When I interviewed Anvil a few months back, drummer Robb Reiner informed me that the interviews done for the publication of the book were a healing process and I could tell by the look he gave me in his eyes. As I read the book, I was completely absorbed, even more so than the film in many aspects. Whereas the film made me want to support and writer about Anvil, the book made me want to discover their music. Of the 320-pages, I would say that approximately 300 of them cover material not in the film, the bonus scenes or the commentary. It was almost as if the book provided a sequel to their story. Ultimately, the book doesn't just compliment the film, but provides an encyclopedic narration of Anvil which is more than informative but provides the same heartrending wallop. We learn much about their original guitarist and bass player, Ian Dickson and Dave Squirrely Allison. The entire book is an oral history given from the perspective or Robb and Lips, but if you think they go easy on themselves, you would be mistaken. Looking back, they see clearly where the train went off course, where opportunities were blown and where their egos destroyed certain relationships. There is the distressing story of how the band chose Aerosmith manager David Krebs to manage them over Jonny Zazula (who represented Metallica, Anthrax, etc.). It was a critical turning point for the band and how it unfolds is more than just heartbreaking, but a life lesson everyone can learn from. Then there was a showcase performance in New York where the band made the horrendous decision to let their bass player, Squirrely, take over lead vocals and debut more appealing less heavy music. There are reflections of their Metal Blade records (Strength of Steel) and every other thing imaginable they endured during their lean years. Hindsight in 20/20, alas the band makes the best of every situation and you continue to be in awe of their willingness to keep Anvil together and continue to create music even though every obstacle imaginable seemed to tell them otherwise.
While the raunchy stories make for fun reading, it's the personal relationships discussed in the book that make it consequential. Both Lips and Robb dig deep into their families past and leave no stone unturned. Something that no interviewer has really captured was the band's reunion with Sacha Gervasi. We've all been given an edited cliff notes version of their relationship, but the book goes so much deeper. We learn the dire straits one of the Anvil members was in (I will not spoil it) and how the film, renewed interest in the band and well…faith and friendship managed to pull the band out of obscurity and into everyone's heart. Anvil!: The Story of Anvil is more than a great film, but a great book as well. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you hold no interest in metal or even music, you should still seek it out because I can't see how anyone could not be moved by the triumph over tragedy that is the story of Anvil.
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network and his daily writings can be read at The Screen Door and can be contacted at thescreendoor AT gmail DOT com.