This Is Thirteen
VH1 Records, 2007
REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/22/2010
Maybe the entire metal universe is messed up because of Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Until that movie was released, Anvil was an obscure footnote to ‘80s metal that went pretty much unnoticed. To summarize the movie, Anvil was on top of the world in the ‘80s, playing alongside the Scorpions and others, but commercial and mass success escaped their grasp. The band members never achieved the success they so desired when guitarist/vocalist Lips and drummer Robb Reiner got together when they were kids.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil has achieved a lot of critical and commercial success, and is a compelling film. The movie’s theme highlights what they consider to be the grave injustice that the group never quite “made it” as a major band. VH1 got behind Anvil, and VH1 Classic Records has released This Is Thirteen.
Before I continue, I should note that I liked the movie. I thought it was a smart film that didn’t attempt to sugarcoat the band’s struggles. However, if you separate the band in the movie and the band that is on this disc, you don’t end up with much worth paying attention to. Maybe they should have slipped away as a footnote and not have released any other music. The band on this album –vocalist/guitarist Lips, drummer Robb Reiner, and bassist Glenn Five – did not compose compelling music for this release. It is one of the blandest and by-the-numbers metal releases that I have heard in quite a while.
The lyrics are firmly grounded in clichés. How many aptly-named metal songs do we need about bombs (“Bombs Away”), bridges that are burning (“Burning Bridges”), flying (“Flying Blind”), and fighting (“Ready To Fight”)? How many more times do we need to hear about games being over (“Game Over”) and axes (“Axe To Grind”) in heavy metal? These themes have all been addressed countless times by other bands with more compelling lyrics than repeating the song title four times and calling it a chorus.
The glimpses of new ideas here are just are not attention-grabbing in the least. Songs about numbers (“This Is Thirteen” & “Room #9”) and big business corruption (“Feed The Greed” and, what else, “Big Business”) are not executed well.
A song about remorse and regret (“Should’ A Would’ A Could’ A”) relies on a weak chorus and an even weaker verse lyrically, with Lips singing “In the lottery of life you need a ticket to win / Got to know where you come from” in the first verse and “Life is like a card game / A good hand makes you win / Got to know your enemies / Before the war begins” in the second verse.
Musically, Reiner plays some nice drum fills, most notably in “Ready To Fight,” which distracted me from the methodical and uninspired guitar riffs from Lips. But Reiner cannot save a doomed song like “Flying Blind,” no matter what tricks he does behind his drum kit. “Room #9” also suffers from a weak guitar riff that sounds all too familiar the first time you hear it.
I was immensely disappointed with this album. I wanted to like it because I liked the movie, but ultimately, this is a rote and boring metal release.