For the last few years, Black Anvil have sort of served as NYC metal’s house band: I’ve seen them share stages with international legends including Urfaust, Watain, Aura Noir, and Marduk, which is basically one step removed from playing Valhalla with Quorthon, Euronymous, Jon Nödtveidt, and Jeff Hanneman. But Black Anvil’s roots are largely in hardcore — the band’s founding members Paul Delaney, Raeph Glicken, and Gary Bennett came up as part of the LI/NYHC group Kill Your Idols. In that respect, Black Anvil have a lot in common with many other prominent metal acts and institutions in this city: Tombs frontman Mike Hill, for instance, got his start with the Boston hardcore band Anodyne; the proprietors of the city’s best metal venue, St. Vitus, made their names in late-’80s Long Island emocore bands like Mind Over Matter and Milhouse. Furthermore, New York City’s metal scene has always cross-pollinated with its hardcore scene, with seminal musicians like Scott Ian, Peter Steele, and Danny Lilker constantly drifting between the two worlds, and local bands like S.O.D. and Cro-Mags eventually coming to define the subgenre called “crossover” — i.e., music informed equally by hardcore and metal. (Further cementing their place in that lineage, two members of Black Anvil occasionally play in a live version of Cro-Mags today.)
Black Anvil frequently seem torn by their complicated pedigree: Where most black metal is almost formlessly blurry, Black Anvil’s songs have the crisp, sharp edges and muscular thrust of hardcore. For their forthcoming third (and absolute best) album, Hail Death, the core trio added a second guitarist, Jeremy Sosville, a “Randy Rhoads shredder” (per Delaney), yet they enlisted DC post-hardcore giant J. Robbins to produce. It’s an unusual formula, but with it, Black Anvil have created something that feels utterly unique and vital. Hail Death has throwback elements, but it doesn’t feel self-consciously “old school.” Where most contemporary bands who crib from late-’80s proto-metal (think: Noisem, Vampire) seem almost reverently referential, Black Anvil are absolutely owning these sounds. It’s a hell of an achievement — you can hear everything from Dio to Metallica to Celtic Frost to Bathory in here, but you’re never left thinking, “This is the Dio part, this is the Metallica part …” Hail Death is a pure metal album that relishes in the genre’s conventions without feeling conventional: It’s simply anthemic, aggressive, bombastic, thrilling, and fucking heavy. I actually think both Robbins and Sosville are owed a great deal of credit here, as the contributions made by both men are evident throughout, but it would be unfair and inaccurate to diminish the enormous strides made by Delaney, Glicken, and Bennett, who have worked for years to develop the voice and sound captured here. Today, we’re premiering one of Hail Death’s numerous highlights, “Until The End,” and if you love heavy metal, I heartily encourage you to listen to this song, because I think you will love it, too.
Hail Death is out 5/27 via Relapse.