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A documentary team follows “Anvil”, one of the founding fathers of modern heavy metal, around, witnessing their (possibly perennial) efforts to at last make the breakthrough, cut the record deal, get the big arenas boiling over. It would almost be a sad story, if the main characters, band founders Steve Lips Kudlow and Rob Reiner, were not so heartbreakingly open and honest and simple and … hard to say … so naively willing to make themselves vulnerable to the humiliation of being an ageaing rock star. Or not even a star. This band has been around forever, has played the big festivals with Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi – but at some point (as the drummer of Metallica observed) everybody else in this rock festival family took off and became huge, and the band to which everybody used to look up as powerful and innovative forerunners of the metal scene – they were left behind.

So they are now working in school catering or other regular jobs, keeping up the band as their lifeline to which they have to hold on, and trying to balance their own life and the life of their families between shattered dreams and the possible breakthrough, which could just be around the corner. And even during the course of the film there are indicators: they manage (with the help of a warm-hearted sister’s money) to complete another record with a well-reputed producer – but then they fail to sell to a distributer. They get a concert tour through Europe – but nobody pays them. And at the end, they play a gig at a Japanese rock festival, only to realise on the spot that they have been scheduled for the early morning. When the worst fears of a rock band seem to come upon them, they are faced with a roaring crowd have has not forgotten the great band that Anvil used to be.

I am not really into that kind of music anymore (apart from the occassional Iron Maiden fix), but I very much appreciate the great energy coming from the music, especially at festivals. And when checking the line-ups of the big festivals (e.g. see Wacken here), you can only guess how many of these bands of former glory are still around. This line-up reads like the mixed tape of my 16th birthday… and they all still play? We have seen the Metallica film (of course a band for the younger friends), I have thoroughly enjoyed Iron Maiden’s “Flight 666”, so why not follow up with “Saxon – a real story”, “Raven – Wiped Put Still”, or “The Moetley Crue Diaries” … so many stories to tell…

Nice piece by the film’s author:

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