The easy description of Anvil: The Story of Anvil is to call it the real-life Spinal Tap. The story of the heaviest heavy metal band you’ve never heard of bears a strong resemblance to the legendary fictional band, but it is so much more than that. It is a story of passion, of trying to beat the odds, of friendship, of hope against hope. It’s also quite funny and the music will peel the paint off theatre walls.
Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner met when they were just fourteen years old and have been making music together ever since. Now middle aged and road weary they have day jobs but haven’t given up on their rock and roll dreams. The Toronto based band released one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982’s Metal on Metal, which influenced a generation musicians including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, but unlike the bands they inspired Anvil’s career never took flight.
Directed by former roadie (and now Hollywood screenwriter and director) Sacha Gervasi, it’s a film that digs deeper than VH1’s Behind the Music series to fully expose the life of a working band, but the thing that really separates Anvil from the rest of the music bio pack is the more universal story of people pursuing their personal passion in the face of ostensibly overwhelming odds. The persistence and indomitable spirit of Kudlow and Reiner turn them into unlikely heroes whether you’re a metal fan or not.
Let’s face it, heavy metal is ripe for parody but Gervasi takes pains not to patronize or poke fun at the band. He treats them respectfully and in doing so has made the best rock ‘n roll documentary since Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.