For my eleventh birthday - that was in 1982 - a friend gave me an AC/DC cassette. I was just starting to get into popular music and the fever for hard rock and heavy metal caught on quickly. Over the next three years I bought dozens of cassettes with my paper route earnings and I stayed up late watching music video shows, hoping to see a favourite band or hear a new one. There are some songs from this period in my life that stand out as metal classics: Ozzy's "Crazy Train", Accept's "Balls to the Wall", Priest's "Metallion / Electric Eye", Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane", Maiden's "Number of the Beast", Dio's "Last in Line", and Anvil's "Forged in Fire".
Though I owned this album on cassette in the eighties, I eventually replaced much of my cassettes with CDs, and "Forged in Fire" only finally made it back to my hands earlier this year. Having seen clips of the Anvil documentary certainly helped inspire that purchase.
Anvil have been said to be the link between NWoBHM and thrash metal. Much of the music on this album exhibits a strong influence from classic Judas Priest. Even Lips' vocals at times pay homage to Rob Halford with those long wavering notes, high screams, and gritty rough edge. The music also follows that Priest-inspired heavy metal sound but revved up to a faster pace more often than Priest may have attempted on any one album. My impression is that the band liked what Priest were doing and decided to try to be a little heavier and a little faster. However, unlike the thrash bands, Anvil didn't put any hardcore punk elements in their music - more Judas Priest; no Motörhead. The result is exactly traditional heavy metal with emphasis on the "heavy" and a frequent push towards the faster aspect with lots of double bass drumming. No ballads.
The lyrics cover the usual themes: metal music, sex, war, fantasy and science fiction. I honestly haven't paid enough attention to the lyrics to grade any cheese factor. "You make me so right when you're around / Maybe I've gone astray but you're the best I've found." Nothing new or ground breaking. Here's a bit from "Winged Assassins": "Machines made for killing at Mach speed and more / Sleek in design and loaded for war / Sidewinding missiles, heat-seeks and sparrows / Strafing squadrons cause havoc and terror". Sounds pretty typical for metal. Nevertheless, the music is where it's at and a Anvil do a superb job of carrying the metal torch, even if their fast and heavy sound soon became second to the trash movement and all that came with it.
Though the previous album "Metal on Metal" is the one that is best remembered, I prefer "Forged in Fire". It's a great album representing the sound of real die hard traditional heavy metal.