In case you’re unfamiliar, Anvil is a Toronto heavy metal band that emerged in the early 80s and is credited for inspiring bands like Metallica and Slayer. Their first three albums are considered metal classics. But due to a cocktail of poor management decisions and label jumping the band drifted into obscurity despite a string of solid albums full of their distinct blend of kinky metal and bluesy hard rock.
Everything changed in 2008 when the documentary film “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” www.anvilthestoryofanvil.com/ was released. Directed by former Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi, the film chronicles the band on an ill-fated European tour with sparsely-attended shows, followed by their struggles to produce their thirteenth album and the toll it took on their family and friends. After premiering at Sundance the film went on to garner near-universal acclaim (it currently holds a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). The film gave way to a significant rise in the band’s popularity and big name gigs started popping up, including an opening slot for AC/DC.
The last time I spoke with frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow was in the summer of 2006 behind the fondly-remembered Big Bop in Toronto. That night the band the band would play to a handful of people, a scene that was echoed throughout their documentary. With their latest aptly-titled album “Hope In Hell” having just dropped in May, the band is now two records deep since the release of the film. I had a chance to talk with Lips about the film’s overall impact on the band, and why he thinks there’s no point in Anvil creating more commercial music.
During my trip to the both great and gross Amnesia Rockfest I had a chance to sit down with Roger Miret, frontman for the New York hardcore punk institution Agnostic Front. Going strong for over 30 years the band not only set a standard for their genre, they also were on the forefront of the crossover movement with metal titans like Slayer and Anthrax.
The journey was a long one. Towards the end of the 80s Roger spent time in prison on drug-related charges, and the band imploded for a few years shortly after. So when he sits down and cartoon theme music seems to emanate from thin air, it’s a bit out of place. Turns out it’s one of his children’s apps that’s been inadvertently triggered on his phone. Now firmly grounded in the present we proceed to talk about his modern life as a family man, and what makes real hardcore music.
Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are a down-tuned psychedelic sludgy metal band who, like their friends in Mastodon, have managed to attract an audience outside of the usual heavy sphere. The band evokes the sensibilities of The Melvins and Sonic Youth, processing their eclectic rock tendencies through the needle-head of extreme metal. Describing their show as loud would be an understatement (they have two drummers by the way).
They’ve just released their sixth album Ultraviolet, and I had a chance to sit down with guitarists / vocalists Philip Cope and Laura Pleasants to talk about the progression of their sound, possible divisions in their audience, and their faithfulness to the heavy music scene.
George Fisher is a monster. Well ok he’s not really. Except that he is. It just depends on what you’re talking about. As the vocalist for the world’s biggest death metal band Cannibal Corpse, he has a bit of a reputation. Physically speaking, everyone in the band is huge. They’re all tall as hell with varying degrees of muscular prowess. Combine that with the band’s horror-themed lyrics and ultra-gory album and merch art, and you have a recipe for intimidation.
The truth is far less exciting. The members of Cannibal Corpse are some of the most normal musicians you’ll ever meet. Originating from Buffalo, NY the band transplanted themselves to Florida and became stalwarts of the death metal scene along with bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel. The band endured censorship around the world, but their popularity has only continued to grow. They’ve sold over a million albums worldwide and Brendon Small copied their onstage stances for the live appearance of his faux-metal cartoon Dethklok.
But back to the whole monster thing. The band’s first four albums with original vocalist Chris Barnes are still hailed as genre defining, but since he joined in 1995 the band has become far more associated with George, not only vocally but in image as well. His pitch-perfect guttural vocals cut through his bandmates’ groove-laden heaviness like a machete through a zombie’s skull. Then there’s the headbanging. There’s no other way to put it but bluntly: George has a massive neck. Probably the biggest in all music (I’d bet), and it makes for incredible displays onstage. Every night he proclaims to the crowd: “try to keep up with me, you will fail”.
So yeah, when it comes to death metal vocals and headbanging supremacy, George Fisher is a bit of a monster. I had a chance to sit down with George before the band’s recent performance in Toronto to speak about his neck muscles, his time in the band, and the stigma against extreme vocalists.