuine in their excitement about the film and itís subject matter that itís easy to get sucked in to all the fun stories and bits of trivia. A wonderful compliment to the film.
Deleted Scenes (12:02): Considering how many hundreds of hours of unseen footage was shot, I'm surprised this is all that made it on the disc. Still, these three clips show different sides of the band. They include a longer look at Lip's catering job and what his coworkers think about working with a rock star, a very open interview with the bandís former guitarist and bassist who understandably couldn't handle the years of inactivity, and Lip's visit to his older brother, who's just been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease, the same brother who taught him how to play guitar.
Lars Ulrich Interview (30:05): The full uncut discussion with the Metallica drummer about Anvil. Itís hilarious to hear him talk about not selling out. Hate that guy.
"School Love" in Japan with Sacha (4:17): Director Sacha Gervasi joins Anvil on stage to play drums for one song during their big concert in Tokyo. A nice testament to the trioís camaraderie.
Extra Tidbit: Director Sacha Gervasi was a former roadie for Anvil during the early 80s. Robb Reiner personally taught him how to play the drums.